Castiglion Fiorentino:

Re-thinking the Spirit of Place. Hill towns reveal themselves in the morphological traces of their history. Organic urbanism was normally formed from a nucleus and then grown outward.

Some cities are coherent in their evolution while others are more fragmented. When there is urban coherence you will encounter the spirit of place even if the buildings are in different styles. This sense of wholeness is often missing in modern urban design as architects and planners are impatient with existing conditions and preoccupied with inventing new architectural forms and master plans that ignore the existing urban system. Whatwe understand as spirit of place emerges through an adaptive design process that transforms existing conditions and generates a formal coherence in the fabric.

The urban form of Castiglion Fiorentino that we see today was not designed; it was constructed piecemeal over hundreds of years. Theorganic process of building involved transforming inherited conditions to accommodate changing uses and meanings. Consequently, through this adaptive process the hill town has come to embody a spirit of place through the process of making its fabric.

According to Vittorio Gregotti(1985), who had studied the hill town of Urbino over decades: The physical spirit of history is the built environment which surrounds us, the manner of its transformation into visible things, its gathering of depths and meaning which differ not only because of what the environment appears to be, but also because of what it is structurally. The environment is composed of the traces of its own history. If geography is therefore the way in which the signs of history solidify and are superimposed in a form, the architecture project has the task of drawing attention to the essence of the environmental context through the transformation of form.

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Robert M Baron - The University of Texas at San Antonio

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