Archive for July, 2011
In preparation for Firenze (Florence) tomorrow, Alec W and I did a bunch of research about the history and the city in general. Lets see if it pays off; I’ll have another dozen half-finished sketches tomorrow night, I’m sure.
This is a partial figure ground of Siena, examining the area that my group is researching/ documenting. The poche’d blocks are those that we have investigated and documented already, and include about 1/5 of the total city, passing through Porta Ovile, and continuing out beyond the city-walls.
Part 1 of the Siena documentation is due Thursday, so more content then!
I think its incredible that this beautiful logo grew out of these little concept sketches that Josemar, Erick, and I did with Natascia Fenoglioand.
These are some other ideas, Wonderbreakfasts that could-have-been, if you will. One idea was to make “Big Breakfast,” in the form of a giant prop breakfast cum lounge. Another idea was to create a tasting map by taping spoons to the walls of Il Cubo and directing people to follow certain patterns. The third idea incorporated Saturday morning cartoons (since Saturdays are the only days I really remember eating “breakfast”) where guests would order and consume media, instead of food.
I checked out one of last year’s blogs and the quality of work is incredible.. Which has inspired me to try and post at least ONE thing EVERY NIGHT. I have like 20 unfinished sketches (unfinished to varying degrees) and so I want to take some time every night to finish one and post it.
Tonight’s sketch: The Colosseum.
The baths of Caracalla are now only ruins, but they were once a huge part of Roman public life (literally). They were built by the Emperor Caracalla around 200AD, and included extensive bathing facilities, a library, public space, and an area for athletics.
The massive architecture is said to have been an inspiration for McKim, Mead, and White when they were designing Pennsylvania Station in NYC.
This is a drawing off of an information sign, showing what the baths looked like prior to the Ostrogoths. I wish I could have seen the baths while they were operational, there is something very beautiful about the sheer size of them. Who knows though, maybe I even got to use them in a past life.
I did this write up for the Milano Breakfast, to give the press some idea of what we’re all about.
Who we are
We are a group of 21 Architecture students from The New Jersey Institute of Technology (located in Newark, New Jersey). We are spending seven weeks of the summer studying as a group in Italy. We are travelling from Milano to Rome to Siena, with stops in Florence and Venice along the way. We are trying to observe more than the just the Architecture of the places we visit; we are also trying to understand Italy’s language and culture. This breakfast workshop is the first of several projects we are planning. It represents one week of observation, reflection, and discussion.
For three days, we asked collected information about the city of Milano, and Italian culture in general. The professors assisted with references and suggestions of various kinds. Generally, we (the students) spent our mornings visiting places in Milan individually, to covertly observe the rites, taste the food, and experience the social relations that are typical of an Italian breakfast. We documented everything with photos, videos, interviews, drawings, and literary descriptions. In the afternoon, we participated in an open discussion which brought to light several issues- upon which we developed our final concept.
During our discussions, we discovered that “breakfast” is a cultural institution; in Italy the ritual of breakfast is quite different than in The United States. It was decided that the best way to test this discovery would be to purposely displace guests by changing the ritual they are used to, without telling the guests what to expect instead. The breakfast ritual was changed in three ways:
- First, the instruments of breakfast were reversed. Table became chair, and chair became table. The chairs were set with plates and cutlery, and the ergonomics were set at odds with normative usage. The guests, upon entering the dining space, had to figure out for themselves how they were intended to sit. Additionally, this reversal led to guests being in physical contact with one another (as they sat back to back).
- Secondly, we changed the ritual of service. Normally, food is served in a sort of ad-lib dance, according to certain cultural norms, but without specific choreography. We chose 12 students to serve the guests according to a routine which was executed with military discipline and precision. We distinguished ourselves by wearing white and distanced ourselves from the guests, so as to avoid giving away any part hints about how guests should act/ interact.
- Third, we misrepresented the foods that we served our guests. The meal was broken up into two “plates”- an Italian plate followed by an American plate. The items on each plate were not what they seemed to be (though they were delicious)(see menu for more details). The intention was to change foods that are salty into doppelgangers that are sweet, and vice versa.
