Michael Villegas

Michael Villegas

Philadelphia, PA, US



While studying abroad in the spring of 2009 the primary focus was to become consciously aware of the multiple scales, layers, histories, and architectural traditions responsible for building Rome, one of the most significant architectural capitals in the world.  Our studio’s flexibility encouraged each student to become explorers of the Roman landscape and to allow their unique personal experiences to influence the weekly design charrettes outlined by the studio brief.  Researching, dissecting, and diagramming such themes as The Piazza, The Facade, The Italian Garden, and Rome’s characteristic process of stratification laid the foundation from which to propose appropriate spatial responses to a small number of local design questions.  These programs include addressing underutilized space within the school’s lobby/student lounge, redesigning a neglected church facade located on the periphery of Piazza del Popolo, and creating a pedestrian bridge that would maintain circulation through a hypothetical Museum of Ancient Roman History planned to exist within, along, as well as between the Aurelian Wall.  Inspired by Carlo Scarpa’s bridge at Querini Stampalia in Venice, Italy, the final project is compiled from the sketches of individual details and joints with the idea that a joint is the bridge between two subjects.  Due to settlement and erosion over time the opposing walls are offset in both plan and section.  This results in an opportunity to design a two-part bridge with a central floating joint devoid of any physical connection to the adjacent side.  Cantilevering a single stone sculpture over the street below evokes structural inquiry that forces its users to trust in the integrity of its design.

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Status: School Project
Location: 41°54'52.11"N 12°28'19.52"E