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Structural Typologies

Structural Typologies : The Contemporary Palazzo

Master Dissertation studio 2022-23
Supervisors: Floris De Bruyn & Jan Baes
Campus: Gent
Language: NL

Description of the project:

The Mexico-island in the North of Antwerp is the next in line to be developed. Following the successful realization of the Cadix area it has a crucial location and will function as the future North Gate to enter the city. The masterplan for this second phase takes its cues from the urban tissue of the Cadix site and adopts its rectangular Manhattan grid. The scale however, is more intimate and mediates between the city and the harbor. The desired program is a mix of living and working. The aim is to keep families with children in the city center and produce a lively atmosphere in the district. In search for a clear identity, we turn to Italy for inspiration. The urban palazzo will be the object of study. The original palazzo was constructed to house a range of offices and trades on the ground and a large family on the upper floors. Typically, these lively activities were centered around a spacious courtyard. They distinguished themselves by a generous system of shared circulation and stairs.

If we want to stimulate city life, we will make a trip to Italy to measure and analyze these interesting building types ourselves. By re-drawing them a first step is taken to understand how they functioned and what produces their extraordinary quality. By using the comparative method of J.N.L. Durand, we will define the separate elements and unravel the secrets of this structural typology. Once the type is understood we will investigate if there are examples in which these qualities can be found in the Belgian context. On the so-called Mexico-island students will be assigned a building block on which to design a contemporary palazzo. We will focus on the adaptation of the found types to accommodate the program within a primary structure developed as an open resilient frame. Students will be challenged to use economic and sustainable building methods to generate the greatest amount of spatial generosity.

References/Further reading:

Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’École Royale. Polytechnique (Paris: the author, 1802-5

De logische constructie van de architectuur, Giorgio Grassi, SUN


Image: Hans van der Heijden Architect. ‘Palazzi’, 21 maart 2020. https://hvdha.com/palazzi/.