1. General considerations and urban setting
The central archaeological area of Rome, the widest in the world, is undoubtedly a constant destination of visits with a steadily increasing influx; a vast open-air museum that, thanks to the size and the tourist flows is set up as a real theme park, set in the center of a metropolis which is called daily to live with the tourism industry, in the absence of a concrete planning measures.
The project starts from a city-wide study, which goes beyond the boundaries of the axis of Via dei Fori Imperiali, with the intent to facilitate the reconnection of the entire central archaeological area of the city, which outlines the potential not only as great museum area, but also as part of the territory of the city and its inhabitants.
The conversion of this vast area in a diffused Museums, in fact, could be an opportunity to rethink and reorganize relations with the urban tissue of the city of Rome, whose portion adjacent to the archaeological site is now overlapping flows of visitors and daily life, urban traffic and tourist walking trails, archaeological monuments and private residences, in the absence of an organization of tourist and functions and without a real integration with the urban ones.
The project proposal foresees the elaboration of a possible MASTERPLAN of the entire central area, where the territory of this vast part of the city is reorganized systematizing touristic and urban functions, in order to achieve an overall plan for urban development, without which the action of valorization and exploitation would risk impoverishment and produce limited effects.
Logistics and the spatiality of sightseeing flows are organized according to different design themes:
• Access doors, interchange from private to public transport: in these areas is expected the arrival of the buses and disembarkation of tourists, that, from here, will be able to continue their journey along the pedestrian path or by using the system of municipal dedicated ecological lines or the urban public transport system. In each of these areas are provided centralized services adapted to the large number of tourists: bookshop, cafes, restaurants, centralized ticketing for hotels and museums, rooms for first information and educational-scientific simulations, small theaters and more.
• The pedestrian routes for the tourist flows, able to ensure a direct link between the access doors and entrances to the archaeological center and the main monuments without interfere with the urban traffic. These paths will be configured as an autonomous specific layer within the city, capable of ensuring conditions of non-interference with the urban traffic and characterized by the widespread presence of minimal and basic services support to tourist flows.
• The interchange knots of tourist flows. There will be interchanges between the viability of rail, road, river transport, cycling and pedestrian, including the re-functioning of the existing infrastructure.
• The access and services to the areas of the visit, which will be reorganized in order to reconnect with the main urban routes reconsidering the separation between town and archaeological site. In particular there are three main approaches: the access to the Roman Forum / Palatine, located at the Antiquarium and connected to the Palatine; the access via dei Cerchi / route of St. Theodore with a link to the area of the Lungaretta; the access from via dei Fori Imperiali and its new service center. It also provided a service center / ticketing for the Colosseum.
• The internal paths to the area (differentiated by theme and available time) for the visit, both for the most emblematic monuments and minors, or currently closed to the public, monuments.
• The restoration program, scheduled maintenance and enhancement, strictly related to the itineraries and use of the area.
Through the reorganization of the system of access to the archaeological site and in general of tourist flows, the project tries to implement a sustainable strategy and integration with the existing urban routes system. This strategy is to stray from the most central areas of the most impactful means of transport as coaches, creating interchange areas where tourists are encouraged to walk to the archaeological site, or to use sustainable means such as cycling or dedicated ecological lines. These areas will also be integrated with the urban public transport system.
The redefinition of the physical relationship between the city and the new Urban Archaeological Museum is meant through the reorganization of the relationship between public spaces of the city and the museum with targeted interventions to reconnect and urban regeneration.
The project aims to combine the adjustment needs, not only in the infrastructures, of the city to the standards of the contemporary metropolis and to the methods used for the preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage. Those are potential resources for the new edification, according to a different sensitivity from past, which considers archeology as a basic element for the construction of the new city, canceling the long-standing dichotomy that has often caused the irreparable destruction of the historical evidence, in favor of a purely technological development, or that compromised the enjoyment of the archaeological areas because of the lack of the services needed.
The use of the cultural heritage, just after the essential protection of it, is the most important goal to achieve, to give the ruins meaning and, above all, a defined role within the urban tissue, to free them from the aphasia of the past. The project is therefore the instrument that will allow us to re-read the sense of the archeology rebuilding, at the same time, a meaning now interrupted and fragmented along large portions of the city. At the same time it will be the instrument through which the "narration" of history can be offered to the tourists of the whole Museum area.
