Interview with Romina Canna
As we gear up for the launch of our masters program this fall, in the following weeks we’ll be introducing some of our stellar faculty members in a series of exclusive short and sweet interviews that tell us a bit more about these seasoned urban practicioners; from personal favorites to snippets of advice to young urbanism students.
Today we introduce Romina Canna, architect and urban planner of R+D Studio, who focuses on infrastructure as an active component of urban space and urban development. She is an adjunct professor at the IE University School of Architecture and Design in Segovia and was co-president of the Chicago Architectural Club.
Before we begin…
Your specialty: I am very interested in the relationship between infrastructure, architecture and urbanism. You could call it…infrastructural architecturism and architectural infrastructurism.
What will you bring to the course Regenerating Intermediate Landscapes? While living in the United States and as part of my dissertation, I have been observing the relationship between cities and its infrastructures, thinking about the consequences of an unresolved collapse of territory as space and mobility as function. I would bring a discussion about the crisis that this collapse brought into the shape of the territory (urban or ex-urban) and into our discipline.
What do you think differentiates this masters course from other lines of urban study/practice? There are two main ideas that make a difference: first, the idea of intermediacy raises the question of how we operate in the territories of the “in between” (spatial and jurisdictional) at a certain scale. Secondly, the territory as landscape is a topic that has not been explored in Spain as much as in other countries, which suggests that we have an opportunity to rethink the tools we use to operate in those territories and to conduct a local exploration and perhaps arrive at a definition of landscape applied to a specific context.
1. A model city, or one you would choose to live in: Barcelona is the model city of the last century and I like that time in history.
2. Favorite urbanism books: Two: The View from the Road is one of my all-time favorites; it is fun, propositional and offers a method. Ladders, by Albert Pope is another book to read word for word, without skipping a line.
3. Something you like and dislike about [city you live in]: Segovia. I like wandering the city because of its unexpectedness; you never know what you will see next. The apparent disorder of the urban fabric is, for me, closer to real life, an ever-changing spatial experience. I dislike, very much, how the cars have irrupted into the old city diminishing and fracturing its spatial quality.
4. When you aren’t working, you most enjoy: Traveling, wandering and taking photos without a map.
5. The biggest challenge architects and urban planners face today: To define what an architect or an urban planner does, or is good for.
6. One of your projects that you are most proud of: My partner and I are about to publish a Journal called The State of the Art about our work at the Chicago Architectural Club. For two years we fostered discussions, work and projects to advance (or at least try) the practice of our discipline in a complex city as is Chicago.
7. A recent example of successful urban regeneration: Portland.
8. An example of failed urban regeneration: I consider the Boston Big Dig as a failed opportunity.
9. An urban planner or other professional whose work you admire, and why: He’s not an urban planner, but Win Wenders portrays the city like no one else, to see it the way he does implies, for me, a way of understanding it. The work of ELEMENTAL S.A. because they use about subsidized housing as a way to address bigger issues specifically related to Latinamerican cities. A recent discovery for me is Fritz Malcher and his urbanism of traffic, an investigation cut short by his premature death. I couldn’t pick just one…
10. A piece of advice for the future generation of urban planners: I’m not one for giving advice… but we could all be a little bit less technical and a little bit more curious.