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question 13: how has your outlook on architecture changed?

notes on the first round and a sound

(this is lengthy, but quite a bit important to me)

I have a hard time compartmentalizing my life. (Barriers never existed.) Literature, music, fashion. Food, philosophy, film. Sport, laughables, loved ones. Architecture. They live in the same place. Incite the same joy. Evoke the same smile. Twist the same mind. And suddenly I’m surrounded by this idyll I’ve created for myself: a confusing mess of my favorite writers singing their words in my favorite composer’s melodies whilst in my favorite scenes of my favorite movies. I was always wary of acknowledging this–it is a student’s job to focus, right? I mean really focus. To find your corner and pick at it.

So there I am, half content to operate within my world of Marielle-shaped particulars and half struggling to become a real Architecture Student (with the correct ‘focus’ and the correct ‘corner’ and everything). Rome was just supposed to be a continuation of this. But then something changed.

Maybe it was that first day or that first walk or the first time Ross made a dinner that I stole bites from in our half-lit dining room. Or my first time at the Avetine. Or the first peek through the keyhole. My first encounter with the celloist in the Santa Maria piazza. The first time I tripped on a cobblestone. The first thunderstorm from my windowsill.  The coziness that resulted from our broken lightbulb.  I don’t know.  But sometime during these last three months, my mismatched unison began falling into harmony. And a common denominator began to peek through. And architecture began to smile at me from a different place altogether.

Because it wasn’t the big things that got me. It wasn’t the beeline towards Vatican City or photographing the Coliseum or the pilgrimage to the Jubilee Church. It was tiny, tiny moments.  Architecture tore itself away from spotlight.

To create a built environment isn’t the goal to strive toward. It’s the vessel taking me there. It’s the stage for the performances of life’s stories. It’s the way Tam’s ukelele harmonized with the rain, echoing in the concrete concert hall of Scarpa’s Brion tombs. It’s sitting with a boy on a wall surrounding Villa Rotonda, looking away from Villa Rotonda, forgetting about cameras and sketchbooks; and talking instead about symmetry and wells and how white buildings shimmer in the sun. It’s sitting on the basement floor of an English bookstore flipping through books about street style. It’s playing with the rainbow light falling from stained-glass windows and onto the dark walls of a candle-lit church. It’s the Pantheon when it rains. (It’s Stadio Olimpico when it rains and Lazio destroys Inter Milan 3-1.)

My time in Rome comes to a close, and I come full circle. Me the student no longer argues with me the person, and architecture transcends the notions of styles and codes and trends and rules. Architecture becomes the composer of the lived moment. It accommodates all those other things, the fancies and the whims and the important things. And as a student of the discipline it’s important to acknowledge this, to recognize my opportunity to magnify these moments, to recognize the built as a part of me, apart from me, as a participant and a maker, as an inhabitant and a dreamer.

2 Comments to question 13: how has your outlook on architecture changed?

  • cbemis says:

    ‘Architecture becomes the composer of the lived moment.’

    That (and the rest of the blog going along with it) was a beautiful, and beautifully honest thing to read.

  • avincent says:

    Mar – This is a gorgeously vivid painting of our quarter! I’ve really enjoyed your poetics, thank you. I hope you’ve begun to discover your corner, I kinda understand the feeling. I may be on the track for a corner of my own…Can’t wait to hear your take on the imagery of Japan!

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