Corbusier and Mussolini – Big-M Modernism and Fascism (the Real Thing)

This isn’t just Fascism-the-adjective-that-means-something-BAD. This is an example of architectural authoritarianism.

Corbusier was pestering Mussolini with designs for Addis Ababa three months after the conquest. That’s eager collaboration!

The link goes to a fascinating case study at Failed Architecture that discusses how eager European architects were to treat Addis Ababa as a blank slate – even though it had been the capital city of an empire since 1889 and was a real city.

Perhaps one should file this under War Crime Trials: Architects?

A new science building at Penn

I’d actually like to walk up the staircase here (you may have to scroll through the slide show to see what I mean). 

There’s been a lot of thought over the last decade or so about how buildings can encourage serendipitous collaboration. Hanging the little seating areas along side the staircase? Interesting idea. I suppose the architect sold it as “you bump into someone on the staircase, he asks you a question, you offer to sit down and talk about your answer.”

I’m starting to look at science buildings — our next capital campaign had better be for that!

AS Roma’s new stadium

A new home for the Roma soccer team. Lots of pictures. 

I’m unimpressed. Bringing skyboxes to Italy? Not that the current Stadio Olimpico is a great building, easy to get to or get away from! I look forward to reading about cost overruns and work delays.

The interview mentions that there’s going to be a Roma Village – a 365 day shopping extravaganza! But it’s in the middle of nowhere . . . .  Why do people believe in making Destination Stadiums?

San Carlino and Sant Andrea

S Carlino domeBorromini – San Carlo alle quattro fontane – dome. Teaching under this . . . life doesn’t get much better.

Tuesday I got to do one of the great comparison questions live. Borromini’s San Carlo alle quattro fontane and Bernini’s Sant’Andrea al Quirinale are a five minute walk apart. So we visited both of them. I prefer San Carlino, but there’s is lots that is great about Sant’Andrea – especially the broken pediment with St Andrew being carried up to heaven on a cloud. Still, the interlocking coffers in decreasing size as the eye runs up the dome at San Carlino? Magic.

S Andrea DomeThat second opening close to the bottom of the photo – a little cupola designed to light the altar. One of Bernini’s habits – and quite a good one.

A new bridge in Rome

Ponte Musica from P Duca d'Aosta

 

This is the Ponte della Musica, a 21st century pedestrian/bike bridge that connects the Flaminio neighborhood to the Foro Italico/Monte Mario area – and yes, that’s the dome of St Peter’s in the distance.

Ponte Musica toward FlaminioThe center is a paved bike zone, but most people seem to prefer the boardwalk sides. He’s pedaling toward Flaminio, MAXXI, and the Auditorium. This far up the Tiber there are lots of rowers and kayakers – if you look closely, one of those 4s is kayaking rather than rowing.

Ponte Musica rowersI was on my way to meet the class at Foro Italico to talk about Fascist architecture – it’s nice to see some other Modern work in Rome. Otherwise, Rome doesn’t have a lot of very interesting architecture since World War II.

There’s another 21st Century bridge about as far downstream from Tiber Island as Ponte della Musica is upstream – I thought I had blogged about it earlier, but evidently not! So I promise to rustle up some of those pictures and post them.

Back from Milano with a few hundred pictures to sort

We had three fun-filled days in Milano and got back last night around 9 pm. I’m still tired!

Probably the best thing for me was the contemporary art fair – MiArt. But I have been to Milan before, so I was mainly revisiting (though I spent more time in San Lorenzo than before – pictures to follow!).

Milano

We’re headed to Milan this weekend and I’m scrambling to reread everything I can about the cathedral – it’s a VERY big building with a VERY complicated building history!

further: and I remembered to pop my battery into the charger this morning! The battery on my new (last fall) Nikon D3100 lasts approximately forever – and I’ve already had one “damn it, my battery’s dead!” incident this semester because of that.

Spring is springing in Rome – and to celebrate I visited some blooming trees

I had seen a few blossoms in the Centro Storico – but the Centro is so paved over they’re hard to find here.

Blooming tree aqua feliceSo I went to the Parco degli acquedotti, where there were lots of blossoms! Click here to see the other photos from the park, including some of the Acqua Claudia. The arches in the background are the Acqua Felice, a Renaissance aqueduct, which feeds the famous Moses fountain.

I intended to do some drawing, but between going down into the Metro system and coming back up out in the periphery the clouds rolled in. It even sprinkled some – enough to make me cuss, but not enough to make me run away.

 

Flavian Amphitheater. Colosseum. Whatever.

Christine, my colleague, asked me some day this week if there was anything in Rome I was over (though she put it more gracefully). I had to admit that I don’t go to the Colosseum except with students. You come visit me in Rome, I’ll point out that the Metro stop is called “Colosseo” and that admission to the monument costs €12 – but your ticket will get you into the much more interesting Forum and Palatine.

Flavian Amphiteater Long axisI dunno – it’s structurally very interesting, if you’ve never thought about that kind of thing before; Romans had been building things like this for more than a century, since the Theater of Pompey. The gladiator shows and beast shows tell us a lot about the unpleasant side of the Romans (human sacrifice and animal-torture?). The only thing that really interests me are the legally established seating arrangements – if you walked into the Flavian Amphitheater you would see senators (and Vestal Virgins) down front, the Equites (Knights) behind them, and then regular citizens. Slaves and women to the rear!

I could explain that at any number of sites, but I will say that everyone seems to enjoy at least one visit to the Colosseum. I just kind of wish I didn’t have to go, too! I hope that didn’t come across – unlike the poor fella at Rutgers who explained he was not teaching the “Human Aggression” course voluntarily, because it isn’t really his field. Never admit your weakness! You always know more than they do. God knows I know more about the Flavian Amphitheater than I care to tell my charges. On to the Ara Pacis tomorrow! THAT I care about.