We created and served our “Wonderbreakfast” for 12 guests Tuesday () and 12 guests Wednesday (). These guests had the opportunity to experience the particular arrangement of space and to taste the foods and beverages that we designed. Afterward, we engaged them in conversation about their experience.
It is a performance that- by displacing the common use of places and everyday objects, playing on the reversal of expectations derived from the senses such as taste, sight and touch and introducing new rituals, new moods and modes of social relations- has staged an event which suggests a very playful, international and contemporary idea of breakfast.
The food served consisted of two courses and a dessert:
Plate 1: Italian Café Latte was actually Cream cheese with zucchini, eggplant and prosciutto Biscotti was actually Ritz cracker with pink cream cheese filling
Plate 2: American Eggs was actually ½ Canned peach, whipped cream, condensed milk Bacon was actually Deep-fried pasta with a red-sugar glaze “Home-fries” was actually Fried battered apples Ketchup was actually Raspberry Jam
Plate 3: Dessert White chocolate was actually White chocolate
More information/ request additional pictures
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: www.bit.ly/milanobreakfast OR www.sienastudio.org
This is my first (real) post from Italy!
We were in Milano for an incredible week, which was packed full of fantastic experiences.
I saw a few of the city’s sights, but I tried to spend a lot of time soaking up the everyday atmosphere of the city. I went out almost every night and made friends in the city, including a few people I’m hoping to stay in contact with. I’m also dedicating a lot of time to learning the language- though the Milanese (and the Romans, thus far) are VERY kind and patient.
There are a few things about Milan that are worth noting before my experiences in Roma affect my initial impressions. In addition to 100 small cultural differences, I find these things really interesting:
First off is that the Milanese think of themselves as socially conservative, and see the US as socially liberal. Some idea about conservatism is folded into how they self-identify as citizens of their city; which is then extended to Italians as a whole.
My second observation is that automobiles are second-class, always. The bigger they are, the more patient they have to be. They move like large pedestrians, gentle giants who are always expected to yield the right-of-way. The atmosphere is one of mutual respect; pedestrians give up the sidewalk so that cars and mopeds can park straddling the curb (though there really isn’t much of a curb to speak of) and in exchange, cars share the piazzas and streets. Bikes, motorcycles, and mopeds have even more freedom, they move wherever there is room.
Third is that every subway, street, and piazza is cleaned nightly. This excludes graffiti- which is so commonplace that it is completely ignored. Most of the graffiti appears to be amateur, and is either political or artistic; as far as I can tell, there is fairly little “tagging”.
The infrastructure is really well deployed. Busses and trams generally have their own lanes, and the subway layout is simple with stops well spread out. There is a ZLT plan in effect, meaning it costs extra to drive into certain congestion-prone parts of the city. Public transportation is timely, plus every tram stop, bus stop, and subway stop provides information about how far away the next ride is. Transferring from subway to surface, and vice versa, is free for 90 minutes. It is my understanding that the city is preparing to host some sort of big international sports event, so they have been upgrading their public transportation- which is great.
Fourth is that Milano’s social life is fantastic. The cafés double as bars, and provide “social breakfast” (the first breakfast is eaten at home in private), lunch, an after-work happy hour (food is required by law and generally included free), light dinner, and late-night drinks. At each major meal-time the cafés swell, taking over the streets (see the pictures..).
Overall, I’m really impressed with Milano. It’s a clean, efficient, spatially dynamic, and friendly city with a bustling design economy and an incredible street-oriented culture. I’m working on parsing out these observations into some architecturally relevant ideas, but for now, taking it all in has been really satisfying.
Sorry I haven’t posted much.. I’ve been too busy being in Italy :]
Plus some site issues… nevermind that though. Here it all comes!
The breakfast workshop was a big hit! Its not the type of revolutionary didactic project that I usually go for (mostly because it was a group effort), but its got some good substance, some real.. “food for thought.”
Heres the link to the website (my design!): www.bit.ly/milanobreakfast