diploma3 shifted its emphasis this year, from the more contextual strategic work of past years to an exploration of the art of building and a continued pursuit towards the idea that a strong sense of materiality can give meaning in architecture. Much of the work of this year has revolved around the concepts of insertion, layer and wrap and the ambition of achieving poignant and materially evocative spaces through a careful positioning of a new architecture within, adjacent to or around a conglomerate of ‘as found’ spaces and structures. In the words of Peter Smithson, “It is perhaps only when a work joins as-of-nature with another work whose origin is other, whose intention is other, that a single impulse turns into an observable tide, and changes our view of the present.”
Our context for this work was the remarkable city of Urbino, in the Marches region of central Italy. Founded in the 6th c BC, Urbino was reworked in the 15th century by Duke Federico Di Montefeltro and his architects Luciano Laurana and Francesco Di Giorgio, subsequently becoming one of the most important centres of the Italian Renaissance. The members of the unit were challenged by two sites within this predominantly brick city, one site sits adjacent to the treasured spaces of Convento S. Chiara; the second, La Data, a powerful void in the city wall which originally housed the royal stables for the Duke. The unit also worked with two remote medieval hamlets, San Andrea and Calpeglio, which lie in the foothills of the Apennines approximately 30 km to the west of Urbino. These sandstone buildings, abandoned for over 40 years, sit proudly on stone outcrops in these hills, yet are in a serious state of ruination and neglect, making our investigations here timely. Working against remnant structures in these sites of the landscape or the city, we sought out an architecture that allows for a new measure and finesse of inhabitation and an eloquence of material existence.
Working Drawing 1
The Responsive Suitcase
Working Drawing 2