Architects are always integrating. Synthesizing man-made structures with a landscape, unifying functional requirements with a building envelope, fusing family needs with a space they will inhabit. But how does one accomplish said design integration? I find clues and inspiration in movies that spotlight Rome.
“Layer-cake” architecture of Rome is my passion
In a perfect world, I’d spend the rest of my life in Rome. I’d wander into the Pantheon at least twice a week, climb the Cordonata steps to Piazza del Campidoglio every chance I get, have lunch on Piazza Navona, and listen to all the juicy gossip about Catholic popes of the past — the ones travel guides share with their groups at St. Peter’s Cathedral.
I’d be in my element. Rome and I would form an alliance and feel as one. However… Since I am not moving there just yet, I love watching movies where the city is the star. Even if I can’t swallow Peter Greenaway’s The Belly of the Architect on a regular basis, there are plenty of others.
Some of them are classics, like Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The Trevi Fountain scene is echoed in Rob Marshall’s Nine. I must’ve re-watched this musical drama half a dozen times. William Wyler’s romantic comedy Roman Holiday and Anthony Minghella’s psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley come to mind as well. They provide the taste and the visuals for my own Roman experience, both above and below ground.
Design integration entails unity and balance
Watching movies that feature Rome’s architecture, I am “transported” and feel as one with the city. There is a sense of coherence that comes over me. I gain new insights and perspective. My eye caresses the beloved cityscapes and the mind’s eye focuses on how to merge the inspiration with my own work.
The goal is to construe the spirit of Rome and to apply its essence holistically at every stage of the process. Design integration is the implied overarching theme as I take on the responsibility of correlating building elements, parts and the whole.