Saturday, 18 October 2008

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

No comments: