Architect in training! Can I get some opinions?


My name is Alli! and in case you didn’t see my username…or the name of the post, I love architecture. I am in my 3rd year of architecture school. I’m working on a project in Italy about redesigning a piazza. I presented my ideas to my professor, but I’m not impressed by them. The piazza is a blank slate, resturants around the exterior, lemon trees, and its all concrete. It’s currently a place for a market that happens once a week.

I want to redesign the piazza around some sort of hobby or interest that reflects the culture of Italy.
I tried to make the focus on contemporary art sculptures, a book exchange, food and restaurants, but I forgot something important…

Why should people go there?

This is where I need some help… What sort of activities would you guys to do outdoors in a public square? So far I have reading, playing, drawing and listening to music. But what else would you do?



Hi Alli!

And welcome back to the forum. I was thinking busking, people-watching, maybe have a large chess board people can play on?

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oooh I like the chess idea a lot! And I love people-watching too!



A speaker’s corner. Somewhere that anyone can just talk to the world about whatever they want to speak about. Maybe lay some ground rules… No politics, religion or sex. Takes all the fun out of it though. :wink:

Maybe other forms of performance could happen there as well.

Maybe have an area where people can sit and listen, or just eat their lunch… Possibly design it so that the listeners can interact socially with each other as well.

Just a thought…

Personally, I love history. So for me, a little hint of ancient Rome, or the renaissance would be interesting… But possibly difficult to tie in with contemporary art.

So many designers forget the human element, and the designs can be quite uncompromising. The real vitality comes from people, so I’m happy to see you ask this question.

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I agree with the fact that we always forget the human element. Almost every time! What is the point of designing something pretty if no one enjoys it! There are several restaurants surrounding the piazza, I was thinking of designing the piazza floor to help draw attention to them, but extra seating would be nice! I was thinking of adding an elevated platform for concerts, there are street musicians playing all the time!
I bet I could find a balance between contemporary and historical,it will he tough, but it would make it interesting! Thanks for the advice!

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The one big thing I have always found with any location that is outdoors is that usually they are only brilliant at certain times of the year and certain times of the day. And this is because of climate. I have been to spectacular places and gone back at another time in the day or night and it’s far less appealing. It could be because in the afternoon the winds change and now you don’t have that breeze that keeps you cool and carries the smell of whatever food is being cooked. Or it has no shade through the middle of the day. So you can’t sit in the shade to enjoy the place. Or that the setting sun makes it unpleasant to walk in a certain direction because it’s shining straight in your eyes. Or reflective surfaces do the same.

I love to walk around places that I get to visit and a couple of times I have taken others back to cool places only to find the feeling and atmosphere is completely changed because of environmental conditions.

So for me I would look at the prevailing wind directions and place the food vendors so that the smells of at least of one is carried across the area depending on the wind.

I would look at trees that lost leaves in winter so in the cooler months the place is open and airy but when it’s hot you have shade and reprive from the heat.

I would use laser progected light at night to make things a little more magical and to give it a feel of greater depth.

And my 2 very favourite things I would use water and fire depending on the season to make it feel inviting. Fire in winter for warmth and light in the shorter days and water for tranquility and cooling effect in summer.

And my other big complaint about some multi vendor eateries that are a little above fast food is they have very defined seating so say if my wife wanted pizza and I wanted fish we would have to chose one because you can’t take another vendors food into another eaterie. Open casual seating with good table service from a few different vendors would be a dream.

Finish school and then deliver my dream weekend location.


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How about a sunken area for performances, a throwback to the ancient amphitheater designs, which could still fit into a modern aesthetic? Would also provide seating…

Form and function. The past, present and future, all combined with a very human element.

And acoustically, it could still allow the performance to be heard around the piazza, or alternatively, blocked out from the piazza, depending on the rake and depth of the amphitheater, and speaker placement. Most restaurants like to have control of their own ambience. So giving them the option might be more useful to them.

Moveable acoustic baffles could be a design element… And with the depth of the amphitheater, they would not need to be overbearingly tall or imposing to be acoustically effective, allowing the passing crowds to still see and hear while blocking some of the sound from the restaurant patrons.

Acoustics can often be overlooked by designers too. But sound is as dynamic as light (even more so). And you’d probably get some points for including an acoustic plan.

Imagine all the restaurants playing their own music, the sound of the crowds interacting, and the amphitheater providing a focal point near the market… Or maybe as the center of the market…

As @AMAK says, an area for seating where people can eat take away fish and pizza at the same time, while listening to music in a beautiful place would be cool. And an amphitheater can give you good control over lighting and weather. Retractable shade/rain sails… As used in the old Roman amphitheaters, but modern. Possibly automated with light/rain sensors. Very simple to make.

The interplay of sounds can be quite effectively channeled to add to the overall ambience of the piazza.