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Title: The Heart of the Campus. The “European” humanization of University connective public spaces of XX century
Authors: Visentin, Chiara
Editors: Gras, Louise Noelle
Topelson de Grinberg, Sara
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Docomomo
Document Type: Research paper
Abstract: The University as a complex architectural type returns faithfully the image of an Urban organism. Just as a city it’s divided into places of living and public areas, private buildings and public buildings. The project of University, especially when it makes reference to typological model of the campus, is structured as a system made of parts that include spaces for life, learning spaces, and, jointly to these, an organization of public spaces that define a completed fragment made of urban spaces, new core plants in an polycentric space. Spaces where emerges a new laic culture of meeting, where often the architectures, perhaps even great monumental ones, backdrop to the course of collective congregation. Not only buildings but also promenades, not just rooms but also plazas, not just theatres and auditoriums but also plateaux and stairways. This architectural reality is often the shape of American campus but not only. The whole Modern Movement acted to define these architectural types, in Europe and America (north and south). Outdoors aren’t only functional connections but collective compositions themselves, following modern dictates. Identify the requirements of architectural quality of these areas is the outline of this essay. Persistence of signs from the city, signs of a collective right of use. Moving the value of the University settlement preferably on the space between things rather than things themselves, on the interconnections instead of buildings, to give a civic environments to the public outdoor. Promenades, passages, stairs, plazas, avenue, patios, connected atriums, fences: horizontal/three-dimensional space contrasting and give rhythm to create sequences in which attention should be paid to various places, to the distances, to the architectures background; empty spaces are enriched by their mutual and reciprocal exchange. There are many examples can be cited; all of them have exact references to urban spaces of the historic town, some of them: monumental stairs: the staircase of Columbia University Law Memorial Library, New York, 1895-97, by Mc Kim, Mead & White; avenues and water fountain: the entrance of Cranbrook Academy of Arts, by E. Saarinen, 1930’s, renovated by R. Moneo, 2000; bridge and porticos: the C. Ellwood Art Center of Design in Pasadena, 1970-76; malls: the plan of University of California, Berkeley, 1900-24, and the project of University of Arizona, Highland District, Tucson, by Moule and Polyzoides; open public spaces for new towns: the MIT expansion in Cambridge of the first decade of XX cent.; piazzas: the reinterpretation by L. Kahn, with Salk Institute, 1959-65; connective spaces derived from historical city: the University of Urbino by G. De Carlo, Italy, 1963-66, 1973-83; urban spaces with courtyards and patios: the University campus in Alicante, 1950-98 and Universidad Laboral, Gjion by L. M. Blanco, R. A. De La Puente, R. Moya, 1945-56, Spain.
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