Your first look at the Trastevere may be somewhat perplexing, even disappointing. Just what, you wonder, do Romans find so glamorous about this old neighborhood? Narrow, poorly paved alleys with no sidewalks wind among strangely shaped houses, their tile roofs seething with chimneys.
This colorful section of the old city slid into less-than genteel poverty several centuries ago, only to be 'discovered' in the 1960's. Suddenly, the Trastevere became the place to Live. Any scrap of property with restoration potential was scooped up by architects equipped with skill and imagination. The Trastevere's impoverished veneer hides an impressive heritage. Here was the home of Raphael's favorite model, called Fornarina, who, with her eyes amandine, posed as modest Madonna and equally demure nude in 1515. But the Trastevere's foundations long predate Raphael. In fact, they helped Emperor Augustus fortify Rome an A.D. 271 against barbarian attacks from the north. The walls survived countless assaults in the intervening centuries, only to be left in ruins after the struggle for unification of Italy in 1870. Numerous proposals urged razing them, but in the end, conservation carried the day.
All creative tools will be needed to transform this clients tiny hole-in-the-wall into a compact elegant home. The apartment offers little separation of space and none of the assets that enhance the popular Roman palazzi: no fine ceiling; none of those majestic staircases or loggias; the ceilings are low and rustically beamed. The windows are small, and the staircase narrow and off balance. But, despite these drawbacks, we will make the apartment blossom. The apartment is an integral part of the enclosing walls.
Its terrace is the roof of one of the city gates and was overlaid with pink marble in the 15th century. The layout of this long terrace with its terra cotta floor will provide a pleasant setting for entertaining. A light staircase connects upper and lower levels of the apartment. A survivor of mean streets and tougher times, this unique niche will once again welcome company graciously.
The new gallery is a beautifully crafted architectural structure nestled in gently rolling hills. What will not be so obvious is the structure’s responsiveness to environmental sustainability.
The building and gardens embrace green principles. Thus the environmental functionality of the structure was designed to build and operate in a sustainable manner: controlled water runoff, enhanced energy efficiency, climate-control systems, and responsible landscaping practices.
The building was designed to allow a consistency of natural illumination into the gallery. The play of light will begin with the surrounding landscape to catch the changing light of the day; it continues into the gallery with daylight illumination, which will provide a large percentage of the lighting required to view the art under optimal visual conditions. Exterior louvers above the skylights will emit only indirect north light into the gallery, while lenses and diffusing filters control daylight exposure in order to conform to art conservation standards.
The windows consist of a ceramic frit pattern within the glass screens. In addition, roof-mounted photocells will signal changing sunlight conditions, allowing track lighting and shading systems to be optimally tuned for protection of the collection and heat-gain control. The lighting is programmed to complement the works of art during the day and provide full illumination after the sun has set to help reduce energy consumption. Each time you enter the gallery it will have a slightly different feel as lighting conditions shift and transform.
The gallery was upgraded with more than 50-percent recycled materials and is about 40-percent more energy efficient than standard buildings.