A Tour Through Time: Rediscovering Rome through early travel guides


Rome is a constantly changing place and
even though to some level it seems like it stays the same – we have these timeless
monuments that we see behind us – but it’s always changing and it’s never the same
and having a way of experiencing those layers of change over time visually
really helps people to understand the beauty of the city of Rome.
Rome has been a tourist destination since the fourth century which is a
fascinating way to study a city. And to have a recorded history of how people
viewed the city and how people interacted with the city makes it a
unique subject for today’s audience. We created “Cities in Text: Rome” which takes
three centuries of travel guides in our library, so our rare books collection, and
make them accessible to the students in Rome because we have a wonderful
collection of rare books in the School of Architecture but when the students
need them the most and access to them is in Rome and we didn’t have that
accessibility. So, we looked at digitizing some of our early architectural books
and providing them in an app and we developed a little tiny app called SPQR-ND which was the first HUE app. When you’re in Rome, you’re trying to take it all in
as it is today but it’s also easy to forget what it was, so being able to have
this app in these resources to see what the city was like and how it has
transformed both architecturally and urbanistically over time is something
that’s really valuable. They’ve drawn on sites the monument as we see them
today and it enhances not only the drawing skills but also
their research skills and understanding of the place by actually sitting and
drawing it and looking at that transformation over time. This project
has been a way to deepen my education in a way that I never would have imagined
and been influential in my time in architecture school and continuing my
education. I hope students get a greater understanding of the city that they’ve either just been to or the city that they are going to. I hope that it helps them
interpret what they’re seeing. I know it definitely provides access to images
they’re not going to get otherwise and I think it’s very important to have access,
especially for architecture students, to additional content when you’re
standing in front of a building. You don’t have plans, sections, elevations and
details of building available to you when you’re walking down the street. When
it comes to designing and my own personal design, it helps me to remember
that building is timeless and architecture as timeless. These are going
to be things that are going to be seen and experienced by people for many years
to come. It’s really inspired me to continue research, so this project
inspired me to do my own research proposal over Fall break and go back to
Rome and see that as well and remember that research and architecture are
intertwined. We always need to be working back and forth with the past and the
present and the future.

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