Learning About Architecture In Italy: My Study Abroad Experience In Rome

Topics: Architecture, Civic/ Cultural Projects, Design

Roman church

“I draw so I can see”, the famous Italian architect Carlo Scarpa once wrote in his journal.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

What I believe Scarpa was saying is that drawing is a discovery process, the more you sketch, the more is revealed, whether sketching your own design or a building in front of you. During the Spring of 2018 I joined 20 of my peers from the University of Oregon to go on a trip of a lifetime.

Sant Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Franceso Borromini, Rome
Sketch of Sant Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Franceso Borromini, Rome

Within 12 weeks we visited Rome, Florence, Venice, and Vals, Switzerland to name just a few cities we travelled to. After filling two whole sketch books with analytical and artistic sketches I developed a deep appreciation for what Scarpa was talking about. Everywhere I turned I saw a famous building or piazza that I’d seen in the pages of a textbook, but the words did not allow me to “see”. Throughout my travels I learned about designing active public spaces, façade composition, and daylighting strategies, all the while learning from the greats such as Brunellschi, Borromini, Peter Zumthor, and Renzo Piano. It was like each building was its own masterclass.

Parco Della Musica, Renzo Piano, Rome
Sketch of Parco Della Musica, Renzo Piano, Rome

All the lessons and sketches are recorded in two sketchbooks and a few of these sketches you can see below. I would love to travel throughout Italy again and I know I will, not because I decided to, but if you throw a quarter over your left shoulder into the Trevi fountain in Rome, it guarantees you will return someday (at least that’s how the legend goes).

A guest post from a young Coates Design architect