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In this collage representing good government, the overall strategy is to reinforce ideas of identity and tradition. Compositionally, the main image on the page of grass hills attempts to show a flourishing and clean countryside. That positive image of development is then surrounded by icons and pictures of Siena’s major buildings, spaces, and events. With regards to identity, Siena is broken up into contradas, all falling under one Commune of Siena. The identity of Siena is also encompassed in its major spaces: the Piazza del Campo and the Duomo. The Piazza provides a way for tourists and locals alike to have informal gatherings and really be immersed in the city of Siena. The Duomo is also a place of gathering, but has both informal and formal ways of coming together. In addition, the tradition of the Palio promotes gathering, but is really an opportunity to celebrate the community diversity of Siena.

In this collage representing bad government, the overall ideas of violence, overindulgence, and destruction are shown. Similar to the compositional strategy used in the above collage, the main image here is a representation of landscape. There is a sort of viewing rectangle provided in the top center image, noting that a well kept countryside is in the distant past and unkept, decaying landscape is pervading. Images of a bomb and blindfolded people represent the violence of a bad government in disarray. Also, an image on the bottom right is meant to portray bad publicity at a time when a government is not organized. Lastly, the barrells of wine represent an idea of drinking excessively, and also hint at a country where drinking is allowed among its younger citizens as well as adults.

The above drawings were analytical sketches done on the site of Piazza Battistero in order to understand the spatial qualities of the piazza. It became evident quickly how complex the piazza was: sharp angles, buildings of different forms and scales, as well as significant grade changes. From these sketches, I then begin to construct practice forms of the PopUP piazza.

In doing these practice sets, it is proven that I can include all buildings surrounding the piazza, as well as the archway at the top of the steep staircase. I was at first simply sketching out the lines of cuts and folds that would create the PopUP piazza. Then, I finalize the outline of all cuts and folds on one A3 sheet. The dark lines in the final layout are cut lines, and the lighter lines are folds or detail lines (windows, doors, etc).

Final Cut/Fold Blueprint

Final Blueprint Rendered in Watercolor

Final PopUP Piazza

August 16, 2010_Day Thirty Nine

Today is a very important day in Siena: the Palio! To reiterate, the Palio is a horse racing event taking place on two days of each year, once in July and once in August. However, the Palio is also much more than just a horse race: it is about communities, or in this case contradas, tradition, and passion. Each contrada of Siena is able to celebrate the Palio in their own way, but only 10 of the 17 total contradas actually get to race.

The second Palio of the year is called the Palio dell’Assunta. For this Palio, the 10 contradas that are racing are Bruco, Drago, Nicchio, Oca, Selva, Tartuca, Valdimontone, Civetta, Giraffa, and Onda. It begins at 5:00pm in the Piazza del Campo with a Historic Parade that passes through. The parade consists of fourteen different groups that march through the campo. It starts with general flag bearers and drummers, followed by each contrada marching with their own flag bearers and drummers. The contrada toss flags and cheer loudly. One of the last groups to march is called the carroccio victory wagon, which is pulled by four white oxen. This wagon carries the actual Palio banner and four Balia authorities, who are robed in red. The parade takes about 2 hours to complete, but then the excitement of the race begins!

Beginning of Historic Parade

Historic Parade

Musicians of Parade

Carroccio Victory Wagon

Contradas Flag Throwers

Jockeys Entering Campo Racetrack

When the ten racing contrade and their horses come out of the Palazzo Civico, they immediately make their way to the starting line. Awaiting the announcement of the racing order, the jockeys circle on their horses before the starting line. The whole crowd is quiet, trying to hear the order. Once the order is given, the last jockey in the order is the one to start the race. However, he strategizes, waiting to go to the starting line. His goal is to wait until his rival contrada is not completely set or is somewhat distracted. While all the jockeys wait to start the race, there are some fights that break out between the horses and sometimes jockeys, as the tension is really intense. The race finally starts after about 45 minutes of re-lining up and waiting, and it only lasts 90 seconds. All the waiting and anticipation is for a race that is three laps around the Campo. However, the race is very exciting as the jockeys turn sharp corners and struggle to make it to the end in first place.

The Race

The Crowd

Tartuca finishes first in this Palio! After the race is over, there is a huge rush to the Duomo, where the winning jockey is hoisted in the air and celebrated. I was actually able to march to the Duomo among the winning contrada, so I was able to act like a part of Tartuca. Men are so happy about their win, so happy that some are even crying. I make it to the Duomo, still in the middle of the pack of Tartucas, and there is a large crowd already sitting on the front steps. The jockey is also being carried on someone’s shoulders, and the jockey as well as the Palio banner is marched into the Duomo. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to be a part of this, so I truly take advantage of it. I walk inside the Duomo and celebrate with the winning contrada, then they all march back to their part of town in Siena, arriving at the Tartuca church.

