CONTEXT The context for the ARCH 402 Spring Semester is Europe – Italy – Emilia-Romagna – Bologna – Bolognina neighbourhood. Bologna is the largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy, containing an immense wealth of important medieval, renaissance, and baroque architectural monuments. From the first settlements in 1000BC, the city has been an urban centre and a geographically privileged industrial and railway hub of strategic importance. Bologna is also an important transportation crossroad for the roads and trains of Northern Italy, where many important mechanical, electronic and nutritional industries have their headquarters. Bologna is home to numerous prestigious cultural, economic and political institutions as well as one of the most impressive trade fair districts in Europe. Bolognina district, which was developed after the construction of the Central Station in 1859 as an industrial neighbourhood, is located at the north of the historical Bologna. The productive character of the area and the existence of railway put the district at the target of bombings during the Second World War, which led to its reconstruction as a working class neighbourhood until 1960s. The district is now part of the regeneration projects of municipality including the new city hall and the railway station. The sense of community, reminiscent from worker movements, is still present in Bolognina. The neighbourhood initiatives, choosing the motto “active citizenship/cittadinanza attiva”, are still active in changing their immediate environment.

TEXT Moreover, home to the oldest university in the world, Bologna is important and known by the architectural schools as it is the place where the current international agreement - the Bologna Process - was signed by the higher education of the European countries. The quattrocento was a flourishing period for the city, with the presence of notable architects and painters who made Bologna a true city of art, rivalling Florence and Rome as the centre of painting. During the Renaissance, Bologna was the only Italian city that allowed women to excel in any profession.

TILE The city is also known for its red tiled roofs. Bologna red became the emblem of its traditional architecture. Bologna is known in Italy as “La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa”, which translates as “the educated, the red, the fat”. “Educated” is for the city’s university, the oldest in Europe and home to such intellectual greats as the novelist Umberto Eco. “Red” refers both to the red bricks that most of Bologna’s historic buildings and porticoes are made from, and to the city’s history of leftist politics.

TEXTILE Between outlets of two river valleys: Reno and Savena, regulation of water has always been crucial for Bologna. After the 12th century, energy gathered from the torrential waters of these rivers guaranteed economic power for the city that would have its greatest success in silk production. Over the course of canals, the activities related to “textile”, such as fulling of woollen cloth, spinning of silk, roving, weaving, colouring of veils, were occurring supported by the cultivation of mulberry trees, silkworm and cocoons. In the 17th century, Bologna became an important city for silk production, which was feeding more than a third of the population. Even today, Bologna houses Fashion and Textile Industry Trade Fairs.

THE GOAL A Contemporary Infrastructure for ARCHITECTURAL CULTURE in Bologna.

The goal of our second semester Design Studio is to shift the context to a different urban environment and culture, to study a complex architectural program. Your research will transform into a structural composition which will accommodate a desired living and working “infrastructure” for an extension to ALMA MATER (1088 AC). The existing university aims to develop new premises as they describe:

“…an environmentally sustainable development site with an international vocation, providing facilities for departments, teaching, student activities, sports equipment, parks and community facilities also open to the public….the Alma Mater aims to underline its international character and strategic role in the city and for the city of Bologna.”

“The main objectives of the project defined by the university are: to renew the “pact” with the city; to increase the university’s international dimension; to concretely support the right to education;to promote environmental sustainability; to complete the University’s building plan; to rationalise the university facilities around the city.”

The term “infrastructure” here refers to the organizational and physical layouts of various functions and facilities such as the movement patterns, power supplies, information flow, research dissemination, needed for the operation of an academic society and its enterprise. The enterprise, or the building, can be defined as a physical component of interrelated systems providing spaces and services essential to enable, sustain and enhance societal living conditions. Therefore, the ALMA MATER extension should provide not only a technical infrastructure, but also a network of integrated, mutually reinforcing, evolving infrastructures which include social, epistemological and ethical affairs. Based on the research students have done in the Fall semester, the term ethics refers to the use of environmentally responsible materials, functions (edible landscape - water recycle) and adaptable didactic environments. Therefore, being “contemporary” for a project in Bologna, requires a good understanding of the historical qualities of the existing city and a well thought methodology for a sound projection for the future of its architecture.