Intended for students in their third or fourth year, this course will involve two projects. The first will focus on handicap accessibility for a small Anglican church in Venice. The second project will involve the development of a proposal for adaptive re-use of an abandoned monastery in the historic center of Florence. The focus of the monastery project will depend upon the student’s home institution requirements and can be residential, hospitality, or commercial. Both projects will utilize a research approach emphasizing historical precedents, industry standards, concept development, and evidence-based design.
The course is intended to provide students with an introduction to Italian culture, both historic and contemporary, and through the application of their acquired skills to create potential solutions to real contemporary interior design issues in Florence and Venice. Outcomes will focus on digital applications that can easily be transformed into other formats.
As they develop their projects, students will have the opportunity to work with the client in Venice, and Italian architects and designers in both Florence and Venice for support and feedback.
Part 1: ST. GEORGE’S CHURCH VENICE
The prospect to create solutions for historic buildings is especially intriguing in Italy. This course will provide the opportunity to address a handicap issue at the Anglican church, St. Georges in Venice, and, the broader possibilities of developing potential solutions for the abandoned monastery, Sant’ Orsola, in Florence.
St. George’s church in Venice is located in the Dorsoduro district of Venice and faces Campo San Vio, a stone’s throw from the Peggy Guggenheim museum. The church structure was originally a warehouse for the Venezia- Murano Glass and Mosaic company. The building was given in 1889 as a part of the permanent chaplaincy of Venice and was dedicated in 1892 as ‘the English church in Venice”. Services are offered in English for the residents and any visitors weekly. The recent pandemic has resulted in virtual meetings. It is hoped that in-person services can resume in 2021. The building serves as the home for the Venice Music Project and served as the location for the exhibition of work by Russian painter Zoriko Dorshiev as a part of the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019. Over time the space has been altered to serve as a place of worship with a narrow segment of the space used for offices and restrooms. This project will involve reviewing that part of the building to determine how best to address the need for handicap accessibility. Students will have the opportunity to learn about local legal and physical requirements with the church’s consultant architect in order to ensure that their proposals will meet the required standards.
Part 2: SANT’ORSOLA, FLORENCE
In Florence, students will be afforded that opportunity to provide potential solutions for Sant’ Orsola, an abandoned monastery located very near the Central Market. Although we refer to the building as a former monastery, it has held many uses over time. it is thought that construction began in 1309 as a satellite to the nearby church of San Lorenzo. The church located within the structure is thought to be the original burial location for Lisa Gherardini, better known as the woman, thought to be the Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci. At the beginning of the 19th century it was suppressed as a religious institution by the French and ultimately served as a tobacco factory, subsequently serving as a place for displaced persons, and then classes for the University of Florence, but ultimately abandoned, its current state. Recently it has become the focus of a local renovation project by the City of Florence. This provides us the opportunity to develop proposals for all or part of the structure to serve the city and its citizens. The students in the course may choose the foci of their proposals related to the course work they would be developing with their home institution. We will also have the advantage of assistance from the local architectural community to ensure that solutions meet the stringent requirements of working with an historic structure in Italy.