This exhibition, titled Atmospheres: The Wall, The Sea, and The Storm, features work by architecture students in the 2018 Florence summer program.
The history of Italian urbanism is inseparable from the idea of a walled city as a settlement guarded by heavy fortifications for defense against enemies old and new. From Florence to Siena—and even further afield to Venice, whose lagoon could also be seen as a fortification in its own right—the idea of a city wall is intertwined with politics, social order, and the concept of the “enemy.” Paralleling this historical trajectory is our own moment, when walls are being built yet again, aimed at breaking the waves of immigrants on their path to new life.
Using the contemporary refugee crisis in the Mediterranean as its main focus, the 2018 Florence summer studio questions the idea of the wall, tackling also the related problems of separation and interment. By repurposing the old city walls of Florence, the studio proposes new public spaces that would welcome the others, rather than rejecting them. Ultimately, within the confines of the old city wall, a new space for world immigrants is envisioned: from memorials and schools to public parks and housing. These spaces serve as a refuge from the political tempest of displacement and a safe haven for voluntary and involuntary transients. While they do not necessarily provide a blueprint for a political solution, these imaginary walled spaces act as visual and rhetorical devices that open up a dialogue about the role of architecture in the era of global displacement.
Faculty: Igor Marjanović, professor and course coordinator; Alexandra Waller, lecturer; and Carmon Colangelo (printmaking workshop, Ralph J. Nagel Dean.
Students: Charlie Bodell, Catherine Xinyang Chen, Zinan Chi, Wentao Guo, Helen Han, Qian Huang, Philipp Kentner, Julie Kim, Yin Li, Yixuan Li, Yutong Ma, Rebecca Shen, Josiah Simmons, Corinna Siu, Aaron Smolar, and Phoenix Yang.