When In Rome — A collective reflection upon the Eternal City
AM3 | fala atelier | False Mirror Office | Fosbury Architecture | Adam Nathaniel Furman | jbmn | MAIO | PARA Project | Parasite 2.0 | Point Supreme | Something Fantastic | UNULAUNU | Warehouse of Architecture and Research | TRAUMNOVELLE | BDR Bureau | Ganko | Gosplan | La Macchina Studio | Raumplan | Supervoid | Jacopo Valentini
at The Practice Space, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD
from 5 September to 8 October 2017
Rome is an off-centre metropolis, out of an orthodox perception of time, where every single past becomes present in a continuous state of monumental contemporariness. Continuity and crisis share the same space: ancient brick walls are flanked by the anonymous “palazzine” complex of the latest years and among these the everyday madness of the city: ceaseless traffic, tourists blinded by the scorching sun, the pink roman dust settling on monuments, as Ludovico Quaroni would say. And again: traditions and languages, researches and cliches, cultures and avant-gardes, the most sacred and the vilest profane, all compose a living postcard with an inimitable capacity for self-renewal.
Is there a language, a framework, to rebuild? A tradition to rethread? In an age of multiplication of images and sources of inspiration, is there something still to explore in the Roman landscape? Are those “postcards from Rome” still able to produce emotion, to inspire a future action?
Through the work of several young practices, When in Rome explores this possibility: an architecture born from a deep reflection on tradition which is still able to produce something new. An architecture that counteracts this “loss of identity” by showing a profound interest in architectural theory and research coming from a generation of architects born in the ‘80s: a counter-trend that tries to recover a debate lost years ago and obstructed by a cumbersome star system.
Their theoretical, critical and historical approach is a fresh new attempt to rediscover a thoughtful dimension behind the architectural subject.
When in Rome is the result of a combination between two different shows: Re Constructivist Architecture and Unbuilt Rome. A combination of thoughts upon a Rome that could be (with Re Constructivist) and one that could have been (with Unbuilt Rome): a double vision from the past and towards the future, like those several images of Janus, the Roman deity of beginnings, gazing at the same time towards past and future. These two exhibitions share the interest in researching and understanding our contemporary approach to architecture specifically through the Roman lens: a lens that, again, scopes through a past tradition and tries to distill what’s best and what’s interesting to develop a new future — a framework — for architects to explore. Quoting Ernesto Nathan Rogers, we can say that we actually are in a continuous state of crisis or continuity, it all depends on how we look at the state of things: if we consider what’s still present, what survives, we can say we are in a condition of permanent continuity: something always survives to be ultimately transformed. On the contrary, if we focus towards what might emerge from future visions, we can consider ourselves in a state of perennial crisis. Again, a double vision that becomes a virtue: the ability of understand what continues and explore what may come, a fundamental quality in architecture. This duality, this ability to take the step back to push forward is what makes an exploration on Roman virtues of architecture needed, interesting and, ultimately, always alive and contemporary.
Re Constructivist Architecture (previously at Ierimonti Gallery in New York and at the Casa dell’Architettura in Rome) showcased the work of thirteen international practices presenting a residential project for the Roman countryside, a “villa nella campagna romana”. A design exercise meant as a typological investigation, or, more generally, as a meditation on the autonomy of the architectural discipline.
At the same time, Unbuilt Rome (at Campo Space, Rome) explored the idea of the city through a series of unrealised projects designed for Rome. Asking nine young Italian practices to investigate some examples of this invisible but present patrimony that had a significant influence on the architectural culture and on the debate on the city.
This combination of projects is, in the end, a heartfelt gift to the city of Rome, an homage to the city that inspired and influenced generations of architects, a first step towards the rethreading of an important tradition.
Curated by Jacopo Costanzo, Giulia Leone and Valentino Danilo Matteis with Davide Sacconi