The Kent State Forum on the City: MADRID.

The Kent State Forum on the City: MADRID.

After Milan, Rotterdam, Rome, Genoa, Turin, CittaEmilia, and Madrid, the eighth edition of the Forum is dedicated to MADRID.

Our attention derives not just from the fact that Madrid is one of Europe’s largest metropolitan regions, a socially magnetic and cosmopolitan city that is culturally and economically alive. There are, in fact, several reasons for our choice: one of the most important is that Madrid seems to have emerged from the past 20 years as a leading center in Europe for design excellence. What underlies this quality? What strategies has Madrid recognized that allow it to succesfully face the difficult times cities worldwide are experiencing? What distinctive elements exist here, in the architects’ works, that may inspire future generations of designers?

Edited by: Paola Giaconia, Eugenio Pandolfini.
Publisher: dpr-barcelona, Spain (2013).
With contributions by: Burgos & Garrido arquitectos, Andrés Cánovas Alcaraz, Domenico Di Siena, José María Ezquiaga Domínguez, Juan Manuel Fernández Alonso, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Paola Giaconia, María Belén Hermida Rodríguez, Juan Herreros Guerra, Eugenio Pandolfini, Salvador Pérez Arroyo, Gemma Peribáñez Ayala, Porras – La Casta arquitectos, Rubio y Álvarez-Sala, Federico Soriano Peláez, José Luis Vallejo Mateo, Gianpiero Venturini, West 8.

The Kent State Forum on the City: BERLIN.

The Kent State Forum on the City: BERLIN.

After Milan, Rotterdam, Rome, Genoa, Turin, CittaEmilia, and Madrid, the eighth edition of the Forum is dedicated to BERLIN.

Berlin has had a truly unique urban history and has undergone incredibly fast development with continuous demographic changes which in less than 200 years have made it not only the capital of Germany but also one of the key cities at global level, an authentic hub of ideas, projects, expectations and lifestyles. The Forum pays tribute to this incredible transformational power that Berlin has managed to have.

The grad students, studying in Florence in the Fall 2013 semester, visited Berlin with Giovanni Damiani and Thilo Folkerts, co- curators of the Kent State Forum on the City: BERLIN. They developed a series of cartographies of the city they observed, and presented them to the audience attending the event in Florence.

The Fall 2013 Kent State Forum on the City received the patronage of: Municipality of Florence, Ordine degli Architetti di Firenze (Florence Institute of Architects) and Fondazione Architetti Firenze (Florence Architects’ Foundation).


Edited by: Giovanni Damiani, Thilo Folkerts, Paola Giaconia.
Publisher: dpr-barcelona, Spain (2015).

With contributions by: Giovanni Damiani, Véronique Faucheur, Thilo Folkerts, Paola GiaconiaJeanette Kunsmann, Christof Mayer, Marc Pouzol, Ali Saad, Luka Skansi.

Spring 2015, LOOK AT ME NOW! photography and video workshop.

LOOK AT ME NOW! 2015 workshops.

The week after midterm reviews (March 16 – 19, 2015), students enrolled in the Architecture and in the Interior Design programs at Kent State University in Florence attended the first edition of the LOOK AT ME NOW! workshops.

Instructors were two architects, photographers and video makers who are especially talented in portraying contemporary architecture in photography and in video and who have extensive experience running workshops.

The Photography workshop was run by Spanish architect and photographer Miguel de Guzmán ( Miguel has been working for a good number of emerging Spanish architects, documenting their projects both in photography and in video. His photos have been published on the most influential architecture magazines, like Arquitectura Viva, El Croquis, A+T, Domus, a+u and C3. He was selected by ArchDaily as one of the 13 Architecture Photographers worldwide to follow today.

The Video workshop was run by Brazilian architect and video author Pedro Kok ( Pedro studied architecture at the University of São Paulo, Brazil (FAU- USP) and got his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, in the Netherlands. His videos have been featured in exhibitions internationally: at the Institute Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo (BR), at the MAXXI in Rome, at the Biennale di Venezia and at La Triennale di Milano (IT) and at the Centre Georges Pompidou (FR), among others. A selection of his videos, some of which commissioned by Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, may be viewed here: pedrokok/videos.


