Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running Up The Alps

So we started our first free weekend in awesome spirits, as in practically skipping. 
Ross, Will and I were going to Campodolcino for the World Mountain Running Championships. Campodolcino is a tiny town a little bit north of Chiavenna, Italy. Right in the Alps.
It's actually just east of Riva, but there's a string of Alps in the way, and so we had to go around.
It was the first time we were just let loose on Europe, no chaperones, outlined plans, and just a couple people. 
Ready, Set, Lunch, the Go.
That's right, we had to stay for lunch before leaving. I don't know if I've talked about the food here too in depth. It's amazing. 
So right after lunch, we packed our backpacks and hiked off to the train station (after a quick gelato stop-- but they didn't have the menta, so I refrained)
We jumped on a train to Como, which is just south of us. The ride down was pretty fun, the boys were pretty impressed (or disgusted, not sure which) at my ability to eat a whole chocolate bar in one sitting. 
We got to Como, and the plan 
was to take a ferry up to Bellagio and stay there for one night.
Plan accomplished.
 The Ferry was so nice, and if you ever have the choice between ferry, train, or bus, and the ferry is a little more expensive? It's worth it! The view was absolutely amazing. It was actually then that I realized, I forgot my camera!! Duh!
So any pictures you see from this post are Wills. I owe him all the photocredits. 
As you can see, I ate my lunch on the ferry, and it was pretty awesome. The weather was perfect, not too hot, but not cold either. Our ferry was a pretty nice one as well, with wooden benches, old fashioned tables, and a bar inside. It was gorgeous. 
The ferry ride was about 2 hours long, even
 though it felt more like 30 minutes. We stopped at a million little towns all up and down lake Como. Not that I'm complaining, the view was Gorgeous!

Somehow Will found a minute or two to catch a quick nap on the 
way to Bellagio. 
And since this post will span he whole trip (more than one day) you might see will napping more than once this post. Typical. 

As you can see the weather was awesome, and being in the sun made it even better. 

So we arrived in Bellagio, were greeted by this fabulous little statue (not quite sure what it sayd about Bellagio in general...maybe it's a 'city of love'?), and then we went straight to work. We had to find a hotel--this whole week was about winging it. 
I know it's a little crazy to go somewhere and not have anything booked or reserved, but this is Europe, right? that's what you do- just GO. 
That's exactly what we did. The boys and I got this tiny hotel room, passed out that night, and then got up in the morning. We explored that whole day and then left on the ferry again the next morning headed up to Chiavenna and Campodolcino. 
We got to Chiavenna pretty early and just explored the city. We hiked up to the Park Paradiso which had an old keep at the top and a great view (of course we stopped on the way up to split a bottle of wine, this IS Italy after all!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bike Ramp Proj (The Boring Stuff)

So before I jump into all of the fun stuff (cough!) I wanted to address some exciting logistics:
I've got a shutterfly site, because I know how tedious words can be sometimes (especially mine) I've added all of my pictures from my trips and such, and put them on a convenient site for you all to go comment, view and follow! 
The link is now permanently posted over to the right -----> 
Directly under the Entries catagory. It's entitled "Photographic Documentation" in keeping with the blog theme. So check it out- sign up to be a member and get weekly updates through email!

So the Program for our first project was to redesign a bike ramp used in the time trials of road cycling. The old ones are generally a flimsy ramp, some stairs, and a tailgating tent. Our redesign is centered around the world road cycling championships that are being held in Mendrisio, Switzerland (which happens to be the next town over). 
I'm not going to talk to much about the ideas behind the design or the mechanics of making it- I'll throw a couple of pictures up and move on with the blog!

This was my life for the last couple weeks:

Above is the view of the bike ramp from the side (elevation style). This is a picture of the model, which is not as photogenic as I would like it to be, but alas.

So as you approach the ramp, it wraps around you, creating space within the floor surface, and opening space in the roof as well. There are view points as the rider transitions through the ramp. 

