Sunday, 28 December 2008

drawings of rome

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Trevi Re-formatted

Collective Memory

A Map representing the distribution of Flickr photographs taken of the top 10 British Holiday destinations.

Trevi Removed

A study of the Trevi Fountain and its role as one of the main tourist spectacles in the city of Rome. By removing it from the piazza it redefines it as a cultural icon, rather than a consumerist object. The famous view becomes occasional as it is only seen through a peep-hole in the surrounding wall. The wall is lined with mirrors to create an infinite unpopulated view of the spectacle which re-values the millions of toursit photographs from before, and historicises them as experiences, rather than mindless captures.

studio one suffer illness at EUR!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Google Earth

Google have just announced a new resource that is available through Google Earth - a virtual ancient Rome!

Google have worked in conjunction with Virginia University, who's researchers have also developed the Waters of the City of Rome interactive website.

A BBC news item on the project is available here.

The Google Earth ancient Rome page is here.

(Update... it does work!  You have to click on one of the ancient Rome icons and then download the different layers, starting with 'terrain'.  The terrain layer loads quickly, but the others take ages!)

Viginia University's Rome Reborn site is here. (with less cartoony imagery than Google!)

Studio One shared folder

Further to Martin's email about the transfer of archstud folders to a new server, I have set up a Studio One folder on the new archstud server (the old archstud has been renamed archstud 2 and is now only available as back-up).

The folder is on Magna (appropriately the only tourist attraction of the servers!) and is called 'Studio 1 08-09'.

I have uploaded the Nolli map and 1812 map of the environs of Rome, together with a number of other diagrammatic maps, film posters etc.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Bella Roma!!!!

Travel Guides:

Audio Guide:,,1731426,00.html

...And if anyone fancies winning another trip to Venice...

A competition which may interest the Studio 1 crew...

ImagineConey is an initiative of the Municipal Art Society of New York to create new ideas for the future of Coney Island to restore the area to its former position as a great entertainment and amusement area - "the world's playground".

MAS is inviting submissions for ideas for events and festivals, new amusement rides, the design of new structures and for interim activities for Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY, USA. These should convey in words or graphics your ideas for the future of Coney Island.

The submissions will be displayed on and at an exhibit at the MAS that will open in January 2009. Final deadline for submissions is December 15th.

Visit for more info!

Useful Links:

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Initial meeting

Can we all meet on Monday 10. November at 12 in the studio?

Proposed agenda:

- confirm travel arrangements
- initial reading
- dates/times for film screenings
- research and base materials needed before trip
- things we intend to do in Rome
- things we need to take

(feel free to add anything I've missed)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A plan...

Imagine producing an architectural plan measuring 18 metres wide by 13 metres high (the equivalent of 470 A1 sheets).

Imagine drawing it at a scale of 1:240, so that it can represent a city area of 4.3 kilometres by 3.1 kilometres (1,350 ha), yet be detailed enough to show all the internal walls of every building.

Imagine it drawn, not on paper, but painstakingly inscribed by hand onto 150 slabs of the finest marble, to form a durable architectural survey weighing some 80-100 tonnes.

An ambitious undertaking?  A folly?  A fiction perhaps?

Such a plan was actually undertaken 1,800 years ago in Rome, during the reign of Severus.  It was mounted on an interior wall in the Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace) adjacent to the Imperial Forum.  Today, the plan is known as the Forma Urbis Romae, or the Severan Marble Plan.

This unique and remarkable object soon became neglected and eventually desecrated as the ancient Roman city fell, with the valuable marble slabs being reused for other building projects and even being burnt to make lime.  What survived in-situ was quickly lost, becoming buried with other rubble at the foot of the wall.

It remained lost until 1562, when fragments were first excavated, arousing great excitement among antiquarians.  This excitement was short lived however, and many of these pieces were again lost when they were reused a few years after during the construction of a garden for the Farnese family.  Scholarly interest in the plan was only revived some 80 years later, when a project was undertaken to reassemble the existant fragments by  Pietro Forrier, the curator of the Capitoline Museum, and his assistant Giovanni Battista Nolli (just six years before producing his own plan of the city).

Since this time further fragments have come to light sporadically in many different locations.  Sometimes single pieces are unearthed, occasionally larger quantities have been found, including a cache of 451 of those that had been used in the Farnese project.  The most recent piece was discovered during the construction of an underground passage in 2001.

Today, there are a total of 1,186 known fragments that have been recovered, representing about 10-15% of the original plan.  They are inaccessible to the public, except for very occasional temporary exhibitions of a few selected fragments, and are stored in crates at the Museum of Roman Civilisation at EUR.  A digital project currently being undertaken by Stanford University aims to comprehensively record all of the fragments and to make the plan widely accessible for the first time.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Three projects are proposed in the first few weeks of the studio:

1. Piazza Interrotta (micro-Nolli, or 'Nolli to go')
This project focuses on the historic centre of the city.  It takes the Nolli plan, that was the starting point for the Roma Interrotta project, and cuts it up into smaller, 'piazza sized' pieces.  Each person in the studio will be randomly assigned a different fragment and make studies of that specific place and then propose a specific intervention within it.  The first part of this project will be undertaken while we are in Rome.  It will be further developed on our return to Sheffield.

