Roma Interrotta; The Continuum

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Roma Interrotta; The Continuum

Pasquale Iaconantonio



Roma Interrotta [a.p.o.v.] is as free interpretation of the designs made on Nolli’s Map of Rome, by P. Sartogo, C. Dardi, A. Grumbach, J. Stirling, P. Portoghesi, R. Giurgola, R. Venturi, C. Rowe, M. Graves, R. Krier, A. Rossi, L. Krier, for the project named Roma Interrotta, in 1978.After forty years, since the first exhibition at Mercati Traianei, this work wants to be another point of view of the utopian proposals made by twelve architects, through Piranesi’s etchings.


In 1748, Giovanni Battista Nolli exhibited the “New Map of Rome” to Pope Benedetto XIV; twelve engravings in which, from foundation to the roofs, the city was sectioned: 1320 places of (singular-peculiar-special) interests, 114 squares, 311 buildings, 326 churches, aqueducts and archways, antiquities, well-known fountains, chapels, oratories, monasteries, hospitals… just for a city populated by a hundred-fifty thousand people.

Nolli’s Map was the last urban development planning coherent to Rome. The end of the ‘80s was a time of inactivity and land speculation. In that period, Piero Sartogo and the “Incontri internazionali d’arte” proposed to design Rome again, starting from the Nolli’s Map and working by removal.

In this way, Roma Interrotta was born: an idea which gets involved twelve international famous architects, who were invited to propose a new personal design of the city, (each) working on one of illustrations.


Roma Interrotta [a.p.o.v] wants to be another point of view of the utopian proposals made by the twelve architects in 1978, through Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s etchings.



Who influences you graphically?

I’ve been always fascinated by the ancient engravings, Nolli and Piranesi crystallized some of the most magnificent views of Rome of the past.

The choice of the viewpoint and of the prospective, the research of the symbology and the detail of the stroke, make those images a remarkable esthetical reference point which can be used to measure with.

On the other hand radical architectures were created in the ‘70s by Archigram, Superstudio, Archizoom and many others that, with the research about the original project of ‘Roma interrotta’ in 1978, contributed to shape my mind with a series of visions with a purely utopic taste.


What dictated the use of a similar aesthetic to that of etchings if we talk about a contemporary re-interpretation?

The Nolli’s plan that the designers of ‘Roma Interrotta’ worked on is dated 1748.

The choice of Piranesi’s engravings as a common base for the graphic works represents the closest image of Rome to the Nolli’s one.


Such engravings are the common thread of a series of projects not linked together and that use different architectural languages.

The only link is the need to open a debate: the utopia as a concrete philosophy to employ into the reality, because sometimes to design the possible it is necessary to think of the impossible.


What was your work process in terms of concept development and images? 

The thorough study of the drawings and of the original writings was the starting point to deepen the knowledge about the designers’ intentions.

The graphic products try to take into account both the architectural background of architects and the approach adopted in the Nolli’s plan, although they are also freely contaminated by suggestions during the study phase.




Once I visualized the image that I wanted to represent, some representations were developed through 3D modelling, while others were created through “digital collages” made by superimposition of images.

If you could format the project into something other than separate drawings what would that be?

The result takes into consideration only some interventions, but cannot be considered a finished and closed work. There are still many other stories that deserve to be told.

Beyond the single representations, I would like to realise a real scale model of such interventions on Nolli’s map, in order to have a brand-new perspective of ‘Roma interrotta’.


To what extent does and has you cultural heritage influenced your architecture?

The inputs that I daily receive come from different sources, most of them are light years away from architectural studies.

I am inspired by anything, from the past and from the present, and I used such a representation because I believe this is the most appropriate to tell this story.

I think it is wrong to focus its own creative process just on a single type of representation, because it might be possible to forget about the substance favouring the appearance.



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