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Comprehensive design-project for a Hostel for Students of Architecture in Rome.

Part 1 Project 1999
Issa Bensalem
Leeds Beckett University, UK
The cahllenges associated with the site, due to the historical situation and the density of the urban fabric, led to deep experimental consideration regarding the theme of contextuality and the implications of inovative design in a city such as Rome.
The physical nature of the site, however, became a significant generator during the design process, which involved , by necessity, a series of three dimensional conceptual developmental models, beginning with radical, purely artistic, sculptural expression of form, and gradually evolving into a more subtle, refined and practical solution.
The intention was to play of the theme of context and contrast, and to challenge the limits of context and contrast, and to challenge the limits of architectural preconceptions.
Elements of underlying complexity and abstraction within the completed scheme introduce dynamism and character to the composition, whilst the interaction of planes and materials creates a subtle "blurring" of the boundaries between public and private , interior, and exterior, building and non-building.
The scheme can be seen as a sequence or a series of layers, representing the layers of history, of time, of the contextual situation. It becmes a composition in vertical and non-vertical planes, conflicting and contrasting elements which emerge as a homage to the structure of the urban fabric, creating a satisfying and complete spatial experience.

Issa Bensalem

Issa Bensalem was born in Canada. He has multiple-nationality and is multilingual. In developing his design-project-work, he works with considerable independence, making exemplary use of the studio and the other School-facilities for as long as they are open. In recording his thought-processes, he produces delightful sketch-books annotated in enviably stylish, strongly calligraphic hand writing. Whilst able to offer computer-draughting-skills, he has preferred the manuscript to the print-out in his recent work. During the course of the year, he produced two design-projects, (both for confined urban sites,) involving site-specific compositions using several orthogonal grids, rotated in relation to each other. As a means of broaching the second project ('A Student Hostel in Rome') he produced a measured drawing of the fountain in the Atrium of S. Clemente, Rome. Its elements are visible in his poject-work: geometrical confrontations between buildings of different periods; between the ideal and the realities of site boundaries and the urban grid; light; shade, and the wedge of shadow in the cuboid of the courtyard; contrasts of texture; of solid and void; layering; perspective; rhythems; and colour.
He was awarded a First Class Degree.
He was included in the 'UK Top 100 Students' feature in 'Building Design'(16.07.99)

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