ROME CONTESTED

Elisa Iturbe & Brittany Utting

Studio Peter Eisenman

Fall 2013

In the unstructured space of the Piazza de Termini, this library operates as a territorial stitch between the two potent objects of the site: the Baths of Diocletian and Termini Station. A new urban void enclosed by the incomplete frame of the library negotiates a restructuring of the site, producing a network of figured voids now oriented around the Baths and aligned to its original axes.

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. What results is a schizophrenic landscape twisted between two constructs of space: the Bath’s aggregated logic of spatial modules and the homogeneous linear expanse of the train 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 homogeneous infill of context. The bars of the library thus carve and are carved by the context, contaminated by their own terms of spatial negotiation.

 

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Our analysis began with a spatial chronology of the site. The first objects present were the Baths of Diocletian and a military camp to the northwest of the baths. Soon after, Sixtus V carved the first avenues across the city, claiming territory by connecting objects along pilgrimage routes. Porta Pia, the church of Santa Susanna, Le Quattro Fontane, and Santa Maria Maggiore are all markers along these routes.  Eventually, the void between these objects is filled by urban fabric. The train tracks leading to Termini cut through Rome, and both the old and new stations open directly to the Baths. The new Termini station, however, is set back from the old, leaving an enormous unstructured void between the Baths and the train terminal. This project addresses that void, continuing the fabric along each side of Termini and then carving it with both the orientations of Termini and the Baths in order to negotiate their relationship without the introduction of a third urban object. The result is a network of figured voids, each acting as a stitch in the urban fabric.