The Passion

The Glory

The Celebration

The Victorious

The Palio

The Palio turned out to be so exciting, despite waiting several hours for the race to even start. It was certainly worth the wait, as I was able to celebrate with a winning contrada, both in the Duomo and walking down the streets to their own church. I know I will remember this experience forever.

This weekend will be a preparation and relaxing weekend, as compared to my previous travelling weekends. Not only is it a weekend preparing for the Palio on Monday, but also preparing for our final project on Wednesday.

The weekend starts with a review of our final PopUP piazzas. The finished products are rendered with watercolor. Another important component of the piazzas is that they must be self-supporting without the use of tape or glue. My final piazza attempts to represent building masses surrounding the piazza, specifically the Duomo as it meets the edge of the piazza. I also want to construct the staircase and archway that I feel are significant in this piazza.

Also on Friday, the horses are selected to race in the Palio. After the horses are selected, provas, or trial races, are held two times per day: once at 9am and once at 7pm. Each trial race attracts a large crowd into the Campo and prepares the town for what will happen on the day of the Palio. However, due to rain, the first prova on Friday night is cancelled.

The weekend consists mostly of working on our group project, as we try to compile our counts of people and gather conclusions. The night prova on Saturday is also cancelled, but I do make it to one on Sunday night. The trial race proves to be very exciting, and I am able to stand in a good spot in the campo. It is amazing to see how filled the campo is with people for just a trial race, but this should help me prepare for what is in store tomorrow. So with the provas and groupwork, the weekend really did turn out to be one of preparation.

Piazza Salimbeni transformed for the Palio

First night prova not rained out...what a crowd!

Sword Marchers

Racing Shot

Another Racing Shot

August 12, 2010_Day Thirty Five

To further understand our project focus of the difference in three wall openings, our next step is to catalog how many people pass through. While our previous study was more of a “stalking” exercise, this is more factual. Our goal is to count cars and people that travel in and out of the three wall openings. As a result, we should get a better sense of who uses each opening and the quantity of people and cars passing through.

I also am working on PopUP piazza models because the final product is due tomorrow. The layout of cuts and folds on the page is actually a lot harder than I thought. Using the whole paper is the main goal as well, so I need to continue to work on layouts to maximize my effective use of the paper.

August 11, 2010_Day Thirty Four

As time closes in on our final project due date, it is time to do some further investigation on our site. Our group has now decided on what our focus is for the project: we are interested in the relationships among the three openings in the Siena wall in the vicinity of our site. Although our project was initially about Porta Ovile and Ravacciano, our group is more interested in Porta Ovile as a threshold into the city. In addition to this gate, the escalator located by Basilica San Francesco and Barriera San Lorenzo both pass through the wall of Siena.

In order to understand how these three openings are used by tourists and Siena locals, our plan is to camp out at each of these locations and analyze who comes through and leaves each opening. Hopefully knowing how each opening is used will enlighten us as to how different the three really are.

The latter part of the day is spent at the site of a new assignment: the PopUP Piazza. The assignment is to recreate the spatial qualities of a piazza in Siena by folding and cutting one sheet of A3 (11 x 17) paper. Therefore, the use of the paper to represent the surrounding buildings of the piazza is important. The piazza I am tasked with for this assignment is Piazza Battistero, located behind the Duomo. It has a unique shape to it, and has several distinct features defining the edges. It is defined by the Duomo on one side, an archway at a sharp angle and adjacent to the Duomo, a line of street facades on the opposite side, and a steep staircase adjacent to the other side of the Duomo. These components shape the piazza by creating level changes and unique angles.

After experiencing Florence at night as part of my first weekend trip, it is now time to see Florence during the day. As a class, we are going for a field trip, mainly focusing on works by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi.

Proportions and sketch of Santa Maria Novella Facade

Similar to my first trip, we start out at Santa Maria Novella, once again studying the façade. We then move to the Basilica of San Lorenzo, spending most of our time in the Laurentian Library. This building was designed by Michelangelo and is noted for its cascading entrance stairs. The stairs are a part of a lobby room with unusual proportions, but still contain elements that create order and rhythm in the space. In the same site is Canon’s Cloister, an arcade of columns that separates a courtyard space from its outer circulation.

It seems like déjà vu that I make my way again into the Piazza della Repubblica, then to the area of the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Veccio. However, I still enjoy these areas and they seem to have a different atmosphere during the day. The end of our class-guided trip occurs at the Basilica of Santa Croce. The basilica contains important spaces designed by Brunelleschi, but another interesting fact is that Michelangelo, among other scholars, is buried inside the church. After our class-guided tour ending here, we now get to do a self-guided tour of the city.

