The studio will deal with the strategies for the transformation of a coveted but obsolete architectural type, the urban villa in the park, keeping its attractive features but adapting it to contemporary social, economic, and ecological conditions. We will analyze the ambitions that the traditional urban villa type embodies and dismember it into the features that fulfill these ambitions. Based on a critical assessment, we will produce a new set of ambitions and cast it into a program. We will investigate the transformations that have already been experimented with in the 20th and 21st centuries, especially in Rome, Milan, Zurich, and Berlin. Finally, every student will produce his or her own design proposal, not as an accomplished project, but as deliberately unfinished work focusing on selective main issues.
The studio will be structured in six steps.
First step: anatomy of the urban villa in the park. Its main qualities: relation to park and nature, privacy, spaciousness, neutrality and flexibility, and representation. Average dimensions: 500 sqm, 2 floors plus roof floor. Historical examples of urban villas in their specific urban context that should evolve without being disrupted.
Second step: pragmatic dissection of the urban villa, with the aim of developing a functional program for a contemporary specimen. Use: residential; exceptions are possible but must be justified with good arguments. Critical assessment of the function of the urban villa. What is contemporary in this way of living? Social aspects. Climatic aspects. Ecological aspects. Grouping and scale. Confrontation of old/new requirements. What should be kept? Spacious rooms, representation, and relationship with the park. What should change? Overall dimension, use of the rooms, representation, economy, ecology.
Third step: conceptual dissection of the urban villa. A personal description of experiences and emotions in an ideal urban villa, structured under, among other things, entering the house, cooking, eating, and socializing, view, and physical relationship with nature. The narrative should focus on what are – subjectively, individually – considered the main emotional dimensions.
Fourth step: decision for a specific transformation of an obsolete type into a contemporary one, ranging from shrinking to the mutation into a multi-apartment complex. Other options are possible as long as the intense relationship with the park is maintained. The choice must be made on the grounds of the brief developed in the second and third steps.
Fifth step: research of references complying with aspects of the pragmatical program and the narratives, 20th and 21st century: Plans, elevations, photographs. Interpretation and justification. How do the references comply with the new brief, the experiences and emotions it requires? How do they not? How can they be used as conceptual construction material for a new project?
Sixth step: a new proposal for a contemporary urban villa as a consistent result of the first five steps, focusing on the conceptual issues and architectural features considered to be crucial. Collage representation techniques are encouraged. The projects are not expected to be complete, accomplished designs: rather, results of a methodic process of research and choices, fragmentary proposals with in-depth investigations of specific aspects.