2. Diary of details
This is an on-going observation dairy, in sketch book (or possibly blog) format.  The intention is to explore detailing and design through the study of a specific Italian/Roman theme.  Potential topics could include any of the following, but you are free to pick any subject that interests you.

- coffee machines
- scooters
- cafe/bar counters/fittings
- street furniture
- fountains
- market stalls/canopies
- insertions into ruins
- film posters/hoardings

3. A new Rome in a week (100ha per day)
This short, broad brush project focuses on large-scale interventions on the periphery of Rome.  Drawing on the diverse range of large urban elements that already exist on the edge of the city, this project will explore alternative ideas for new urban interventions at a similar scale (500ha) to the recently proposed theme park.

Big things on the edge

A provisional list (to be elaborated):

- The Vatican, 44 ha, population ~800, 1377
- Villa Adriana, 80+ ha, 117AD
- Cinecitta', 40 ha, 1937
- EUR, ? ha, 1938
- Ostia, ? ha, population  50-75,000, 3rd century BC to 2nd century AD
- Bagni di Tivoli

The intention is to visit a number of these during our visit.  They offer diverse precedents for the 'New Rome in a week' project.

The trip

The suggested window for the field trip is between Sunday 16. November and Wednesday 26. November.  Ideally, it would be good to be in Rome on a Sunday (just to hear all the church bells and get the full experience!).  I'm open to suggestions as to which dates we go within this window and for how long.

Ryanair currently has daily flights from East Midlands to Rome Ciampino.  Typically a return fare is around £30 - 40, including taxes.  There may be other cheap deals offered by other airlines.  A short train or bus ride takes you from Ciampino into the centre.

Hotels are generally expensive in Rome but there are some cheap hostels.  One that seems worth checking out is The Yellow, which is a short distance from the main train station.  Daily rates are about €14 per person for a six bed dorm, or €18 for a four bed dorm.

(A euro is currently about 77p)

A lot of other hostels are listed at, but I haven't had time to check through this.  Lonely Planet also has quite comprehensive online accommodation listings for Rome.

Within the historic centre, the cheapest hotel option that I've found is about €30 per person in a four bed room, but this could save on time and late night taxis!

A subway map of Rome can be downloaded here.

Roma Interrotta

"It is easier to design the cities of the future than those of the past.  Rome is an interrupted city because it has stopped being imagined and begun to be (poorly) planned.  In Rome the issue is more about time than about space.  The tides of centuries have passed and left behind on the sand the relics of remote shipwrecks; and, like all relics they are surrounded by an immediate and boundless space, the sea and the beach.  It is a city that was initially inhabited by remains, then by ruins, and today, by rubbish...

...fortunately Rome has never been afraid of a shambles.  It is a city of Providence, and Providence patches up shambles.  The beauty of Rome exists in its being a messed-up city patched up a countless number of times.  Could we pretend that Providence was followed by utopia, a mother and daughter detesting each other? Utopia has never set foot in Rome, much less so than in Las Vegas."

Guilio Carlo Argan (1978)

The original 'Roma Interrotta' competition was held in 1978 and was a key event in the development of post-modernism and Italian rationalism.  Twelve international architects were each given one section of Nolli's map and asked to re-imagine Rome.  The presumption was that time had been suspended since the drawing of the map and that history had been interrotta (interrupted).  The architects were:

I Piero Sartogo
II Constantino Dardi
III Antoine Grumbach
IV James Stirling
V Paulo Portoghesi
VI Romaldo Giurgola
VII Venturi and Rauch
VIII  Colin Rowe
IX Michael Graves
X Rob Krier
XI Aldo Rossi
XII Leon Krier

The schemes varied widely in attitude, from the plausible urban collage of Colin Rowe, to the pop kitsch of Venturi and the despair of Leon Krier.  The competition and all twelve entries are examined in detail in Architectural Design, Profile 20, No.3-4 1979, which was guest edited by Michael Graves.

