Looking at the urban fabric of Rome, it is made up of overlapping historical layers under constant transformation. One “hidden gem” within these layers is the Aurelian Wall, the ancient Roman defense wall dating back to the third century AD which still, to the greater extent, pierces through the city. Today the wall works to establish a form of continuity within the urban fabric rather than acting as a border.
We propose that this structure that once protected the city from invaders could be used to revitalize the city by once again come to the aid of the Roman inhabitants, this time in their need for housing. Consisting of three main elements, being the wall itself, the watch towers and the gates, the proposal introduces a fourth element, the collective living.
The 19 kilometers of wall provides not only the opportunity for people to live in and share a household, but it also performs as an infrastructure, linking the different co-livings together.
The project demonstrates that the Aurelian wall does not only have permanancy but also resilience, as a new layer is added onto the existing.
When walking along the Aurelian wall, it performs differently according to its context. As a consequence of the topography, the urban landscape and the wear and tear of historical events, the wall presents itself in a variety of ways. The intervention can take place in spaces where the wall is intact and has a thickness of 3,5 meters with openings, which enables inhabitable spaces within the wall. As the physicality and context of the wall changes, it provides different qualities generating a variety of interventions. The project goes into detail in one of the possible sites, located near the gate of Saint Giovanni.
The living units are arranged linear along the wall and are configured in accordance to privacy. The most private spaces, the sleeping pods and bathrooms, are located in the back, inside the wall. The semiprivate spaces, such as the kitchen and living rooms, are located inbetween the wall and the common terrace which connects all the units. The degree of privacy is further regulated by the opening and closing of partition walls, making it possible to open up the private space to the common terrace, intertwining the different spaces into one large space.
To inhabit the wall, the housing requires additional structure to perform for optimal living conditions without damaging the structure of the wall itself. This is done by gently wrapping the wall with a cross laminated timber structure, lowered into a shallow slit. The wood beam cantilivers five metersl, providing the opportunity to suspend the main floor and smaller private lofts with steel cables. The added wood frame structure can easily be attached and later removed.