DSGN4100 Rome Option Studio

Collective Palimpsest: Interpreting the Strata of a Roman Piazza


Studio Statement

In the center of a very large city, ...., the street in the middle of the town wants to be a building; it does not want to be just a street, and that is realization. If you think of it only as a street, then it never can occur to you that the construction of it is anything but a leftover thing in which you use the meanest ways of making it, because you will not see it.

But if you think of it as being that which it really wants to be and that is a building you will not have to dig it up every time a pipe goes bad. You will have a place for these things. You will have a place for walking under, you will have a place for other things, and it will occur to you what this building is which is called a street, and then you will realize that you are actually walking on or riding on the roof of this building. That is a very important thing to realize about a street in the middle of a town, because it is really a contour, it is really a level, and it really is a building.

Louis Kahn

excerpts from Talk at the Otterlo Congress, Louis Kahn Essential Texts.

Experience of living in Rome reveals the city as both, a bustling contemporary metropolis and a collection of historic monuments forming a dense urban fabric. The first (8) weeks of your study abroad semester will focus on the understanding of urban morphology as a collective palimpsest of physical and socio-temporal spatial entity.

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Roman piazzas are one of the most celebrated examples of public space. They are historic architectural landmarks that adapts and transforms spectacularly with the hybrid of present-day uses. You will begin by examine the strata of Roman piazzas as formal and spatial constructs that provide the stage set for an array of social-temporal activities. You will then, propose an architectural intervention to transform the piazza of your choice, accommodating a specific event based on your observation, analysis and interpretations.

*Studio Co-instructors:

Kentaro Tsubaki

Tiffany Lin (Rome program director)

Photo: Tsubaki ©