To help us get an understanding of Siena, one of our first individual assignments was the Porta Analytique. The boundaries of Siena are defined rather strictly by the wall which extends around its full perimeter. During the Medieval period, these walls served as the first line of defense against intruders. Back then, the portas were heavily guarded as they were the only ways in and out of the city. Today, most of the original portas still exist and continue to function as the main passages into and out of the city.

For this assignment, I would be studying Porta Camollia. This porta is located in the far north portion of Siena. Unlike some of the other portas being studied, Porta Camollia is more of a continuation of the wall than an insertion. Despite the fact that no “interstitial space” is created by the porta, it has a surprisingly strong presence on the surrounding area. What fascinated me most about it was how different the two facades of that single plane were. Approaching from Via di Camollia, the porta appeared very heavy with dense masonry work and little ornamentation. But then, passing through to the other side, I was very surprised by what I found. The other side was much lighter, designed with ornamentation and detail. This contrast was a pleasant surprise which made my documentation of the porta much more interesting. Several details caught my eye during my study. For starters, the main visual connection I made between the two facades of Porta Camollia was the IHS Crest which had a prominant place on both sides. The I.H.S. Christian Emblem is an acronym of the Latin: Iesus Hominum Salvator which translates as Jesus, Saviour of man. Another detail which I noticed and decided to investigate was the inscription above the central arch on the outside of the porta. The arch bears the inscription “Cor Magis Tibi Siena Pandit”, which translates to  “Siena opens its heart to you wider than this gate”. The words were a tribute to Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. 


Inside and Outside Porta Camollia

 And so began my early documentation of Porta Camollia…


Facade Sketches Plan Sketches

Site Section Sketches


Once I felt that I had the appropriate analysis and background on Porta Camollia, I took my first shot at assembling an analytique composition. . .

Analytique Sample Layout

After completing this first attempt at a layout, there was one very obvious problem…that weird shape that resulted in the middle of the composition. Other than that, I felt that Porta Camollia was being represented from macro to micro. So the next step in this “iterative process” was doing a little bit of rearranging/repositioning so that I would not be left with that awkward middle space. I sketched out a few possible solutions and ideas before moving on to my final composition and watercolor version.

Analytique Trial Sketches

Since finding out that the final composition would be done in watercolor, I had this vision in my head for exactly what my technique would be. Just visualizing the Porta Camollia, i felt that it would be best represented in a sepia tone scheme. So without any prior experience with watercolors, I made this my goal. There are certain things I would change and I was not prepared for the amount of time and patience watercoloring takes, BUT I will say I enjoyed both the process and result of this assignment.

Final Analytique