On Urban Monocultures
Postcards from Haiti
The Duomo in Florence
Last summer, I had the chance to once again visit the Duomo in Florence. It is one of my favorite buildings for sketching opportunities. Admired for the engineering brilliance and boldly modern conception displayed by its architects, the Duomo is a geometrically dense manifestation of the High Renaissance period. Polychromatic and fiercely anti-gothic in its massing and detailing, I find the over-exuberant geometry inherent in the facade and floors of the cathedral exhilarating.
During my recent visit I found myself literally and figuratively consumed by the dome. As viewed from the exterior the immensity of the dome creates a visual equilibrium between the city and the countryside. The view from the interior catwalk at the base of the dome allows a visitor to palatably experience the immense volume of space captured by the structure. Ascending to the top of the dome between the inner and outer layers of the structure, you can feel the forces of compression and tension at work.
We would like to use this space to share our sketches from time to time. Maintaining a sketchbook is a good habit for an Architect. It is a discipline that fosters a creative rigor and, over time, builds a library of concepts and ideas that can be drawn down when approaching a new project. The act of sketching provides distance, in both time and process, from day to day office concerns. With that distance, your critical eye can refocus away from the immediate and register again on the broader context of the work. That may be one of the reasons that travel sketches are so enjoyable, and often, seem so fresh. The distance afforded the Architect from the concerns of practice is complete and the process uninhibited. (JKB)