Architectural Imprinting

8 Oct

Many factors contribute to the eventual consciousness of a person- these include socialization, environment, upbringing, and philosophical paradigm, among others. These synthesize and act as an even greater gestalt influence known as imprinting. This imprinting occurs from the moment of birth (though some philosophers say from the moment of conception within the womb), that perpetually provide an inherent framework within which the conscious mind thinks. This is embodied in many thought processes, including that of architectural design. Based on the imprinting of a person, their structural design thought is slightly different from that of anyone else- it is uniquely theirs. They develop a critical dialogue between the present and the past to establish a permanent point of reference. From this concept an even more profound idea emerges: “If we can find in our own lives those basic structures that define our framework, who knows, cities and landscapes may have their own imprinting…”

A physical territory is imprinted through a different process than that of humans, rotted more in geography, topography, inhabitants, and history. When analyzing the imprinting of Italy, it can be further subdivided into three smaller regions: the north, south, and center, all of which developed through different processes of design and history.

The northern region of Italy can be defined within several parameters: military, grid, abstraction, plan, and Roman, which have contributed to the current state of northern Italy’s condition. Due to the fact that this region had first Roman colony, it is inherently the most “Roman,” which therefore meant it also had the first military camp. The presence of these military camps has had a profound effect on the area’s development due to their stringent geometries. The military camps were organized on a restrictive grid, to which the application of streets and buildings complied. Therefore, the design process of the northern region is very dependent upon the plan; the organization of space through the development of the ground plane. This method bestows upon the region dominant senses of reality and rationalism, which contrasts conceptually with the southern region’s imprinting evolution.

Military Camp_Stringent Plan Organization

The primary factors that define the southern region of Italy include plastic, chiaroscuro, elevation, and Greek. The influence of Greek ideals rather than Roman ideals intrinsically produced a very different path of progression from that of the northern region. Architecture and art were viewed more as a sculpture to the Gods, and design in general was treated more lyrically and poetically than in other areas. The intent was to create artifacts within a framework as an homage to divinity, in direct correlation to landscape integration. While the north placed a heavy emphasis on the plan, the elevation was the dominant consideration in the south. They were concerned with creating an elevational appearance of depth and contrast, and the image of the artifact itself was more important than the plan organization. Although the south regarded relationship to the context and landscape as important, it was much more emphasized in the central region.

De Chirico_Elevational Quality

In the central section of Italy, which is were Rome is situated, organic, earth, section, and Etruscan were the salient features of geographical imprinting. The foundation of the imprint is the merging between the moment of the artificial and the moment of the natural. The union exists fragmentally, with a plethora of layers superimposed over one another, alternating at times between the natural and artificial. The section therefore takes prominence, exposing the thorough stratification of the organic region. The architecture weaves below and between the layers, incorporating into the buildings both the topography and natural undulations of geographical forms. Additionally, the natural and artificial are manifest in the interplay between the built form and the infill of green. “The Etruscans developed a kind of ‘organic’ feeling because for them nature is alive, it speaks and is constantly sending out signals to man. The earth speaks, the earth is alive, the earth is sacred and every human action must fit in organically with this kind of feeling.”

Via Cave_Etruscan Sectionality

Within the framework of the central Italian imprinting that influenced Rome, Antonino Saggio established the development of the Urban Green Line. The Urban Green Line is an urbanistic project creating an ecological-infrastructural loop intended to reunite two major wedges of the city. This is enacted through a series of individual sites along the 13 kilometer loop, all linked through a new, extensive tram rail that becomes the spine of the modern-day city. To generate the ultimate design, five important factors were considered and expounded: multifunctionality (the plethora of uses and accommodations employed by the line), systematic greenery (the continuity of the natural regions of the city), information technology (data collection and redistribution in a meaningful manner), living accessibility (the proximity and ease of the system, encompassing both the quality of the experience and the access), and magic crisis.

Architectural imprinting permits intrinsically distinctive qualities of design and intention throughout different geographies and locations. It establishes a mechanical division in design consciousness, and evokes creation through a different mental landscape. In Italy, that imprinting is manifest in the three different regions: north, south, and center, all of which possess inherent qualities. Imprinting generates a vernacular form of design for a region, inducing familiar systems and structures that therefore become synonymous with a particular region or nation.


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