In collaboration with Kristin Jones and Eternal Tiber
Between the Ponte Giuseppe Mazzini and the Ponte Sisto there is a section of the Tiber River that is perfectly rectangular. It is the same size and proportion as the Circus Maximus, and like the Circus Maximus, this section of the river can become a vital center for public life in Rome: the new Piazza Tevere. Inspired by Michelangelo’s cornice at the Palazzo Farnese, the creation of an inhabitable cornice at the top of the Tiber’s flood walls allows for the energy of the city to extend into the realm of the river. The Tiber, which currently divides Rome physically and experientially, becomes a place where the city can now come together.
The rhythm of the cornice follows the city fabric on either side of the river, with Michelangelo’s uncompleted Farnese bridge forming the only alignment across the Tiber. The alternating stepped profile of the cornice acts as structure and ornament, and allows for a varying rhythm at street level of amphitheater seating and gardens. The gardens evoke the tradition of Rome’s intimate courtyard gardens, but here, the experience of the private garden is open to everyone. The forms and rhythms of the gardens are reminiscent of the inhabited, thickened walls surrounding ancient Roman baths. Within the gardens, fountains extend the experience of water up to the level of the street, forming a continuity with the many fountains found throughout the streets of Rome.
In order to facilitate activities at the river promenade below, the cornice, much like an opera fly tower, houses essential elements: light, sound, theatrical rigging, retractable screens for projection and display, a platform elevator for bikes, pedestrians, and equipment, and deployable seating for spectators. The cornice allows for a wide variety of art installations and performances to happen in the Piazza Tevere at various scales.
The multivalent nature of the activities housed in Roman baths is reflected in the programming of Piazza Tevere, gathering many possibilities into one place. In the street level gardens you can find a moment to yourself, a chance to play, and a place to watch the view. You can walk your dog, contemplate a work of art, enjoy a moment of calm, eat lunch from the street market, and have a quiet conversation. Below, you can play bocce ball, go wall climbing, do pull-ups, climb a rope, sit by the water, take a walk, ride a bike, see large-scale art, and watch a performance from a floating concert hall. At night, Piazza Tevere turns into a performance stage and you can watch from above, or from below. The projector screens allow for a shared screening experience, encompassing the entire piazza.