Power of Memory

Piranesi Prix de Rome 2016 XIV Edition, competition for via dei Fori Imperiali in Rome.

The architectural project bases is based on two main structural features, seemingly antagonistic: on the one hand the structure of the Forum, with its geometrical sequence and the continuity of ideal and/or physical relations, on the other hand the axis of the modern road that, following the original project, is indistinctly and casually superimposed pursuing the sole objective of a functional Piazza Venezia-Coliseum connection, by the means a construction that is, from a specific point of view, of perfect wisdom and of great environmental and landscaping knowledge. The assessment of these layered planning proposals originates a project that binds archaeology and modern via a continuous shift of formal and use hierarchies and alters the perceptual distinction through a constant change of level in order to ensure a total circulation. Total does not mean indistinct: contemporary landmarks redefine the boundaries of the Forum respecting the historical physical relationships between them and towards the passages that in ancient times allowed the carrying out of all activities. The modern road, through a large structural intervention, will be structured like a suspended viaduct to allow the archaeological continuity in specific locations, its section shrinking and changing substantially following an irregular pattern that emphasizes the relationships with the presences at the sides. Namely archaeological ones especially in the first section from Piazza Venezia to the Templum Pacis-via Cavour, and monumental presences, strongly marked by natural components, up to the Coliseum and further on towards the Colle Oppio.

Therefore the architectural design choice relies on two types of planning interventions. In first instance it attempts to recompose of the unity of the Forum. From a careful reading of the archaeological evidence, the findings of the latest studies and the more recent excavation notebooks it proceeds to the reorganization of the findings of the Adrian’ Auditoria in order to make them usable and, through the evidence of a newly constructed long linear path, tie them to the system of Trajan’s Forum and Ulpia Basilica. New excavations are suggested for the recovery of the exedra of Trajan's Forum in contact with the Forum of Caesar and to bring out the side of the base of the Temple of Venus Genitrix as well as all the long portico of Caesar that, mirroring the row of the existing restored colonnade, defines the rectangular dimensions of this great Forum space. Conversely it redefines the square perimeter of the Sacrarium closing of the Forum of Trajan, raising the walls that previous theories indicated as front of the Temple dedicated to the Emperor and renovates the elevations of the exedras of the Forum of Augustus with its porticoed boundaries up to the Forum of Caesar. Along the Grillo rise neighboring the Suburra, today the trendy Monti district, the two connecting doors are reopened after a modern renovation, the first next to the colossal statue of Mars Ultor, the other under the Pantani arch. Always in order to connect and ensure the transverse permeability of the Suburra to the Roman Forum, a modern system of stairs and elevators defines the margin of the Transitional Forum, true way of passage, today as in the past, for the crossing towards the Curia and to the slope of the Capitoline Hill, a path retraced in the medieval period, through the Renaissance and until the nineteenth century. The excavation of the Temple of Peace through the complete closure of the Via Cavour and the elimination of Largo Corrado Ricci results in a hub of great strength and in a revolutionary transformation capacity of all of the central urban area. It completely subverts the actual model of urban fruition by the construction of a large underground plaza that will allow the recovery of the archaeological footprint of this vast space. On the one hand it will enable the reading of the values of classical antiquity, on the other the creation of a contemporary urban space for other activities and leisure breaks, but above all modern access yard to the new Antiquarian Museum. The latter is developed under the Via dei Fori Imperiali and emerges with a glass tower from the archaeological ruins up to the height of Villa Rivaldi. In order to ensure the integration of the cultural activities, the Museum is connected to the Villa’s sixteenth-century building by a long staircase that rises spectacularly from the museum's entrance hall to the secluded garden, who will be provided of a large glass shed.

Therefore the Via dei Fori, canceled in its current configuration, but revived as a suspended and restricted line, almost a long bridge that its viewpoints and its descents, stairs and adjoining ramps, passes over the monumental sequence of the Forum system, turning in positive the abnormal and violent overlapping of last century’s construction and becoming the modern structural core of the whole new system of the Imperial Forum, from the Temple of Peace to Hadrian, Auditoria till Piazza Venezia : a contemporary boardwalk tied to the visual and landscape axiality between the Nation’s Altar and the Coliseum that still retains its architectural, urban and landscape value. In order to underline this architectural value and the role of an unequivocal urban continuum, the project involves the construction of a long structure following the street alignment, with arcades on a double level: on the street level it allows to walk shielded from the sun and the rain, while above it becomes an elevated route able to seize unexpected and striking visuals. Architecturally defined episodes are combined with the construction of the new path: ramps and stairs to get on and off the archaeological level alternate along the way, stops and viewpoints characterize its structure, large flights of steps will allow the vision of events and screenings that, according to a new management model, will more and more become the modality of the educational and scientific communication of the Forum. Proceeding towards the Coliseum, two ramps go up shaping an ideal trident, one towards the Villa Rivaldi garden and from there to the new Museum Tower, the other to the parterre, also reachable by a graded ramp system and a lift, of the Basilica of Maxentius, which becomes the new main entrance to the Roman Forum, instead of the most sacrificed entrance to the Old Salara. Around the Coliseum, the project displays a landscaping intervention with a large water basin and the rearrangement of the green exedra that defines the pedestrian use of the square and separates the monument from the upper driveway. A long underground walkway starts under this green exedra rising slowly to the garden in front of the Domus Aurea and, higher still, to the Baths of Trajan. As a last intervention, the construction of a large wall that defines the space of the Ludus Magnus and hides the big ramp down to the archaeological level.