2. Architectural and landscaping project
Via dei Fori Imperiali (stratification). As mentioned, without prejudice to the urban value of this track, lets say that you reconsider that piece of the city in terms of the section and sizing for layering layers of a new urban landscape that can hold together the three carriers that are summed up: the drive over service, the cycle-pedestrian zones and green.
Redesigning their presences and/or interferences should provide a clearer bias of the activities that they represent (the flow of vehicular traffic, the flow of bicycle and pedestrian traffic, to stop and to look down on the “footprint”, the matrix identity of Imperial Rome constituted by the Forums).
The Hadrian’s Auditoria (flows and archaeological milestones). Piazza Venezia is increasingly configuring itself as a place of intersection between city/archeology/metro/tram. A real hub of material and symbolic exchange. The main goal is to establish the priority of foot traffic over the drive one, representing a necessary connection between the flows and the infrastructure of public transport. The remains of the Auditoria and their eventual tour route, lowered from today's city level, could be placed back into the circuit of the daily crossing spaces, collimating the level of the subway exits and the archaeological floor. This intervention is connected to the one for the conservation of the old masonry structures, both at a structural level (with washing and injections of the consolidating mortar restoration in correspondence of the more severe injuries in the masonry), and for the recovery of the curtain wall (with use of non-cement mortar of lime and pozzolan and, where necessary for the stability of the structure, handmade bricks, compatible with the existing masonry).
Largo Corrado Ricci (overlapping). This unresolved space could become a knot that holds together the contemporary city with the archaeological landscape, which is part of the extensive archaeological complex. The place is one of the convergence of the flows that are poured from the Esquiline in area of the Forums and could be reactivated getting back in its pivotal role and passage to the various units (see the transitional Forum of Nerva and the role that, mutatis mutandis, could continue to play).
The new accesses to the Forum (the local infrastructure). The issue of the new access points to the Forum area consists in the theme of the local infrastructure of the services: entrance, ticket office, bookshop, toilets, parking spaces for bicycles, etc. as well as being crucial in highlighting and enhancing the superposition and interference points between the inner edges of the stretch mark of the contemporary city tissue (represented by the absences produced from demolition made during the fascist period) and the underlying archaeological plan. These nodes, linking various urban histories, are primarily real thresholds between different times of the city as well as providing the necessary technical support for a dignified and efficient reception of visitors. The project establishes a hierarchy between these crossing points in order to define typology, direction and size of flows and the more representative urban location.
The Coliseum and the Temple of Venus and Rome (intervention on archeology). Both buildings exemplify the theme of the intervention on the archeology, emblematic for the museum display and enhancement of the artifacts. This reveals itself not only through the exhibition of objects, but the buildings themselves become the subject of the exhibition revival, between the need for a museum and the simultaneous use of the ruins. The new arena and the enhancement of the Flavian Amphitheatre hypogeal service structures will enable an easier re-use of spaces for shows and, at the same time, will allow the museum display, promotion and communication of underground structures which were the true focus of the technical operation of the great scenic machine of the amphitheater. The intervention on the Temple of Venus and Rome is more complex, closer to art installation than to that of his philological reconstruction. The outlined project aims to expand the use of the area of the Temple to host contemporary exhibitions, leaving on the ground the traces of ancient structures and raising the elevated space with access from Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The Basilica of Maxentius (the new entrance to the archaeological park). The project idea arises from the desire to exploit the pathways and spaces created for the making and use of the new Metro line C as opportunities to create urban spaces associated with the service center of the metro station. Not only paths where the relentless flows through this area are moving towards one direction or the other, but real living spaces at the underground level of the station, which fully involve the city.
Precisely for this reason the two entrances to the Metro C, at the Basilica of Maxentius, become square, path, cover, input and output, start and end of organized flows leading to the archaeological fruition. In particular, urban footpaths that, by their nature, lend themselves to being linked with the archaeological site entrances and paths within it, identify continuous paths that can integrate the different areas.
The square that is created at a height of 7 meters below the street level of Via dei Fori, on the side of the Basilica of Maxentius, as well as being a kind of "compass" for those who leave the Metro and begins to glimpse the city surface, is a true living space that, thanks to its lowered level, isolates himself from the chaos of the contemporary city above, but, at the same time, it is integrated with it.
