Domestic Building as Civic Architecture
“A city is a place where men live a common life for a noble end. This is above all the end for all both in common and separately.” -Aristotle
After having studied the Florentine Palazzo typology constantly questioning “what is civic?” And “what makes a building civic?” I came to the conclusion that civic-ness can be broken down to three sections: Urban Scale, Building Scale and Component Scale.
All three sections are equally important and for a building to be considered Civic. A civic building is the one that maintains its character “of the city” throughout all three sections.
Urban Scale: a Civic building responds with a certain sensitivity to its wider urban context embedding the social, historical and spatial lessons of the city in the design. I was personally interested in the civic-ness of an external room. In designing a Civic building one must be able to control the voids left between the building designed and the surrounding buildings. After having carefully studied examples of Civic External Rooms in London and Florence I proceeded to design a series of external rooms as part of my scheme: A formal public piazza, a more functional piazzeta as the exit from the underground station and an informal but rather extravagant avenue serving as a shortcut to the city center as well as a pedestrian street filled with cafes.
Building Scale: as mentioned previously a civic building must learn from the urban context and translate that into building form in a sensitive way. Civicness can be found in the simplest gesture as the completion of an existing block. Such gestures can be found in my proposal in the extension of the side streets ( via del Melarancio and via sant’ Antonino) in order to have a more direct connection between emblematic Civic buildings such as Santa Maria Novella Church and San Lorenzo church and the Market Square. Extending the block with a triangular makes a slightly dysfunctional piazza into a series of pleasant piazzetas and gives the block a presence on the street front on via dei Panzani.
Component Scale: all buildings are made of components, civic buildings therefore are made of components, not necessarily “civic" in themselves but if composed in the correct way can make a Civic Building. From the beginning of the year I was intrigued by this idea of a palette of components carefully chosen and composed almost as a musical partiture that is translated into building form resulting in civicness. After studying several examples of components ( bay studies) both in London and Italy I started composing my own partiture of components which then resulted in a carefully composed building made of components such as a formally ordered tripartite bay, an informal courtyard or a carefully composed at that comes to inform the facade at the same time that it is being informed by it.