Last week I participated in a workshop organized by AACUPI with Roma Tre Universita. The project was a “Pavilion in Extra-Light Materials” and its program was to be a semi-permanent info-point and ticket office at the colosseum that should have minimal contact with the earth to address the archaeological nature of the site.
The charette was held at Roma Tre’s first campus at the old (1880’s) Testaccio slaughterhouse, and was supposed to be conducted in English, but that rule quickly went out the window as we split into groups to begin brainstorming. My group consisted of one other Pratt student, five Roma Tre students, and two local architects as tutors (Marinella Rauso of Studio Ottone-Pignatti, and Luca Fontana of IaN+.)
I had to concentrate hard on every conversation to get an idea of what was going on – I did all the 3D modeling, so I ran a lot of the formal design and couldn’t be ignored when I needed a translation. The design process at Roma Tre was different for me, especially since at Pratt we rarely work in groups larger than two, but by the end of the week I have five new friends, new ideas about low-impact architecture, more Italian vocabulary, and a good project on a crazy site.
The project was to design space for tourist facilities like tickets, info, toilets, and café, and we wanted to incorporate a sense that its architecture was an extension or improvement of the landscape, instead of an imposition on it. We decided to use rectangular HVAC tubes to construct a series of sections that are easily assembled and extremely light on the earth. The tubes bear on steel scaffold supports painted green to match the bamboo plantings in the five vases which define the spaces inside the pavilion. The roof slopes to the ground on one edge so that the stepped surface can be used as seating at ideal view points towards the colosseum and the roman forum.
Of the work produced by the seven design teams, our “architecture as landscape” concept pavilion was named by most of the critics as the project that best fulfilled the requirement for extra-light materials and most successfully integrated itself into the site.