The Uffizi Gallery is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.
Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates – hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). Construction was continued to Vasari’s design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades’ continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.
Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a substantially shorter wait. Tickets can also be purchased from a lesser-used ticket window at the Orsanmichele that serves multiple museums.
In early August 2007, Florence was caught with a large rainstorm, and the Gallery was partially flooded, with water leaking through the ceiling, and the visitors had to be evacuated. There was a much more significant flood in 1966 which damaged most of the art collections in Florence severely, including the Uffizi.
Shaping the future of the city in the 21st century… This is a challenge that has been taken up by the IBA Hamburg International Building Exhibition, with projects that make an innovative and sustainable contribution to current issues of urban development. Between now and 2013 and in the heart of the Hanseatic city, IBA Hamburg will be staging more than 60 social, cultural and building-related projects and programmes as a blueprint for the 21st century, showing how the metropolis can continue to grow in a socially and ecologically balanced way. The IBA project occupies an area of 35 square kilometres on Hamburg’s Elbe islands of Wilhelmsburg and Veddel and in the Harburg Upriver Port. It aims to be a model of sustainable and future-oriented inner city development. This is an area inhabited by 55,000 people of more than 100 different nationalities.
International building exhibitions and IBA Hamburg
International building exhibitions have been a major tradition in Germany since 1901, in terms of both municipal planning and building culture. They have always been more than just exhibitions, engaging at all times with current contemporary challenges.
The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg launched the IBA in 2006, with the aim of initiating ‘Building the City Anew’ and providing this with a conceptual underpinning, based on new strategies connected with three topical and internationally discussed urban development themes. The first of these relates to the question of the future shape of shared living in an urban society that is becoming more international and multicultural all the time. This guiding ideal goes by the name of the ‘Cosmopolis’. The second guiding ideal, ‘Metrozones’, aims to highlight the often concealed potential of the ‘inner city per iphery’. And finally with its third headline project, ‘City in Climate Change’, IBA Hamburg tackles the question how to balance the requirements of urban growth and climate conservation.
Cosmopolis – New Opportunities for the City
Projects under this heading fall in three areas of activity. The central focus is on education. Not only is an educational offensive looking into new pedagogical and conceptual approaches to improving the educational situation in districts dominated by immi
gration; new trail-blazing educational facilities like the Tor zur Welt [Gate to the World] training centre have also been set up under the auspices of IBA Hamburg. Other projects, like those of the ‘Elbe Island Creative Quarter’, focus on living and living space, and demonstrate how conditions of life can be improved for the local population and how new models of urban neighbourhoods can function. Projects like the Weltquartier urban renovation project, which was enthusiastically supported by neighbourhood residents, and the Veringhöfe Nord artists’ studios have also shown how local residents and businesses can be actively involved in the planning process and contribute to the shaping of their environment.
Metrozones – New Spaces for the City
IBA Hamburg’s presentation area amounts to a patchwork measuring 35 square kilometres – between the city and port, between quiet and hubbub, between green spaces and grey transport axes. The motorways and railway lines cut right across the Elbe islands in a north-south direction. So the aim is to create spaces based on existing hiatuses and breaks in the urban network, such as multi-lane highways, marshland and empty industrial areas, with a view to toning down sharp contrasts. Such places would represent a new form of urban culture, depending on the unique qualities of Europe’s largest river island – the inner city landscape and the scenic variety of the watery setting. The centrepiece of IBA’s plans under this heading is the Wilhelmsburg Mitte [Central Wilhelmsburg] project, the showcase specimen scheduled for IBA Hamburg in 2013. An important component in this is the ‘building exhibition within the building exhibition’, presenting innovative solutions for aesthetically ambitious and at the same time cost-effective, adaptable and sustainable buildings. 17 buildings were built on an area of about two hectars – including three Hybrid Houses, four Smart Material Houses, five Smart Price Houses and five Water Houses with a total of 179 residential units.
The new Wilhelmsburg Mitte centre not only touches on the future ‘New Style Public Park’ of Hamburg’s International Garden Show 2013 (igs 2013), it also combines with the latter to form a central point of departure for the forward-looking development of this district of the city.
Cities and Climate Change – New Energies for the City
In view of its position in the heart of the area where the Elbe’s current divides, this location is more suitable than any other to represent issues of preventive and adaptive climate protection. Ever since the island was first inhabited, flooding has
been a constant risk – a risk highlighted by the overwhelming flood disaster of February 1962. So there is an imperative need in Wilhelmsburg of new strategies for dealing with floods, rising ground water levels and heavy rain conditions. But model urban development strategies for CO2-neutral building are no less in demand. So IBA has devised a climate protection scheme under the heading ‘Renewable Wilhelmsburg’, hoping this will serve as a basis for the gradual switchover to supplying energy to the Elbe islands on a completely regenerative basis. For this reason IBA Hamburg follows a practice of climatically friendly building, and relies on domestic and sustainable sources of energy. For example, the wind power plant on the former landfill site in Georgswerder is being ‘revitalised’ – its output is being boosted and supplemented by a big photovoltaic system. A one-time flak bunker, an internally decayed relic of the Second World War, is being converted to an ‘energy bunker’ with the help of solar collectors and a gigantic water reservoir. In future it should be able to supply clean energy to around 3000 homes in the adjacent city district.
Finally there is the IBA DOCK – IBA Hamburg’s central exhibition and office building, presented last year as its first innovative construction project. This not only adapts to the changing water levels in the tidal Müggenburger Zollhafen port, it even generates its own supply of CO2-neutral heating.