The Sixteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2014
Berkeley Prize 2014

Delma Palma - Proposal

An Urban Proposal: A Swift Summer Studio in Palermo

Upon return from a trip abroad many people will often remember seeing the magnificent famous buildings that might have brought them there in the first place. However, many of the most memorable experiences that occur while traveling happen not specifically in one building, but surrounded by them. Urban spaces in the cities we love are the environments that fuel energy, activity, and emotion. The memories made within these spaces are remembered for many years because they are what will always tie one back to the city. It is almost as if a part of oneself was exchanged for a moment within those valuable pockets of history. New Year’s Eve in Time Square cannot compare to seeing those flashing billboards on any other passing day. Shopping for groceries for a birthday dinner at Campo dei Fiori in Rome will always remind me that parsley tastes nothing like cilantro. Urban spaces for generations have been the stage set for significant events in society—a place to celebrate, mourn, or even protest. In being asked how to design “a healthful environment”, I chose to analyze urban space and its effect on the health (specifically mental health) of society. The effects of urbanism on the health of human beings are substantial, and must be taken into careful consideration during design. Throughout my architectural education, the significance of the individual has been studied from the architectural to the urban scale. The city must be viewed as the larger, metaphorical ‘house’ of the civilian—so that the human scale may constantly be addressed and successful urban spaces created. Human trends and activity have always affected the formation of public space. Historically, urban spaces have been determined by passage routes, topography, political activity, and other factors—and unfortunately, have also been damaged because of said factors. The program I wish to be involved in this summer is for the regeneration of a space that has been harmed by events in history. The program is a summer studio in Palermo, Italy that will last 19 days and focus around creating an urban plan for the restoration of an urban space within the city. Palermo, one of the largest cities on the Mediterranean and the capital of Sicily, embodies a rich history both in architecture in urbanism. Nevertheless, it has had to endure the physical repercussions of the wars and the effects of World War II can still be seen in parts of the city. Much of the quarter delimited by Corso V. Emanuele, the Foro Italico, Via Lincoln, and Via Roma in Palermo has remained in a state of disrepair since the damage inflicted in the Second World War. The summer studio will focus on creating a masterplan that surpasses the individual interventions that have been imposed thus far. Incorporating the recent rehabilitations to the city and dilapidated buildings (since the late nineteen nineties), the studio will offer a larger vision to the community for a unified urbanism and architecture. The aim of the summer program is to re-urbanize Piazza Magione (also known as Piazza dello Spasimo), reintegrating it within the quarter. Piazza Magione, at present, remains an empty and undefined area. The studio will work towards producing a twenty-five-year urban plan that includes a new piazza, and several urban blocks with mixed-use buildings. The project will culminate in an exhibition and presentation to invited guests from the Università degli Studi di Palermo, the Comune di Palermo, and local architects and citizens’ groups. However, the studio’s interaction will not be limited to locals during studio reviews and final presentation, but also to working alongside other architecture students from Italy and Russia. This international collaboration between students is integral to the fusion of ideas and the making of successful public spaces in a globalized society. The most significant time in my education thus far has been my time abroad, in which I was granted the opportunity to travel to a variety of cities—each with its own identity complemented by its architecture and urbanism. Travel has proven to be one of the most significant tools of learning about the formation of space and how it affects members of society differently. The summer program in Palermo also includes travel to the cities of Cefalù, Caccamo, Calatafimi, Erice, Trapani, Alcamo, Sciacca, and Corleone in order to study the significant urban sequences in each. If granted the opportunity, throughout my travel with the studio, I would document and analyze the urban spaces and architecture—through a collection of drawings, pictures and watercolor paintings. Throughout my undergraduate studies in architecture, I have had the opportunity to travel to many unforgettable urban spaces, and create my share of memories within them. I have learned the inevitable and intense dialogue that exists between successful architecture and urbanism. As I graduate, I become increasingly aware of the problems with modern American sprawl and its social effects on American health and living. I wish to take the opportunity possibly allotted by the Berkeley Travel Fellowship to augment my understanding of what can be done to improve the present condition. What has come before us can certainly aid is in ameliorating the built environment for the near, and faraway, future. If our buildings are to last for (and improve the healthy lives) of the next generations, there is no better way than a meticulous study of successful traditions of the past. As the last studio I would be involved in before entering the professional world, the Palermo Summer program would exemplify the traditional methods of architecture and urbanism that I have studied for five years and will be implementing in practice for years to come.

Palermo Urban Design Studio – Summer 2014

Faculty: Ettore Mazzola Email for contact:

The firm Blue Corporate Consulting, Savona-Palermo (an Italian firm) will be providing housing accommodations, studio and exhibition space, as well as transportation, and some meals throughout the duration of the studio.

The program duration is from May 19th to June 6th, 2014. Exact itinerary including travel is to be determined by the studio faculty. The cost of the field trips are included in the tuition.

Cost of tuition of the Palermo Summer Studio: $1600 Estimated airfare (Chicago to Naples, Italy): $1532 Cost of ferry (Naples to Palermo): $100 Meals not covered and incidentals: $400 Total estimated cost: $3632

University of Notre Dame School of Architecture faculty to contact: Professor Samir Younes -

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