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Type: Individual Academic Work

Project: Multifunction Ecology Sky Farm

Location: Florence, Italy

Date: Feb. 2014

Florence is one of the most classical historical cities in Europe. The urban design was preserved from the age of the ancient Roman, 95% of the architecture retains the Renaissance style perfectly. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the absolute center of Florence for it historical status, artistic attainments, the height and the volume. “Vertical Versatility” is an ambitious concept rooted in the context of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and historical site in Florence. It was intended to “challenge” the center position of the Cathedral, especially in height, and “breakthrough” the monopoly of the Renaissance architecture in Florence.

“Vertical Versatility” on the appearance almost reached the height of the Cathedral. However, it was not designed for conflicting the time and space of eternity of the cathedral in structure and material deliberately. Essentially, it is a temporary structure with very lightweight, and easy install and dismantles process. A relatively short life cycle modern material with high reflectivity metal panel was selected for its exterior, which has a strong contrast compared to traditional brick and tile material in Florence. However, by reflecting the surroundings, it can hide like a mirage in the environment.

This proposal is an audacious experiment of the feasibility of postmodernist style design in a historical city. By exploring the meaning of eternity and timeliness in architecture, discussing the contradictory and sublet complex of the freedom to understand the real qualities of great architecture. The essence behind the ambition is not only a tribute to Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Renaissance civilization but also respect to the cultural and historical architecture and the sincere love for this ancient city.


Because of the unique planning and protection of the historic urban areas, there is almost no possibility of constructing high-rise buildings by using traditional construction site. Therefore, a new construction process was proposed. “Vertical Versatility” begin by building the core and assembling the first stage in the meantime. The moment the cores get to the predetermined height, the first stage finish with furniture and mechanical equipment, and it will be lifted to the corresponding height and complete the installation. By simulating the process of constructing giant A380 hangar, “Vertical Versatility” will have incredible efficiency in construction time and cost.

Functionally, “Vertical Versatility” is aiming to create a public space with the market, vertical farm, gastronomy school and restaurants, to replace the single function market on the original site. People not only can experience different functionality, practice and interaction with each other to enhance the exchange of relationships, but also have a deep understanding of Italian agricultural culture and traditional food culture.


By flipping the original form of the existing market, the market stage of “Vertical Versatility” has an inverted pyramid-shaped reflected bottom. People on the ground in different locations and angles can observe the reflection of the important historic buildings of Florence. It provides people a whole new perspective of the city, and establish an indigenous connection with several historic buildings. It also can be considered as an opposing, upside down dome from The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. 

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