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FORUM DOMUS

In collaboration with Jeremy Leonard

Project entry awarded honorable mention in the Bee Breeders' Rome Collective Living Challenge Competition

 

The Eternal City of Rome is a place steeped in a diverse continuum of traditions and histories. Since its establishment in the time of Remus and Romulus, it has steadily expanded into a metropolis where the humanistic and the sacred are intertwined. This union is the result of cultures, amassed over centuries, embedding their identities onto the city. Like geological striations, they manifest physically through datums of brick and stone; leaving hints and memories of the distant past. Rome, as she exist today, is an urban museum, where the wonders of yesteryears become spectacles for the present and beyond. As such, her legacy is reliant upon the delicate balance between the preservation of heritage, and the mitigation of change. This project negotiates a compromise by generating density upon the existing infrastructures of the urban fabric.

In the 1960’s, Superstudio provokes a delirious yet sincere approach to architecture and its political responsibilities. They propagate a tabula rasa technique by introducing a unifying “cosmic order” as the means to democratize the built environment. Their intentions are to dissolve existing hierarchies, but their methods are overly excessive relative to Rome’s social and political context…

Instead, an alternative is to adapt to the footprints of insulae, apartment blocks, as the foundations for growth. Since Rome does not conform to a homogeneous grid, the size and form of each massing will be unique to its locale. This scheme minimizes the impact on the streetscape, while instigating a system that can be established throughout. In doing so, the ever-critical issue of providing cohabitation can be engaged without erasing the city’s celebrated past.

The configuration of the layout is derived from Vitruvius’ typological analysis of the Roman domus. Within exists an elementary relationship between the private and public realms that correlates seamlessly with the pursuit of co-living; an atrium, courtyard, flanked by a series of cubicula, private chambers. The former becomes an open forum fostering collaborative interactions, while the later offers affordable refuge with amenities at proximity. Vertical circulation connects them to the cityscape below with roof gardens above that provide panoramic views of the city’s evolving skyline. By strategically responding to contemporary issues, and politically charged sites, the design allows Rome to emerge as a sanctuary for all instead of the privileged few.