Peer Review: Design Critiques from Local Students in Rome

Accent and University of Colorado Boulder have partnered for 25 years on customized education abroad programs. One of the longest running programs is a summer studio in Rome with the CU Boulder Program in Environmental DesignWe were thrilled to welcome this program as the first group back to Rome this summer after months of careful planning and close communication. The program features a dynamic collaboration with Roma Tre University, featured in this archive article from 2018 

For students of architecture and design, desk critiques provide important insight to projects from faculty and practicing designers. In June, a group of students from CU Boulder had the opportunity to incorporate one additional perspective into their work when meeting with local Architecture students at Roma Tre University.

The Environmental Design students are in Rome as part of CU Boulder’s Urban Site Analysis and Design program, a customized summer program that requires small groups to analyze a component of a site in Rome and propose a design intervention responsive to physical, socioeconomic, and historical factors linked to the location. To inform the project, the students enroll in a custom Architectural History course with local Accent faculty.

The proposed site is located along the banks of the Tiber River, in what was once an Ancient Roman port that also houses an arsenal built in the 18th century, by order of Pope Clement XI, to maintain the papacy’s commercial ships. Just a short walk from the site through Testaccio, Roma Tre University is the youngest of Rome’s public research universities, occupying a series of converted industrial buildings in the central Ostiense neighborhood.

On campus, the students were greeted by Architecture professor Fabrizio Finucci and a group of undergraduate and graduate students from Roma Tre, each of whom had participated in some form of international study. Finucci and the Roman students led the Colorado group on a tour of the School of Architecture’s most important buildings, including studios, a workshop, an auditorium, all within the grounds of a converted slaughter house.

The U.S. students then divided into their project groups and presented the work done so far to groups of Italian peers. Roma Tre students asked questions to better understand the proposed designs and provided feedback, before representatives from both sides presented their observations and takeaways to the entire group.

The initiative, which began last year with a campus tour and discussion with Finucci, is likely to expand in future years as both sides explore adaptations to the program and project to incorporate increased collaboration between the U.S. and Italian students, a unique opportunity for cultural exchange during a short-term summer program. As Finucci told the students, “Even if an architect comes from another country with a different set of urban planning needs, architecture has just one language and it is common across the world.”

This is not Accent Rome’s only collaboration with Roma Tre UniversityRead more about a customized semester for students of civil engineering with Texas A&M University.