There were a couple different iterations of the ramp, and the one shown in these couple pictures is actually an alternate iteration than the final one, which is pictured below (it's the one in black).
So to the left here
<--------- You can see the alternating roof that I was fooling with. This is only in the alternate model, the one that I presented has a more serious ramp surface and a more regular roof plane. You can check it out below.

It was a fun project to get back into the feeling of designing something, though because we're traveling around so often, my design work sometimes feels a little stinted. 
Our next project should go more in depth, so we shall see how I deal with Zero time in between traveling and studio. 

So the project is basically over, except for a final pin-up of models, drawings, animations and pictures. We're setting it up in the lobby tomorrow, and it should be interesting to see everyone's reactions to our work. 

Surprisingly enough, I learned a lot from this little exercise, and it feels good to get back into it.  A lot of what I learned was actually photoshop stuff.  

I did an animation too, but it's .gif file, and I have no clue how to get it on here, so until I figure it out (any tips?) you'll just have to imagine it!

Next up, I'm going to post about my free weekend! Some great shots, and all the craziness from Motte, Campodolcio, and Bellagio. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Touching on Bellinzona

First of all, let me say "Mi dispiace" 
I know I haven't been on in a long while, but it's because this has been two REALLY busy weeks (well, one week and two weekends!)
As you know, We were traveling to
Monte Tamaro to see Mario Botta's Santa Maria degli Angeli Chapel, which--for any of you archi-buffs, is a pretty cool place. And we saw it. In person.
This post is a little heavy on the pictures I know, but bear with me, and we'll get through it together. The next post is on my model/bike ramp projects (exciting...? eh.) So soak it up, it may be a while before I get to the post from Campodolcino that you all are looking forward to.

We took the funiculare up to the Chapel, and I would have liked to hike, but we had no time--we had a lunch date in Bellinzona at 12.
Below right is the view of the Chapel as we approached it. You can see the gears of the funicular in the top of the picture.  
It was an awesome ride up the mountain, and I was definitely freaking out over some sweet alpine views. 
The chapel was absolutely gorgeous, and the views were awesome. Botta is not my favorite architect by any standard, even if he's the trademark architect of the Ticino, but this was really nicely done, and my pictures do not do it justice.
Will even took a nap at the chapel!(It was too beautiful to resist a little mid-morning snooze.)
 In fact, according to will it was just too Bottastic. Which is our new phrase for anything Botta-like in the Ticino. We get to use our lame architectural humor a lot over here, with all 16 of us studying here.

So we began the trip to Bellanzona, on our Mercedes tour bus. (which apparently is pretty common around here.)
We got to Bellinzona in time to wander through the market on the way to the Castelgrande, where we were having lunch. (Hell yes, we had lunch in a CASTLE!!)

Will almost got this sweet backpack, and I picked up a little something for Bleighton that I found at a craftsman's booth. The Market is fun, even though everyone pretty much spoke English, so I didn't have to try out too many of my new Italian skills. Which is probably a good thing, considering my skills are a little questionable...

The Castelgrande was pretty awesome, the interior and entrance was done by Galfetti, who is something of a local favorite, and is also (in my opinion) a thousand times better than Botta, just way more under-recognized.

After lunch, which was spectacular and included Polenta-- a local dish which tastes like a better version of grits and is made of corn, we hiked up to the other two castles in Bellinzona (there are three)
 The first one one the right is Castelgrande but is actually taken from the second castle. The hike was fast, because we basically power walked it. We only had a couple minutes to get up to all three castles (as in 30 minutes for a two-hour hike). I can't tell you how much my glutes and calves hurt the next day, I can only tell you that we did the hike in about 1 hour. It was intense... intensely fun!
(lame, I know-- again, you all most likely know me, and in turn my sense of humor, so no apologies here)

The second castle, Montebello is pictured below, and this picture was taken from Sasso Corbaro which is really more of a walled keep, but is also ridiculously cool. I don't have any good pictures of Sasso Corbaro, so I just opted to leave it off. So here are a couple views from each, and you can tell they're pretty far away (a hefty hike).

I'll leave you with a picture of Alice and I at the top of Sasso Corbaro on the ramparts!