Unbuilt Rome – Exhibition for CAMPO space
Residenze speciali sull’area degli ex frigoriferi del mattatoio al Testaccio
Unbuilt Rome is an invitation to imagine the effect of time, to verify the unexpected, to reclaim the opportunity, to reinterpret the absence. In the continuous overlapping, grafting and rewriting we can read the logic of Rome, its mutant form and the eternal conflict between the Rome that exists, the Rome that could have been and the Rome that will be.
Alessandro Anselmi designed a building in 1984 for temporary housing in Testaccio, intended to host workers and families in need of accommodation in the city for shorter or longer periods.
Looking at the past experiences of machine for living, the building is a sort of infrastructure that provides the temporary residences with a system of services in an attempt to become almost independent and simultaneously connected to the local community, unfolding its spaces on the urban scene of the piazza (the current Mercati Generali).
Read in the era of the sharing economy and of new phenomena of dwelling that affects big cities, the project seems a precursor of its time. Compared to 1984, technological innovations have changed production and work paradigm, encouraging mobility and speeding up the concept of temporariness. Boundaries between public/private spaces and between work/living spaces have been blurred. At the same time family units have changed, as well as the economic crisis has reduced the average spending power for housing. In this scenario, the temporary residence is no longer necessarily comparable with the family apartment.
On this basis we can suppose the temporary housing of Anselmi would evolve into a laboratory for testing new forms of dwelling in a shared environment.
Nevertheless, this exercise of imagination requires a reflection on the relationship between the architectural form and the implications brought by the domestic revolution.
Observed from a morphological point of view, the project is articulated around the theme of the wall as a boundary that separates and unites: two walls of apartments, a linear and a zigzag, are welded by a terraced-stepped trapezoidal courtyard.
The project is in all intents monumental, with its staircase as a tribute to the Monte dei Cocci and the design of the façade that recalls the historic roman walls.
There is, however, a contradiction between the plasticity of the architectural work and the intention to create a flexible system for temporary housing.
The same typological choice, a compact volume that consists of a double track of buildings (applied in several social housing experiences in the 60s and 80s in Italy) produces a rigid system of streets-balcony in which relationships are only punctual, limiting the articulation of shared spaces.
The opportunity of transformation, here, lies in the colonization of this monumental architecture.
A new light infrastructure is grafted between the two buildings making the interstitial space a huge winter garden; new platforms create spatial relationships between the two volumes and act as extra space that tenants are free to use.
The new infrastructure amplifies the living space, allowing to reformulate the original form of the residences. It becomes possible to dismantle the apartments and minimize the private living units in favor of larger areas for sharing activities. A series of devices, designed as quick temporary dwelling units, colonize the interior. The building almost turns into a big campsite, supporting the demand for fast temporary housing related to the cultural life of the neighborhood. Say hello from Camping Testaccio.
Exhibition: for CAMPO space
Architects: BDR bureau
Team: Alberto Bottero, Simona Della Rocca
Site: Rome, Italy
Photos exhibition: Mauro Filippi