Uffizi Gallery

The first part of Florence I want to experience that I did not get to see last time is the Duomo. The exterior is extremely ornate as I have seen before, but the interior has a different character. It is much more serene, which little interior decoration. However, walking underneath the dome is a completely different experience. It is highly decorated, as the whole interior surface of the dome is painted in frescoes. The dome is obviously the main piece of artwork inside the church and clearly stands out inside.

Duomo Interior

Approach to Dome

Underneath Dome

After this stop, we eventually make it back to Santa Croce to further investigate the interior and other important spaces. The façade of Santa Croce is reminiscent of the duomo in Siena, having an overall white color with black and pink accents, but far less intricate in its ornamentation.

What I noticed inside the church that was different was the ceiling. Instead of being a barrel vaulted ceiling, or containing paintings, it was the first church I have seen in Italy to have exposed wood trusses. These were an interesting contrast to the white and black marble of the columns.

Also, the side aisles where the tombs were located were a unique site inside a church. Michelangelo’s tomb is pictured below.

My favorite part of Santa Croce was the Pazzi Chapel, located just outside the main basilica. It is fronted on a long courtyard space. Designed by Brunelleschi, it is a simple organization of a central domed space with a main apse at one end, located across from the main entrance. Although the church is simple, it has one element that is clearly experimental. The way Brunelleschi handles the corners of the building are not the most elegant. He uses a pilaster at each corner, but it is not centered on it, so a little piece wraps the corner. Other than this minute detail, the chapel is a pristine site with a nice, framed view looking at its entrance. Next to the Pazzi Chapel, Brunelleschi also designed his own cloister, similar to Canon’s Cloister of San Lorenzo.

Pazzi Chapel Exterior

Interior View

Dome of Pazzi Chapel

Corner Detail

Brunelleschi Cloister

Another main site I wanted to experience is the Piazza Michelangelo, offering a panoramic view of the city of Florence. The walk up to this piazza is arduous, but the views over the city are worthwhile. If you were to travel beyond the piazza, you could reach the church of San Miniato al Monte, a church standing at one of the highest points in Florence.

After the Piazza Michelangelo, we made our way to an early Brunelleschi church called Santo Spirito. On the way, we saw the house of the Medici family known as Palazzo Pitti. The Medici also had a bridge constructed from the Uffizi, which used to have the function of an office building, leading to the Palazzo Pitti. This bridge allowed the Medici to travel from their offices to their home without stepping foot on the streets, being on the same level as peasants and slaves.

Palazzo Pitti

The last stop in our self-guided Florence tour was Santo Spirito. It was evident that this church was an early work of Brunelleschi, as his design skills were not yet mastered like they seem to be in the dome of the Florence Cathedral. The façade appears to be unfinished, containing a pale yellowish brown color with one central circular window, and wooden doors at ground level.

Exterior - Santo Spirito

Interior - Santo Spirito

Today is the day our first official assignment in Siena is due: the gate analytique. My final product attempts to reinforce the idea of the gate being situated at an oblique angle. It includes an overall site plan highlighting this feature, but also the composition demonstrates this. The site section that emerges from the center arch of the elevation is on a sloped line. This line represents both the slope of the ground in section as well as the angle of the gate in relation to its context. I also try to show details, both of the top of the gate and the floor pattern. These appeared to be important components of the gate when I analyzed it, so it seemed appropriate to include these details.

The journey to Munich begins by taking a bus to Florence, Santa Maria Novella: a familiar bus station, which also was the start of last weekend. However, this time I take a train into Pisa Centrale in order to get to the Pisa airport. This may sound crazy, but because my flight is early Friday morning and I arrived at the airport on Thursday night, I decided to sleep overnight at the airport. Even though this sounds unorthodox, there were actually several people who did the same thing I did. This made me feel a little more comfortable. Then, awaiting my flight into Munich, I meet a guy who is from Florence and on the same flight. He asks me questions about where to go, what gate we are leaving from, and how to get through security. It turns out this was his first ever flight, and he was around the age of 28. He was actually very interesting, originally from Romania and now living and working in the heart of Florence. He can speak several languages, including Spanish, Italian, English, and some Portuguese. This was an unexpected transition into a new culture, as he also lived a different lifestyle than any other Italian I have met. He works nights at a restaurant, but takes time off whenever he wants to travel places in Europe. Living life by the day and not on a prescribed career path, it was certainly something different.

After flying with my new friend into Munich, it was also obvious that Germany was different from Italy in a lot of ways. One of my first sights at the airport was the clothing that one man was wearing, an unusual outfit that is not uncommon to see on Germans.