On Thursday March 19, 2015 the students made a final presentation of the works they produced in the course of the workshop in the lecture hall at Palazzo Cerchi. Antonio Godoli, Director of the Architecture Department at the Uffizi, was invited to attend the presentations. Marco Brizzi offered a critical and theoretical commentary of the student’s works.

A selection of the photos made by the students under the guidance of Miguel de Guzmán can be seen here below:

Some of the videos made by the students under the guidance of Pedro Kok can be seen here below:

Spring 2015, lecture by Ricardo Flores.

Lecture by Ricardo Flores.

Ricardo Flores, co-founder with Eva Prats of Flores & Prats Arquitectos in Barcelona, Spain (, will be at Palazzo Cerchi on Tuesday March 31, 2015 to present recent works by his office. Paola Giaconia, coordinator for the Architecture and Interior Design programs at Kent State University in Florence, will introduce his lecture.

The studio of Flores & Prats Arquitectos is dedicated to confronting theory and academic practice with the design and construction activity. The office was established in 1998, after winning the competition for the masterplan of the historical neighborhood of Vilanova i la Geltrú. Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores designed and built several projects, such as the Nuevo Triunfo Hotel (Barcelona, 2001), the Mills Museum (Palma, 2002), the Yute’s Warehouse (Barcelona, 2005), or the Campus for the New Headquarters of Microsoft (Milan, 2011), the Building for 48 Dwellings (Guissona, 2005) or the Building 111 (Terrassa, 2010). They designed urban public spaces, such as the Fabra & Coats Gardens (Barcelona, 1999) or Pius XII Square (Barcelona, 2005); and site-specific installations for major cultural institutions and museums, including Tàpies Foundation, Miró Foundation and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. At the moment they are completing the construction of the Cultural Centre Palau Balaguer in Palma de Mallorca. They recently won the competition for the New Theater Sala Beckett-Obrador Internacional de Dramatúrgia in Barcelona.

Image: Model for the Casal Balaguer Cultural Centre by Flores & Prats Arquitectos.

Spring 2015, lecture by Filippo Romano.

Lecture by Filippo Romano.

Filippo Romano, documentary and architecture photographer ( will be at Palazzo Cerchi presenting his recent works on Tuesday March 3, 2015. The lecture will be introduced by Guido Incerti.

Filippo Romano studied documentary photography attending the Full-time Program at the International Center of Photography (I.C.P.) in New York. His works mostly deal with cities and urban dwellers. He is currently collaborating with the architecture section of the art publisher Skira, and his photographs have been featured on several inter national magazines, like Abitare, Dwell, Domus, Io Donna and Courrier International. In 2007 he won the Grant “Pesaresi/Contrasto” with the project “OFFCHINA”. He is the author of “Soleri Town”, a book about Paolo Soleri’s conception of Utopian Architecture. In 2009 he was selected at the exhibition “Joy” during the International Photo Festival of Rome with “Waterfront”, a series from the collection “Trieste”. In 2010 his work “Route 106” was exhibited at the Biennale of Architecture in Venice. In 2011 he took part in “Sao Paulo Calling” exhibition, with the project “Slum Insider” on the Slum of Mathare in Nairobi, in collaboration with he NGO LiveInSlums. He is currently a member of the Agency Luzphoto.

Image: ExpoGate by Alessandro Scandurra in Milan, Italy (photo: Filippo Romano).

Spring 2015, lecture by Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi.

Lecture by Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi.

The Spring 2015 public event series at Kent State University, Florence Program kicked off on Tuesday February 10, 2015 with a lecture by Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi, principals and founding partners at OBR, Milan / London ( The lecture was introduced by Marco Brizzi.

OBR Open Building Research was established by Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi in 2000 to investigate new ways of contemporary living, creating a design network between Genoa, Milan, London and New York, further extended to Mumbai and Accra. The founding partners Paolo and Tommaso worked together with Renzo Piano. OBR was awarded with the Gold Medal for Italian Architecture at the Milan Triennale in 2009 and received an honorable mention for Emerging Architecture at the RIBA Royal Institute of British Architects in London in 2007.

Image: Children’s Hospital by OBR Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi in Parma, Italy (photo: Mariela Apollonio).

Fall 2014, A Lightbox for Art workshop.

A Lightbox for Art workshop.

