Public urban spaces are at the heart of a city’s architecture. In an effort to fully understand what makes them valuable and unique, Sophie Wolfrum’s SQUARES: Urban Spaces in Europe explores the architecture of 70 European cities including Barcelona, Berlin, Florence, London, Munich, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Warsaw. The designs of the squares in these historic cities are frequently discussed among architects and city planners, and SQUARES serves as a one-stop reference for analyzing and comparing these and other metropolitan spaces.
The text, funded in part by a Vectorworks Academic Research Grant, is one of the only reference works of its kind. Each of the 70 locations presented methodically in site plan, ground plan, sections, and axonometric views uses drawings created in Vectorworks software. In each set of drawings, Wolfrum explores shape, position, and the size of structures in the urban spaces. Her research approaches each square from a design standpoint and contextualizes her findings in terms of that space’s political and historical impact, as well as how the materials used contribute to each city’s distinctive character. SQUARES is therefore a comprehensive, comparative work on urban typologies, providing a unique tool for architects, open space planners, and design students.
A professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Technical University Munich, Wolfrum says her work fills a void in the knowledge of urban planners in the Google Maps era. “Drawings offer a different approach to the architecture of a square than an aerial photo,” Wolfrum explains. “Both as abstractions and as interpretations, the different modes of drawing provide differentiated information; at the same time, they invite one to think for oneself. The act of drawing itself is the best training for a designer—but the reading of the drawings encourages the active reenactment of the architectonic structure.”
Vectorworks Academic Research Grants are awarded to projects that encourage, preserve, and communicate the best approaches to facing global design issues. If you’re working on a project that positively impacts a community, please apply. And if you’re looking for an example of what you can do with a grant, Wolfrum’s book is available for purchase from the Amazon marketplace.