THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST
This is a polemical response to the questions raised by Rome’s present condition, an ideological critique towards the general perception of the past in the “eternal city”. Rejecting a view of the past as a crystalizing element, we believe that it is precisely within it that the clues which enable our thinking of the future image of the city lie.
In the spirit of the “Instauratio Urbis”, our proposal is conceived as a re-evaluation of Rome’s cultural legacy: like in Piranesi’s work, we are exploring the possibility of manifesting, through our building, the underlying qualities that make the essence of a timeless Roman artefact.
We believe that a contemporary sacred building in the Campo Marzio, historically known as a chaotic agglomeration of large architectural objects, has to imply a certain use of scale, mass and physicality in order to successfully establish itself as a new architectural actor in this historically charged screenplay.
We therefore think that a “small pavilion”, as required by the brief, would not be able to solve the challenges represented by this specific site and would be inadequate if related to the architectural presence which comes to mind when considering sacred architecture in Rome.
From an urban point of view, we decided to reach out to the city by occupying the whole available site, in order to recompose the original streetscape.
We see a new sacred building here as a compelling occasion to reinstate Via Giulia as the city’s experimental laboratory, as in pope Giulio II’s urban strategy.
Our project’s core values stand as a testimony of a modus operandi through which we think is possible to give back meaning to contemporary architecture in this part of Rome.
THE MULTIPLICITY OF SACRALITY
Having acknowledged, according to the different cultures and religions, the multiple nature of the sacred, our intention is to spatially translate this idea through an architecture of possibilities.
We think that the requested program is very challenging and dangerous to resolve through the use of one catalyzing main space. Our project is therefore organized as a non hierarchical series of contemplative rooms with an open courtyard at their heart, a rich and omnidirectional sequence of highly atmospheric and emotional spaces, open for interpretation according to one’s own spiritual sense and idea of contemplation.
We believe a human being’s relationship with sacrality and the metaphysical can be described as a journey, a continuous quest towards something which cannot be clearly defined. Consequently, we are not giving an answer through our architecture; we are trying to offer a series of different possibilities where to go and look for one. These sculptural, grotto-like spaces, carved out of the building’s flesh, dramatically filter zenithal light through a variety of roof typologies and room heights.
The building should communicate a sense of monumental timelessness and permanence, in a way that makes it difficult to link it precisely to a certain era. We are reducing architecture to its essential qualities through an aesthetic of mass and substance, where the rustication offered by diamond-shaped travertine blocks offers a strong sense of physicality, a clear reference to Ancient Roman architecture. An introverted, hermetically sealed fortress, exuding sacrality.