In Fall 2014 a 4-day workshop was offered to the students at Kent State University, Florence Program, organized by Paola Giaconia (Kent State University) and Franco Pisani (ISI Florence). The collaborative design workshop challenged students to engage -though briefly- in the study of issues, ideas and practical problems in the field of lighting design for exhibition purposes.

Students from Lawrence Tech University and Miami University (attending Kent State University, Florence program), from Marywood University and University of Hartford (attending ISI Florence),
and from the Università di Firenze took part in an intensive design charrette. Their task was to pick an art piece – be it a painting or a sculpture – from the immense Uffizi Gallery’s collection and conceive the best possible way to exhibit it inside a small pavillion (3 meters by 4 meters by 5 meters), taking advantage of natural light. Each team was asked to root its design in the art piece it chose: they analyzed it, its meaning as well its aesthetic characteristics of materiality, geometry, composition. A series of drawing and modeling exercises culminated in their design strategy to best exhibit the art piece, taking advantage of natural lighitng conditions.

A series of lectures further supported the students in their investigations.

The students’ focused and sustained effort was celebrated in a public presentation of their proposals and in a small publication.

Spring 2014, lecture by Manuel Aires Mateus.

Lecture by Manuel Aires Mateus.

Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus ( lectured at Kent State University, Florence Program on Monday April 7, 2014. His lecture was introduced by Paola Giaconia.

Manuel Aires Mateus was born in Lisbon in 1963 and graduated from “Faculdade de Arquitectura / U.T.L” in 1986. He started collaborating with the Arch. Gonçalo Byrne in 1983 and started developing projects with his brother Francisco in 1988. The office Aires Mateus was then established independently by the two brothers although it was housed in Gonçalo Byrne’s studio in the first years. The increasing scale of work made them establish a larger and autonomous space to fulfil the demands. Since then the scale and the amount of projects has been prolific, resulting in several national and international awards. The visibility of their work has made them being invited and accepting lecturing and teaching at several institutions. Among these are the Graduate School of Design in Harvard, The Accademia di Architetura in Mendrisio as well as several others in Portugal. The structure right now spans through two studios both based in Lisbon, having several partnerships with local studios for international works.

Image: House in Leiria, Portugal by Manuel Aires Mateus (photo: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG).


Spring 2014, lecture by Stefano Pujatti.

Lecture by Stefano Pujatti.

Stefano Pujatti, founder and principal of ElasticoSPA in Turin, Italy (, lectured at Kent State University, Florence Program on April 1, 2014. His lecture was introduced by Marco Brizzi.

For ElasticoSPA design is science-fiction rather than just a science.
It’s a balance between form and function, it’s innovation and realism, it means jumping forward keeping in mind what’s behind.
ElasticoSPA is precisely that, “Elastic” in its approach to design and architecture, and elastic in its approach to customers, manufacturers and end-users.
Elasticity means flexibility, and ensures that networking tensions are always kept to a minimum.
Elasticity means security: think of the net below the trapeze artist.
Elasticity means strength: think of David and Goliath.
We frequently see ourselves as trampoline artists. Our job is to keep our balance when everything around us is in a state of elasticity. To fly high you must keep calm, start and finish with your feet on the ground.
Design requires practical skills: it’s fine bouncing ideas around, ours stand up to the test of reality too.

Image: Slow Horse Hotel in Piancavallo, Italy by Stefano Pujatti / ElasticoSPA.

Spring 2014, lecture by Carlos Arroyo.

Lecture by Carlos Arroyo.

Tuesday March 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm Spanish architect Carlos Arroyo lectured at Kent State University, Florence program. His lecture was introduced by Paola Giaconia.

Carlos Arroyo Arquitectos ( is a Madrid based architecture and planning office of international scope, with built work and projects in Spain, France, Belgium, Argentina, Colombia and Rwanda. Carlos Arroyo has developed protocols for innovation on all scales, from building technology to landscape management, developing new types of public building, or researching into new forms of housing. His work, described by critics as “sustainable exuberance”, claims to set the frame for a new architectural culture, language and aesthetics, through the ethics, technology and parameters of sustainability.

Image: Academy of Music, Word and Dance in Dilbeek, Belgium by Carlos Arroyo Arquitectos.