This was my first taste of the unique lifestyle of Germany. Finally, I met up with my friend Bret at the airport and we drove into the center of Munich to explore. The weather was another difference from Italy: it was not hot and sunny like I was used to the past few weeks, but rainy and cold. Because of this, we decided to walk around the city, stopping into restaurants and biergartens. A biergarten is a restaurant with outdoor space that also brews German beer, something the country is known for. Its translation is literally “beer garden”, for the drinks it serves and containing an outdoor area. Most of the early part of the day was spent eating and drinking. I was able to try German food, specifically sausage. Later, we continued walking around the city and using Munich’s metro system to get around. On the way out of a metro stop, we came upon the town hall of Munich, an interesting structure that has a medieval appearance. On a part of the town hall, there is a display called the “glockenspiel”, which is a moving set of figurines in an opening on the exterior. It is a short event, but attracts a large crowd outside the town hall at certain times it occurs.

Glockenspiel

We also discovered a museum worth visiting that was mentioned by a tour guide we ran into. It was the BMW world and museum, appropriate for both of us because we are interested in cars. The museum is a facility that already exists, but BMW world is a new building. The museum was fascinating, not only containing unique BMW cars, but engines, motorcycles, and history on production. BMW world was similar, but had several interactive stations where people can simulate driving cars and learning about the automobiles.

BMW World and Museum

Inside BMW World

Another Interior View

BMW Engine Display

Bret's Dream Ride

My Dream Ride

BMW Museum

Outline of Car Formed by Steel Ball Bearings

Main Contents of the museum: Cars!

After the museum, we spent some time in our hostel that we stayed at overnight, and then went out to experience Munich nightlife. As another fan of clubs and techno music, Bret showed me a great time, as well as a few dance moves.

Saturday turned out to be better weather, so we decided to walk around the city more and see what we missed the previous day. Similar to yesterday, we ended up at another museum, this time a contemporary art museum called Museum Brandhorst. A colorful assortment of metal rods composed its exterior, evoking a minimalist quality, similar to the artwork inside.

Museum Brandhorst

The museum contained works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Bruce Nauman, among many others. One piece I liked most was essentially a long cabinet made of metal shelves and a glass enclosure. I cannot remember the artist or name of the piece, but will find this out soon. The unique part of this piece was that it had thousands of pills lining the shelves, all individually placed. The pills were all of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Half of the shelves could be seen clearly, but the top half were above eye level, so the reflection of the pills of the shelf below were visible. This was a neat visual trick and made the piece more visible to the viewer.

After the museum, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather by going to an outdoor garden complex called Englischer Gardens. The gardens reminded me of Central Park in NYC, containing mostly open green space, trees, and pathways. There is even a creek that runs through the gardens, and at a point the current is strong enough for people to surf! The main part of Englischer Gardens is an area near the Chinese Tower because it contains a large biergarten.

We ended up spending the rest of the day at this biergarten, drinking German beer, eating pretzels and sausage, as well as conversing with another group. The few people we met work for Disney and give tours to people all over Europe. I learned that It is not necessarily talking about Disney and its movies, but the company has tour guides who show guests around certain cities in Europe. The night ended with us talking with them about their job and what their experiences in other cities were like.

I have one last note about the German culture, after experiencing it for a weekend. I mentioned several times that I drank beer, and to Americans, this might make me sound like an alcoholic. I should clarify that in Germany, drinking beer is not seen as a sinful to do it often. It is actually common to drink beer during a meal, even during the day. Similar to Americans drinking water with a meal in a restaurant, Germans order beer as a casual drink. This is another aspect of German culture I found interesting, and also explains the fact that I prefer beer over wine!

On Sunday, after a great weekend in Germany, my next stop is Pisa. I arrived at Pisa Centrale after taking a train from Pisa Aeropuerto. My ultimate goal is to make it to the Piazza del Miracoli, the main space in Pisa containing the three important buildings: the Bapistery, the Pisa Cathedral, and the ever-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa (in Italian, it’s the Battistero, Duomo, and Torre Pendente). The whole city was rather small, and easily walkable. It also has the Arno River running through the city, making the views very picturesque. One nice piazza I passed along the way was called Piazza dei Cavalieri. It was a fairly large open space with a palazzo and church along one end.

Arno River through Pisa

Piazza dei Cavalieri

Upon arriving at the main piazza, it was flooded with tourists. This is clearly a popular tourist destination, and today was a beautiful day to see the Pisa monuments. I spent an hour or so walking around all the buildings, experiencing the entire space they are located. I really enjoyed the open greenspace that are part of the piazza, as it creates a nice ground plane for the white buildings to sit on. The whole piazza is very picturesque, as the white color clearly stands out among its surroundings. In addition, the unique position of all the buildings so close together makes it a much more interesting sight. The Leaning Tower was a great structure to see in person, as the angle it is tilted is evident and precarious. It was also funny to see a lot of people taking pictures along one side of the piazza as if they were holding up the tower. If you look at them from the sidewalk, they look like they are just holding up nothing, and very entertaining to watch.

Piazza del Miracoli

Duomo and Leaning Tower Beyond

Duomo Interior

The "Leaning Tower Poses"