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Penn State BArch Program, Fourth Year: Rome Studio Urban Design (12 weeks)

Status: completed

with Laura DeLuca

The Tiber River, once an essential urban component in Rome’s urban fabric, has become a disconnected entity that exists almost entirely independent of the city. This proposal implements three stages of abstraction, where an element of the existing site condition is abstracted & therefore becomes an entirely new element. These formal and programmatic abstractions produce an unfamiliar installation that provides Romans with a clean slate for personal re-interpretations of the Tiber in vignettes that it frames.

In order to provide a new relationship with the Tiber to Romans, we used the idea of abstraction of existing elements on the site and in the city to extend the language of the city into a project that could frame views within the city. We implemented three stages of abstraction:

Abstraction via Repetition
isolating a piece of the floodwalls and repeating it across the river highlights the immense scale of the walls, but by allowing pedestrians to break through walls and travel within them, Romans may understand them less as obstructions of views and paths and more as guides along a path

Abstraction via Explosion
the city of Rome consists of a variety of architectural typologies that seem to lack order; by taking our required program of a museum & water research center and scattering these "boxes" within our system of walls, we are mimicking this chaotic quality while providing a regulating structure that seems to provide the chaos with a rhythm

Abstraction via Distortion
connecting the central axis of the Palazzo Farnese with the Villa Farnesina across the Tiber River was proposed by Michelangelo almost 400 years ago; however, since his proposal, bridges have been built around the site and large roads have been built, further disconnecting these two points in the city as well as changing their relationship with the Tiber. The proposed garden path would connect the Villa and Palazzo at the level of the city but also on the level of the river walks below, winding around and within our project to frame new views of the city and culminating in an elevated piazza in the center of the project.

The result of this proposal would ideally be new perceptions of the Tiber River and its urban context, achieved through the framing of vignettes of the city from permeations in the repeated walls, the selected openings within the museum and water research center, and the meandering garden paths that position pedestrians in new ways.