We recently returned from a long planned family vacation to Italy, specifically Rome and Venice. I spent a semester in Venice in graduate school and traveled fairly extensively in Italy during that time, and my husband and I had also spent our honeymoon there 18 years ago. Those long ago trips were recorded not only in photographs but also in leisurely sketches, quick diagrams and journal entries capturing the youthful musings of a twenty-something architecture student.
This trip was different. With three kids in tow, there was no time for sketching or journal entries. And, honestly, the sheer number of people taking selfies on every bridge in Venice spoiled my grand photographic plans. However, years of experience practicing architecture, having a family, and living in a large city as well as a suburb allowed me to see my beloved Italy through more mature eyes. Without time to sit and sketch or write, I did a lot of people watching. I paid more attention to how people live in the buildings, rather than the buildings themselves. I tried to watch how people inhabit the neighborhoods, how they walk through the streets, close windows in a storm, buy their vegetables from boats, and make life in the buildings they call home. It’s something we as residential architects do every day, but changing the lens can be a healthy exercise. More to come.