Thirty years on, the 1978 exhibition has been revived and is currently showing as part of the Venice Biennale, alongside a new exhibition which also explores the urban plan of Rome.  Curated by Aaron Betsky, 'Uneternal City' asks twelve new architects to re-imagine the city of Rome, focusing on peripheral areas, rather than the 'eternal' centre.  The architects are:

1. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Copenhagen
2. Centrola and  Associates, Rome
3. Clark Stevens, California
4. Delogu Associati, Rome
5. Giametta and Giametta, Rome
6. Koning and Eizenberg, California
7. Labics, Rome
8. MAD, Beijing/Tokyo
9. n!studio, Rome
10. Nemesi, Rome
11. t-studio, Rome
12. West 8, Rotterdam

Monday, 13 October 2008

Incomplete notes on recent mayors

Giulio Carlo Argan (mayor 1976 – 1979)

Argan was the first communist mayor of Rome.  He was an eminent art historian as well as a politician.  Many of his writings deal with architectural topics and it was Argan that proposed the ‘Roma Interrotta’ competition of 1978 to explore imaginative new propositions for the city.  Argan’s books range across the following subjects:

1955 - Pier Luigi Nervi

1957 - Botticelli

1962 - Gropius/Bauhaus

1969 - The Renaissance City

1977 - Henry Moore

1983 - History of Art and the History of the City

1984 - The Baroque

1990 - Michelangelo


Francesco Rutelli (mayor 1993 - 2001)

Originally a surrealist artist, Rutelli had an early political background with radical, libertarian leanings.  He became a campaigner for green/environmental policies in the late 80’s.  By the time he became mayor of Rome, he was part of the centre left.  In the national elections of 2001, he unsuccessfully led the ‘Olive Tree’ coalition against Berlusconi.  In 2006, he became  Prodi’s Deputy, serving also as Minister for Welfare and Culture.  Following Prodi’s defeat against Berlesconi in January 2008, he turned his sights back to Rome and stood unsuccessfully for mayor against Alemanno.


Walter Veltroni (mayor 2001 - Feb. 2008)

Veltroni, of the centre-left Democratic Party, served two successive terms as mayor.  He has a long involvement in Rome’s politics, having been first elected as a city councillor for the Italian Communist Party in 1976.  His cultural initiatives as mayor included free jazz concerts, free museum openings and the White Nights festival.  He was also one of Barack Obama’s earliest supporters in Europe.  He stepped down as mayor in order to pursue politics at a national level, becoming leader of the Democratic Party.


Gianni Alemanno (mayor since April 2008)

Alemanno is a member of the National Alliance/People of Freedom.  He is a controversial right wing politician, connected with neo-fascism and xenophobia, but also a champion of the ‘slow food’ movement.  In addition to a campaign to expel migrants, he has reversed many of Veltroni’s initiatives, including the White Nights.  One of his many controversial cultural pronouncements since becoming mayor has been to propose a referendum to decide whether Richard Meier’s recently completed museum for the Ara Pacis should be demolished.  He has also proposed to ban Hollywood actors from attending the Rome Film Festival.  It is his deputy, Mario Cutrufo, who has announced the EuroDisney inspired theme park.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Someone has been there before...

Thin Cities 4

"The city of Sophronia is made up of two half cities. In one there is the great roller-coaster with its steep humps, the carousel with its chain spokes, the Ferris wheel of spinning cages, the death-ride with crouching motorcyclists, the big top with the clump of trapezes hanging in the middle.  The other half-city is of stone and marble and cement, with the bank, the factories, the palaces, the slaughterhouse, the school, and all the rest.  One of the half-cities is permanent, the other is temporary, and when the period of its sojourn is over, they uproot it, dismantle it, and take it off, transplanting it to the vacant lots of another half-city.

And so every year the day comes when the workmen remove the marble pediments, lower the stone walls, the cement pylons, take down the Ministry, the monument, the docks, the petroleum refinery, the hospital, load them onto trailers, to follow from stand to stand their annual itinerary.  Here remains the half-Sophronia of the shooting-galleries and the carousels, the shout suspended from the cart of the headlong roller-coaster, and it begins to count the months, and days it must wait before the caravan returns and a complete life can begin again."

Italo Calvino (1972) Invisible Cities

Monday, 6 October 2008


Michael Hughes - a souvenir set on flickr...

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Nolli plan of Rome, 1748

Nolli's plan can be explored in detail on the interactive website developed by the University of Oregon.


Studio: Rome – Travel, Authenticity and the Past.

‘If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels.  They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival.  Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems…’ Alain De Botton

Rome – the Eternal City – could be described as iconic in many ways.  It is one of the cradles of early urban civilisation; the axis mundi of the ancient Roman empire; the court of the Popes; a centre for Christian pilgrimage; an archaeological touchstone for generations of artists and architects; a must-see for contemporary tourists.  It has been repeatedly sacked and laid waste, only to be re-built anew.  Its urban form has been re-invented many times over: by Emperors such as Trajan, Diocletian and Hadrian; by Popes such as Paul III and Sixtus V; and in more recent times by Mussolini.  The result is a densely worked city of many superimposed and often conflicting layers.

Rome may be considered the urban laboratory par excellence.  Travel and tourism of one form or another, have always been inextricably linked to its history.

