6 08 2010

GROUP NAME: Spaziale
GROUP MEMBER: Joann Lui, RJ Wells, Shawntel Young, Adam Lasota, David Florez
ASSIGNMENT: Siena 10 Minding the Wall

Entering Siena…

When we thought we have fled from the confines of the Santa Maria della Pieta complex, we came to a city within a wall – Siena. A city where urban growth has been contained inside the wall. But there is one special condition where the wall is opened and the city sprawled out. Our group (newly named) SPAZIALE is studying this condition starting from the heart of the city to its boundary which has been breached and developed years prior; the heart being the Terzi and the boundary being the Fortezza di Sant Barbara.


Siena has a strong sense of urban organization and development. The most prominent is its division of three segments constituted by its three major arteries: Via di Citta, Via Banchi di Sotto, and Banchi di Sopra. The Terzi is often referred to as Siena’s belly-button and holds high importance for our departure in mapping.

Fortezza di S. Barbara…

The Fortezza di S. Barbara is located on the northwest of Siena, where an urban sprawl had been extending outwards through this opening. The heart of commerce and trade still very much remained within the wall and around the Terzi, but the area outside the wall has become mainly residential development.

Preliminary Mapping…

In order to study both the urban and suburban area, we took a walk around the city and mapped along the way.


The path we took goes from the Terzi around the Campo to south side of the Stadium into the residential area. Then we entered back in the wall along the north side of the stadium to the Terzi.


Along the path, we found nodes that were significant from the commercial to the residential areas, ranging from piazzas to intersections to public stairs.


Out of the hilly nature of Siena, the topography changes along our journey significantly.


General public transportation along the path.


Being the heart of the city, the area around the Terzi is mainly commercial while the area outside the wall is dense with residential buildings.

Path Interpretation…

Learning from our general mapping exercise, we did a series of diagrams depicting the characteristics that we see on our trip.

…Live Activity

The area around the Terzi and the Campo, being the main attraction of Siena, is full of tourists and activities, moving along to the Fortezza is calmer and less dense.


The signage along the route clearly shows the automobile nature of the suburb. All the words written in boxes are signs that are related to cars, and those around the Terzi are all stores for pedestrian shopping.


The obvious change in material is from the famous cobble stone that Italy is well known for to the asphalt in the residential area.

…Major Piazzas

As we were walking towards the Fortezza, we found this very interesting phenomenon: all the piazzas, starting from Il Campo, gets larger in size and at the end the Fortezza is the largest of all.

…Piazza and Routes

Further looking at the piazzas, we noticed that the routes are subservient to the piazzas. The roads act as connection from one piazza to the next but then they also becomes the public space when one meets a piazza. On the other hand, the public space is the road itself.

…Public space + transitional space

We believe that the connections are as important as the destinations, so beside from doing drawings in the piazzas, we recorded videos from the transitional spaces between the main public spaces.


Our focus is on the conditions of:

…Public and transional spaces…

from the Heart of the City to its Outer Boundary…

during normal and market days.

Means of Analysis…

After the different studies, we came up with 4 main ideas about Siena:


Experience of each public space is different and worth noticing. Each piazza has its own unique characteristics that stimuli people differently. Thus, the brain wave deflects more in bigger open space, and less in the connecting roads.


The route we took from the Terze to the Fortezza introduced several Piazzas along the way. Initially we viewed the route as a single artery from the Terze to the Fortezza but we later concluded the entire route consists of attractors (the piazzas), segmenting the route into several micro connectors. In essence, the entire path becomes subservient to the Piazzas, giving emphasis to the piazza, not the connections, like a chain.

…Material Influences

Throughout our route, we came across several spaces that varied in form and material. Being architects, we tend to assess spaces via physical form firstly and materiality secondly. Our study in material isolation for multiple instances within the urban context allows us to compare the successful nature of a space and its material characteristics, and more importantly, people’s reaction to the material.

…Suburban Sprawl

We see the city of Siena as a pupil, confined and internal, but from years to years, suburban sprawl out of the wall, resulting in many residential houses outside the wall, especially around the Fortezza.


In order to further understand each public space, we went on a 60-second sketches exercise. In each piazza, we did a quick sketch within a min (30 seconds for sketching out the section and background; 30 seconds for highlighting our idea on the section). On top of that, we made collages to show each of our 4 ideas in the space.


We all experience the city differently. In each experience, we believe that cultural spirit is as important as the physical space. Thus, we try to portrait the cultural symbol of each space in the collages  (wedding, street performance, fruit stand, church, tree, fountain)  by enlarging and overlaying the specific image and a word or two that describe the experience of the space.

Piazza Del Campo…
…radial movement

Piazza Tolomei…
…column division

Piazza Salimbeni…
…barrier layers

Piazza de San Dominico…
…entry spectacle

Fontana di Fortezza…
…central convergence

Piazza Quattro Novembre…
…transitional context


The connection from the piazza to the surrounding urban fabric is as essential as the space itself. We want to show it through the collages by highlighting each main corridor/street.

Piazza del Campo…

Piazza Tolomei…

Piazza Salambeni…

Piazza de San Domenico…

Fontana di Fortezza…
…fortezza / suburban

Piazza Quattro Novembre…
…urban / suburban

…Material Influences

Bricks, Bricks, Bricks…The city of Siena is full of masonry. The combination of different kind of masonry and other materials, such as grass and water, gives each piazza an unique atmosphere, some more inviting than the other.

Piazza del Campo…

Piazza Tolomei…

Piazza Salimbeni…

Piazza de San Domenico…

Fortana di Fortezza…

Piazza Quattro Novembre…

…Suburban Sprawl

The suburban growth only occurs at the last two spaces that we visited. The main characteristic of suburb is very evident in these spaces – automobile.

Fortana di Fortezza…
…residential sprawl

Piazza Quattro Novembre…
…automotive sprawl

Transitional Spaces…

…Between Piazza del Campo and Piazza Tolomei

normal day…

market day…

…between Piazza Tolomei and Piazza Salimbeni

normal day…

market day…

…between Piazza Salimbeni and Piazza de San Dominico

normal day…

market day…

…Between Piazza de San Dominico and Fontana di Fortezza

normal day…

market day…

…Between Fontana di Fortezza and Piazza Quattro Novembre

normal day…

market day…


normal day…

market day…

Final Installation…


…Final Review




3 responses

3 03 2013
2 09 2010
11 08 2010

Good work. You introduce the greater urbanism well.
Beyond individual comments for the various work, the next step is to look connections between the various ideas of experiences, connections, and materiality. What are the cultural consequences of the outer development and the automobile? Are the private gardens of the “suburban” developments (I dont find them totally suburban) truly ineffective or is it a different distribution of open space? Does the tight network of sidewalks and smaller grid of roads there actually support a residential lifestyle that offers air and tranquility that is not necessarily found in the old city? Is there a heirachy and mixed use opportunity in this area?
For me the question would be how to take the lessons of Siena- what works according to your analysis in the old city and bring these experience mechanisms, connections, and materiality to the outer development.

The collages are great. I would push the effects even further. The materiality diagrams are nice- include the earlier sketches somehow, and continue to zoom in. When talking about materials and materiality, continue to zoom in to the texture of the surfaces and the human scale.

Consider reducing the impact of the linked chain images and also varyig the heirarchy of the different images (section, key plan, etc.). Also explore various techniques of selecting and highlighting beyond that yellow glow technique though this one is engaging.

Good work. I cant wait to see the development.

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