SIENA10 | Yarn Theory

1 09 2010

GROUP MEMBERS: Shannon Hohlbein, Matt Holdsworth, Brad Kern, Neil Shah, Ian Siegel
ASSIGNMENT: SIENA10 minding the wall

Our first walk through the area surrounding Porte Ovile took us to Fonte Ovile, a fountain built to serve the community who lived in the river valley just outside the Sienese wall. To reach the fountain, we walked down the steep slope of Via Valderozzi, through Porte Ovile, and down a staircase into the valley to the base of the fountain.

We were intrigued that there were three points of entry into the city; locations at which one could breach the wall:

We observed that different users tended to utilize each opening: tourists tended to use the escalator entrance, whereas locals in automobiles tended to utilize the other two openings. This hypothesis led to a mapping investigation to confirm our predictions.

From the data we collected, it is safe to say that the escalator is a primary tourist entrance into the city. We had already known that the escalator is convenient for tourists arriving by car because there was a parking garage at the base of the entrance, but during our investigation we observed that at the base of the wall was a major stop for tour buses; whose passengers frequently use the escalator throughout the day.

We also took a closer look at the vehicular traffic patterns of Porte Ovile and the nearby opening in the wall. Porte Ovile is a one-way entrance into the city—no vehicles exit through the gate. After counting the total traffic and comparing numbers, we deduced that the total number of vehicular entries from those two points is comparable to the total number of vehicles which exit: drivers who enter through Porte Ovile likely exit the city through the wall opening.

This led us to question: will Porte Ovile die as the city continues to limit vehicular traffic?

With this question in mind we decided to create a temporary installation as a type of experiment to test whether pedestrians could be drawn to the area around Fonte Ovile and Porta Ovile.  Our experiment consisted of laying yarn down on the ground from three different starting points, all leading into the Fonte Ovile.  To stimulate interest of locals as well, we used yarn that was the same color as the contrada that it passed through.  Our thought was that if something as simple and temporary as yarn on the ground could attract users through Porte Ovile, then a more permanent installation could ensure the life of the gate beyond vehicular traffic.

Through our experiment we learned that our hypothesis was correct and that pedestrians were attracted by the string and we observed several people follow it all the way to the fountain.

Our proposal for a more permanent intervention could consist of relocating the tourist bus stop closer to Porte Ovile and within sight of Fonte Ovile, which would create an awareness of their existence and could attract them to visit these monuments. We would also propose an alternate path with a less intimidating slope up to the primary tourist streets that would take visitors past Fonte Nuova, another potential tourist monument.

The way that we chose to represent our project and installation in studio was to hang our colored yarn from three starting points, each representing the starting point in Siena, and having them all meet at our presentation spot.  We hung various pictures from the yarn of our experience creating our installation, and of users experiencing it.




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