The Soul in Architecture

A plaza opened before us on our way to the Academia museum in Venice.

I read an article last year about what architecture means to some well-known practitioners in the industry, and it made me reflect what drew me to my current situation with an interior architecture firm.  I wondered why I hadn’t pursued design in the first place, what took me off track.  When I was 11 and I had my own room, I decided to be creative with some corrugated cardboard and reclaimed toy pieces to create tables.  But it felt more like a passing fancy.  As I got older, a new passion took over and held my interest to this day. Maybe discovering and articulating the soul in architecture is the purpose of being here, while working on the financial and legal side.


It is said architecture is an expression of one’s world view.  It speaks to me none more so than in the confluence of cultures in restored Venetian building facades, and Venice’s plazas, San Marco being the ultimate manifestation of the public “living room” in an increasingly socially isolated world. Its cozy alleys that smack of claustrophobia, which if you let the discomfort pass, offer a level of intimacy that is rather personal, homey even. venetian-flag

Like the bustling under the windows of our pensionado during my 2008 trip there with my mom and sister, the pitter-patter of foot traffic was more a soothing murmur, not the profane cacophony of a major metropolis.  It was rather welcoming, the ambient sounds that would lull me into an eventual nap that afternoon.Serenissima room


photo by Rhodora Ayuyang


The Passeggiata

Wow Factor: The Colosseum notwithstanding, tour guide Francesca Caruso gives her passionate take of the Eternal City. (photo by Rhodora Ayuyang)

It wasn’t a coincidence that the local PBS station was showing a marathon of Rick Steves travelogues in Italy, with the election of a new pontiff in the Vatican.  So I was happy to see in his most recent program of Rome that he invited Francesca Caruso, a popular tour guide that I had the pleasure of meeting, to participate in its filming.  While on his tour in 2008, she made such a fantastic impression on me that I singled her out as one of my “wow” moments:  “She personalized so powerfully Roman history with her depth and knowledge of literature and architecture.  I can only hope I could enjoy la dolce vita the way Francesca clearly has doing a job she obviously loves.”

Via Margutta to Popolo

Getting Back on Track: The road to happiness is through Rome, among other places in the world.

Francesca accompanied Rick on the passeggiata in the Eternal City, which is described as an early evening stroll from Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps.  While sounding rather innocent and leisurely, Rick’s book in 2008 says, “in Rome, it’s a cruder big-city version called the struscio (‘to rub’),” in which young Italians cruise the Via del Corso sometimes obnoxiously in motorscooters and dispense with rather bold remarks (“buono”/”buona” or “tasty”) to passersby.

Whatever the case may be, traveling, like writing, is one of my favorite outlets, not a surprise to those who really know me.  Maintaining a balance in life is such a challenge that to have any opportunity to  get back  into my comfort zone is most welcome and, I would venture to say, mandatory.