As I have been walking around the town I have realized that one of the most beautiful parts of Riva is something that most people take for granted in the United States: doors and windows. Not only are the doors still very traditional, each door is unique and brings character to the winding streets. Bright greens, dark woods, and turquoise blues punctuate the plaster walls and no two doors are the same.
Traveling to Switzerland, I didn’t think twice about having an air conditioned bedroom and classroom. I guess the fact that the villa is over 400 years old slipped my mind. However, the Villa Maderni doesn’t need air conditioning; all it takes is a couple of open windows and the air rushes through the room. Something surprising to most Americans would be that there aren’t any screens on the windows at the Villa or on any other buildings in Switzerland. Not only is this sustainable from an energy consumption perspective, but not having a screen also has a freeing effect. I have clear views of the mountains and the baptistery right outside my window. This openness brings the outside in while we’re in class and lets us look into the daily life of Riva San Vitale every day. Just yesterday, while I was opening the shutters, the UPS man said “Buongiorno” to me. I believe that the small village of Riva has a close-knit community because they are always connected to the streets through their windows.
Even though we aren’t talking about community design or architecture during the first module of this course, there are definitely parallels to the Sustainability and Globalization concepts we are learning. The windows and doors of Riva allow the residents to both be individuals and members of a larger community. The windows are always open so they can see what is going on in the streets. This is similar to how the world has been interconnected by technology over the past decades, creating windows looking out to the whole world. This allows countries to not only share and exchange ideas, it has also allowed for more capital and labor mobility. As globalization makes the world smaller and smaller, there is more collaboration and effort to push sustainable practices. However, one policy cannot be conceived for every country. Instead, there must be unique policies, or doors, which fit the needs of each nation. They will all serve the same function, but they will be different shapes and sizes. We need to use globalization as the window to the common goal of sustainability and the unique policies of each nation as the doors to the common goal.
Author: Kaity Badlato, Undergraduate, Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Virginia.