Plaza Analysis
RRY 02 - 08 - 2010

C Throughout our extensive travel experience and studies so far there has been one common factor which I have identified in each and every single place and that has been the occurrence of common space. Europe, and in Particular Spanish and Italian cultures have been the leader in common space in both the amount of space and the variety and differing experiences in these spaces. Plazas and common gathering areas have particularly caught my attention in these cultures,and two common spaces in particular Piazza Navona and Piazza del Campo have really intrigued me. The spaces, while in two different cultures share a variety of similarities. The most obvious and striking similarity for me was the fact that both spaces were just that, spaces. Being from the United States everything has to have an assignment, but both these spaces had no predefined activity and people were free to use the space as they liked. In both instances we visited the spaces on the weekend and there were a number of activities going on, from the art festival in Piazza Navona, to the street musicians and relaxing families in Piazza Del Campo. The spaces also serve each community as a gathering point and a central feature which has become part of the community’s identity. Americans tend to meet at our final destination, but European cultures meet at these plazas and walk together to their final destination. The plazas have also become the defining element for surrounding planning. In each instance the plazas have come first and the surrounding buildings and street layout seems to stem from the plaza. This is drastically different in terms of planning in America, as we tend to design the street and building layout first, and leave the open space as an afterthought. The Surrounding architecture also gives way to the open space in the fact that the buildings open up to the space and pay special attention to make sure that the architectural style and height do not impede or overshadow the plazas. The plazas do differ slightly in the fact that Piazza Del Campo faces the most important building in the city and that is the government building which has the way finding element in the bell tower, but in either instance the spaces allow such rich activities and cultural sharing to happen and are truly a wonderful element for the community. This trip has taught me so much about the idea of open space and has allowed me to realize that a space does not have to have a predefined activity, just allowing some open plaza space will allow for a variety of activities which will enrich and better the community.

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