The second day of LPD’s Eco-Acupuncture project took place at Villa Sassetti on Tuesday morning. Students from NYU, Melbourne and Delft gathered for a series of lectures highlighting the necessity of a comprehensive understanding of Florence’s unique history when dealing with its contemporary urban needs. The lectures in the morning were given by Italian academics, which provided an interesting linguistic and cultural barrier for the American, Australian and Dutch students. This barrier also mirrored basic cultural differences in their initial assessments of architecture and urban planning. While the students from Melbourne and Delft were eager to dive into more modern ideas from the get-go, the Italian approach tended to focus on the historical and cultural context in which urban interventions will be placed. After enjoying lunch in the Villa La Pietra vegetable garden, the students went on a tour of the palazzo and grounds. The tour highlighted the possibilities for intervention here at NYU Florence. From there, the students traveled to the city center and began to explore the city they will be working with for the next two weeks.
The lectures gave the student participants a variety of perspectives on their project in Florence. Grazia Gobbi Sica, Professor of Architectural Design at the University of Florence, walked the audience through a history of Florentine maps emphasizing the progressive elements of representation through time, and how a future vision of Florence must consider its history. David Turnball, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, then told the story of Florence, noting that a city is a dynamic entity that allows people, ideas, and practices to come together naturally, and this natural current must be depended upon. Marghertia Ciacci, of NYU Florence, then introduced the topic of food and agriculture and its centrality to Tuscan cultural and urban development. The afternoon tour through the gardens, led by Villa La Pietra’s horticultural curator Nicholas Dakin-Elliot, reinforced these ideas in his description of the valley on campus as a “hive of productivity and self-sufficiency,” and one that serves as a prime example of the Tuscan and Florentine landscape.
These ideas are crucial to consider as the Eco-Accupuncture participants work to guide the city of Florence into a more sustainable future. It also becomes essential that the proposed solutions don’t go so far as to mimic the radical “creative destruction” of the Futurist movement that NYU’s Richard Ingersoll outlined. The day ended emphasizing the necessity of finding a middle ground that balances the past with the future– if possible.
Contributions made by Jessica Mata, Sandra Carlino, Brian Merlano and Chloe Coffman, NYU Florence Students