workbook/ international competitions/ 2001/ May         MERIT AWARD

THE THIRD DOOR: GATE OF CONTINUITY AND  DISCOVERYIn the early 21 century a levitating sphere is to be placed in the heart of Florence as a provocation to thoughtful discourse.  The didactic nature of its reflective surface will nurture exploration and revelation for children and adults alike.

This reflective surface connects the introverted “ Parterre” to the more extroverted gates in the Piazza della Libertà.  Its ethereal nature is in sharp contrast to the permanence and physicality of these two existing gates.  The simple sphere is animated through engaging its context.  This engagement has one characteristic in its daytime manifestation and another in its nighttime presence.  Man and nature both declare themselves on the sphere.  The past and the present as well as the active and passive are all reflected on its surface.  There is reciprocity between earth and space, between gravity and weightlessness.  The sphere speaks about cultural specificity as well as alluding to the generic human condition.  The extreme simplicity of the floating sphere initiates many levels of discovery and interpretation — simplicity begets complexity.  The engagement of the impermanent sphere will surpass that of its permanent cousins.

(A Toy for Air, from the City)

As it happened that Florence found a mirrored sphere in its sky that cried and laughed like a child

Once upon a time there was, - a piece of wood- my little readers would quickly say.

No, children, you are wrong. Once upon a time there was a sphere in Florence

Created by certain people of Earth, and placed in that city as a playful offering to Air, its cries and laughter were of childlike wonder and of happiness to find itself in such a beautiful city with its interesting flora and fauna. 

One day, while hovering over the city, a curiosity for the citizens below consumed it so, that it permanently interrupted its etherial playing .  Like a wounded angel, it became so enamoured with the people of Florence that it began to emote its rapture by displaying their daily doings on the surface of its spherical outer shell.

The people of Florence, who were at first critical of this impressionable intervention and who were slowly accepting it through that metropolitan nonchalance so characteristic of Italians, began to notice the sphere and what it was reflecting. 

As the sphere quickly matured, its ever-increasing knowledge of Florence and its people transformed it into an intelligent speculum ... and the people became more and more attracted to its metamorphosis. 

They began to find out about its architecture, and, it is around this time that they began to use new policy both in their civil institutions, and manners, or customs of living.

Team members:  Arch. Ovidio Sbrissa; Prof.Arch.Frank C. Carter; Prof. Arch.Tom Dubicanac; Andrew Baird, Cameron Balloons 

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