Design 7 | Rome Semester Abroad

  • The design studio at the University of Arkansas - Rome Center was devoted to the Aurelian Walls.  Encircling the city, they are a commanding presence in the urban fabric but they are largely neglected.  Throughout the semester, projects completed both individually and in teams focused on redeveloping various portions of the ancient city walls.  
  • Left: a warm-up exercise meant to be an introduction to the urban context of Rome.  This project restructured the pedestrian and cyclist pathways along the Tiber River to the north of the city, by the Foro Italico.  
    Right: a vignette from the WallWalk Workshop, a week-long charette in which I worked with about ten other students from other American and Italian universities under the direction of landscape artist Adam Kuby to develop a proposal for the section of the Aurelian Wall alongside the Baths of Caracalla.
  • As an introduction to the final project, we worked in teams to analyze both the entirety of the Aurelian Walls as well as a specific section, near Porta Portese in Trastevere.  I worked with Theresa Starrs (PhilaU), Matthew Talley (UARK), and Kyle Chandler (UARK) to analyze the porous nature of the walls and how they act as a unifying or devisive force at various points throughout the city. 
  • My final project was a proposal for a park spanning across both sides of the Aurelian Wall at Porta Portese and Luigi Moretti's historic GIL building.  The neighborhood outside the walls here is disconnected from the neighborhood of Trastevere inside the walls.  Both neighborhoods are home to people of all ages, so this park is an expansion to the existing recreational area for the elderly along Viale di Trastevere and the Nuovo Sacher Cinema on Via di Porta Portese.  A new marketplace and greenhouse is installed within the historic airplane hangar.  The parks on both sides of the wall are unified by strips of gardens and benches made of travertine and concrete which extend through and over the wall, mirroring the activity on both sides of the wall.  These strips originate from the module of the structural bays of the hangar and provide a visual pattern on the floor plane, increasing in density at areas of higher activity.  A new slice is cut in the ancient wall, allowing better access between the two recreational zones.  Otherwise, the wall is left untouched, as the gardens become green walls which are held away from the brick and the travertine panels which extend over the wall are held away from it, never touching.  The linear nature of these parks is meant to allow free circulation on both sides, which directing attention towards the wall running through the middle.