American Cultural Center in Piazza dei Ciompi – Award Winning Student Project

By: Fahed Y. Baker

World architecture award winning student project. University of Hartford.

The Concept

As a main focal point located in the proximity of the Piazza De Ciompi, the Duomo was the source of inspiration for the concept. Its construction marked a significant shift in the history of art and culture as a whole. When Brunelleschi completed the construction of the Duomo’s dome, his fame helped the spread of the renaissance of the Greek art and architecture. The revolution of art that came after the renaissance lead to the diverse world of modern arts we see in our museums today. Metaphorically, the renaissance acted like a prism refracting the wide spectrum of modern arts that imbues the modern culture of the American society.

The Piazza

The city of Florence has a fascinating experience emphasized in its narrow streets that connect highly populated neighborhoods and open into grandiose piazzas scattered over the city. Walking in one of those narrow streets until a piazza reveals itself is an exquisite spatial experience that needs to be addressed in the renovation of Piazza dei Ciompi. Also the Mediterranean style of the city has to be considered in this interventions, as well as the demographic nature of this touristic place. The response has to introduce a new building – i.e., the cultural center, to the piazza with no harm to its heritage or welcoming atmosphere. So, most of the existing conditions of the Piazza will remain intact. For some areas, where spatial articulations are needed, traditional facades will be generated.

The Center

The American culture is multifaceted and definitely greater than any single representation to be made in this Piazza. So, the ideas may focus on the cultural meanings that relate to the message that is meant to be conveyed to the audience of the project. Since it will be serving as an icon to signify the American culture to the people of Florence and  token for the Americans who are visiting the city, the center will have to contradict its surrounding. Hence, the unique form of the cultural center will be placed to the back of the library building leaving more space to the piazza itself, while the facades of the surrounding buildings are forming a traditional background that could be used for light shows in ceremonial events. The form of the building suggests unconventional structure and cutting-edge finishes to express the values of the American society of freedom, openness, and inclusiveness. The existing elements of the piazza will remain as part of the new design, however differently. The existing logia will be broken into several parts put in display, and the flea market will remain as an essential activity.

To know more about this project, please contact Fahed Baker

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