In August 2008, the current deputy mayor of Rome, Mauro Cutrufo, announced a new initiative for a 500 hectare theme park to be built on the outskirts of the city, which could be completed within three years:

‘…what the Eternal City really needs to keep visitors coming is not museums, but fun rides. "The model is EuroDisney in Paris," said Mauro Cutrufo… If Cutrufo gets his way, anyone bored of touring actual remains of republican and imperial Rome can head to the suburbs to see the same thing in fibreglass. "You would relive scenes from the Colosseum, from ancient Rome, gladiators or maybe Julius Caesar or other things," a Rome city official said…’ Guardian, 15 August 2008.

This proposal is the starting point for Studio One’s investigations this year.  The aim is to explore architecture’s role in the relationship that we create with the past.  We will consider issues of: tourism/travel, heritage, museums, theme parks, pastiche/authenticity, and ‘destination architecture’. The intention is to begin to propose projects and specific architectural interventions that develop an appropriate empathy and respect of the past and yet which can still be contemporary, enjoyable and uplifting. The precise definition of these terms is of course open for you each to determine yourselves.

From an environmental and technological perspective, the studio will consider issues of: the joining of new and old; sustainability and re-use; the autonomy of form; and the environmental lessons that can be learned from traditional indigenous buildings and urban form.

Source material


Julian Barnes (1998) England, England, Cape

Alain de Botton (2002) The Art of Travel, Penguin

Sebastiano Brandolini (2008) Rome: New Architecture, Skira

Emily Braun (ed.) (1989) Italian Art in the 20th Century, Prestel

Italo Calvino (1972) Invisible Cities, trans. William Weaver, Picador, 1974

Eamonn Canniffe (2008) The Politics of the Piazza, Ashgate

Michael Graves (ed.) (1979) Roma Interrotta, Architectural Design Profile 20, Vol. 49, No. 3-4 1979

Stefan Grundmann (1998) The Architecture of Rome: an Architectural History in 402 Individual Presentations, Alex Menges

J.K. Huysmans (1884) Against Nature, trans. by Robert Baldick, Penguin (also partial ebook on Project Gutenberg)

Sandra R. Joshel et al (eds.) (2001) Imperial Projections: Ancient Rome in Modern Popular Culture, Arethusa

Tom Kingston (2008) Rome to Offer Disney Style Ruins, in The Guardian, 15. August 2008

Adolf Loos (1910) Architecture, (trans W. Wang), in Y. Safran and W. Wang, The Architecture of Adolf Loos, Arts Council Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1985

David Lowenthal (1985) The Past is a Foreign Country, Cambridge

Aldo Rossi (1966) The Architecture of the City, introduction by Peter Eisenman, trans. of L'Architettura della Citta, by D. Ghirardo and J. Ockman, Oppositions Books, MIT Press, 1982

Joseph Rykwert (2000) The Seduction of Place: The City in the Twenty First Century and Beyond, Weidenfeld and Nicolson

Michael Sorkin (1992) Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, Hill and Wang

Marguerite Yourcenar (1951) Memoirs of Hadrian, trans. by G. Frick, Penguin


Notes toward a studio

Studio: Architecture, travel and the past.


de Botton - The Art of Travel
Huysmans - Against Nature
Lowenthal - The Past is a Foreign Country
Theme park/Disneyland
Rome - current mayor
Architect as outsider
Adolf Loos
The grand tour
Piranesi/Roma Interrotta (also current 30th anniversary exhibition)
Julian Barnes - England, England (Isle of Wight as theme park)
Open University - Heritage podcasts
Cullinan/English Heritage - ongoing saga of Stonehenge

Barcelona - a city that has reinvented itself without anxiety about losing its identity or about destroying its past.

Rome as the urban laboratory par excellence

Check library for Nolli plan - site?
Interactive Nolli map - Oregon
Legionnaires outside Colosseum

Imperial Projections - Ancient Rome in Modern Popular Culture

EUR / Cinecittà

Greenaway - Belly of an Architect
Fellini's Roma
Fellini - La Dolce Vita
Neo-realist cinema - Rome: Open City, Bicycle Thieves

Gonzales - The Tourist
Fila B. - At home in space

Eamonn - Politics of the Piazza
Dan Wrightson?
Selina - Hadrian's villa as an embodiment of his travels (Yourcenar)
Jane - Venice / the virtual tourist
Dan Cruickshank - December visit?

New v. Old
Sustainability and re-use
Autonomy of form
Environmental response in trad. buildings and urban form

Initial thoughts

Inspiration from a newspaper article and a book...

The Guardian, 15. August 2008, reports on a proposal for a theme park for/of Rome.

Summer holiday reading - Alain de Botton (2002) The Art of Travel

...sitting in a shady garden, at an olive green polyethylene garden table with a fake mosaic print top.