ARC500.5 Drawing Water: Hybrid Typologies in Florence (Fall)

Open only to students in the B.Arch and M.Arch I programs.

The Arno River, a crucial enabler of Florence’s rise as a powerful mercantile center, is simultaneously one of the city’s greatest threats. The Arno has spilled over its banks and inundated the city 56 times since its first recorded flood in 1177. Its most recent spill in 1966 killed 35 people and damaged priceless art in the Uffizi. In recent years, authorities have increased the depth of the river, built a dam on its northern tributary, and started work on dozens of retention basins to manage the risk of flooding. These prevention measures, which many still believe to be insufficient, have disappointingly missed opportunities to intersect infrastructural concerns with richer architectural potentials.

By contrast, Italy’s architectural history has been closely interwoven with its innovations in hydrological design. The oculus of the Pantheon for instance, finds its precedent in the steam vents of Roman baths. Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, more than an efficient pedestrian bridge across the Arno, is a thick and inhabitable bridge of houses. What can the contemporary city learn from these historical examples about how to intersect hydrology with architecture?

Course-related fee: A fee will be charged to cover  supplies and Florence site visits (2018–2019 fee = $125).

Department: Architecture

Location: Florence

Semester: Fall

Credits: 3