BIBLIOTECA DI ROMA

In the unstructured space of the Piazza dei Cinquecento, the library operates as a territorial stitch between the two potent objects of the site: the Baths of Diocletian and Termini Station.  The northern bar of the library resurrects the former frame of Diocletian, occupying the space of the bath’s original outer wall. The eastern and western bars of the library repeat the framing logic of Termini, however reoriented to the baths and obscured by the homogenous infill of context. The bars of the library thus carve and are carved by the context, contaminated by their own terms of spatial negotiation. This new urban void enclosed by the incomplete frame of the library negotiates this restructuring of the site, producing a network of figured voids now oriented around the object of the Baths and aligned to its original urban axes. What results is a project schizophrenically adhering to two constructs of space: the bath’s aggregated logic of spatial modules and the homogenous linear expanse of the train station. The spatial logic of the library belongs to both objects and thus flaunts its duplicity, oscillating between a state of belonging to and subversion of its urban context. Through a precise mapping of a site, a project can lay bare structures of power and history in a city, to create a spatial trace of these archaeologies and spatial struggles. In collaboration with Elisa Iturbe.

Critic: Peter Eisenman, Yale School of Architecture, 2013

 

URBAN ARCHAEOLOGIES

The site was first built on during the Roman Empire as a field of two objects layered within the city walls. The Baths of Diocletian – a building enclosed by a frame - and the Roman Castra, a gridded military camp grafted into the city’s ancient walls. At the height of the Renaissance, Sixtus V radically altered the city, transforming it from an aggregation of discrete objects into a series of axes connecting sites of pilgrimage, making explicit the power of Rome as the spiritual center of the World. For centuries after the sack of Rome, the city slowly repopulated, infilling the site and rebuilding the urban fabric. Following World War II, Termini Station was built. Cutting through both the ancient city walls and the fabric of the city, this radically modern station created a new urban void in the city, one which directly confronted the ruins of the baths.