Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The British Centre, Rome

Project introduction

This project is about the shifting, malleable concept of national identity and whether it needs to be re-harnessed for changing economic directions. The premise of this research questions the control and production of the perception of a nation, and goes on to investigate tourism as a process which works symbiotically with concepts of national identity whilst employing both cultural and economic systems on an equal level.
The project is based in Rome and the site lies in a prominent position between the Trevi fountain and the Galleria Piazza Colonna. This imposing context is used to explore the contrasts between internal and external presence, and the possibilities for dissolving these transitions both in plan and section. The collaboration of the 3 British entities in Rome; The British School, the British Council and the British Embassy creates the opportunity for consolidating the presence of British creativity and cultural production in the foreign territory. The building becomes a singular stage for events and interactions with the overt intention of promoting the evolving British knowledge economy facilitated by diplomatic administration.
The project investigates notions of a foreign national image and culture through materiality and the transformation of urban space with performance and spectacle by studying the dynamics and rituals of the Italian piazza. By employing methods gathered from the creation of retail typologies and mechanics and also the World Expositions as their intent evolved from industrial to cultural exchange, the British Centre seeks capitalise on Rome's intense flow of tourists by exporting and curating the products of the creative industry.

a composite of Nolli's map and an updated civic map

Pete McMahon.

For more information please see my MArch blog at

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