The project means to propose the museum display strategies starting from the existing assets: a complex and spectacular archaeological palimpsest, further enriched over the centuries with the alterations, transformations and interpolations of medieval, modern and contemporary through proper setting, also in terms of "understandability" and communication as well as conservation, of all the topographical and monumental scenery. A project to define, punctually, performances and dimensional standards of the new Museum, also by strengthening the system of infrastructure (access and ticket offices, restaurants-cafes, bookshops, educational workshops, virtual refunds, etc.) and promoting great strategic actions which would also include the organization of events, exhibitions and other events of high cultural value.
3. Museological - museographical Project (Antiquarium)
To imagine the placement of the new Antiquarium on Belvedere Cederna represents the intention of playing the role of the new building as a new look towards the city, whose main elevations face the Basilica of Maxentius and the Forum on one side, and the Coliseum and the Temple of Venus and Rome on the other. The intent is also to replenish the street side scene of Via del Colosseo with a building that stands out from the context without override it, but that is the connection node between the level of Largo Agnesi, and that of Via dei Fori Imperiali, through a path that is grafted on the slope of Velia.
In order to give new life to the area where the compitum Acilii stood, the Museum is placed in a privileged point of this part of town that, however, was degraded and underused considered the incomparable landscape offered, which has characterized its realization (before the Belvedere temporary inclusion in the shipyard for the construction of the Fori Imperiali station of the metro Line C).
The location could be a starting point for a future expansion of the museum complex also towards the Palazzo Rivaldi, following a necessary intervention of structural and restoration of the entire complex.
4. Archaeological Project (setting up Fori Imperiali)
The area between Piazza Venezia and the Coliseum, passing through the Roman Forum is intimately linked to the presence of the center of ancient Rome, but it is also a portion of the city strongly hybridized from the Modern, both in terms of the urban role it has assumed in the contemporary era, and for built structures, which are juxtaposed to the ancient remains. The area, which still represents one of the key points of the city, has, in fact, maintained the central role it had in antiquity, growing on the millenarian stratification which is the true identity of Rome. Consequently, it cannot be considered a separate element from contemporary life, despite the extraordinary delicacy of its structures, however, cannot remain a fenced Archaeological Park, far removed from the urban context. On the other hand, the possibility of connection between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum was already present in the project of the Reserved Monumental Area of Rome by Guido Baccelli of 1887, as well as the connection with Via Cavour was considered well before the advent of Fascism, as a necessary element of an East-West urban accessibility, identifying Largo Corrado Ricci as the natural strategic point of this urban design. The Via dei Fori Imperiali retains its inner feature of edge of the modern city on the ancient one, essential for the movement of citizens and visitors to whom offers, however, a privileged view of the ancient remains and the opportunity to reach the archaeological site by vertical connections. The intent is to create the most favorable conditions for contemplation, rest, stroll, refreshment, protection in adverse weather conditions; all moments of the visit need to be implemented by setting up a network of adequate services. Consider that infrastructure adamant does not mean, however, give up the necessary reunification of the Forums and therefore the recognition of the “rule” characterizing the urban planning on the basis of which they were made, which is the main element to be enhanced.
To assume, then, Via dei Fori Imperiali as a structural element of the area in the urban sense means to interpret it also as an element of spatial porosity, which allows an osmotic link between the two parts in which the Forums are currently divided, by redressing the gap created with the opening of the monumental axis. For this reason the tour route presented in the project is also realized underneath Via dei Fori Imperiali, taking advantage of the existing hypogeums connections, which allow you to create an organic circuit capable of mending the continuity of the archaeological understanding through the full area ‘till the Colosseum, through the monumental architectural forms of the Basilica of Maxentius and the Temple of Venus and Rome.
The route includes several access points to the archaeological area, with the main services of reception and ticketing in order to systematize access to the many tourists who daily visit this part of town. The transformation from the current state of the central archaeological Urban Museum requires addressing and resolving the problems that always hinder the full exploitation of the vast historical and archaeological heritage and raises entirely new questions related to the new museum management methods which will have an extension of 75 ha and which is inserted in the most central part of the city. The Central Archaeological Area transformation into museum is also an opportunity to rethink and reorganize relations with the urban tissue of the city of Rome and to promote development of heritage that goes through real and intangible cognitive media.
The project is therefore the instrument that will allow us to re-read the archeology sense, rebuilding, simultaneously, a meaning now interrupted and fragmented by large portions of the city; and, at the same time, it will be the instrument through which a "narration" of history to the tourists of the whole area could be possible.