ROME: Radical Retrofit

Part 1 – SITE

You are to identify a potent site in Rome. You may find this yourself or you might use one of the suggested sites below. There is no rule against people doing the same site, in fact it might be interesting and useful (in that you can pool research and site analysis) if more than one person does a particular site. You should do some initial googling on the suggested sites before you go so as to be generally well informed and to know what to look out for.

Whilst in Rome, photograph, film, map, observe, draw (especially draw) measure, research and generally collect as much information about your chosen site as possible. There are obviously ways to further this research on your return.

Good sites might include:


The Market of Trajan

Foro d’Italica (formally Foro Mussolini)


The Roman Forum

Basilica of Constantine

The Vatican

Piazza St Pietro

Piazza Navona


Baths of Caracalla

The Porta Pia

We will be visiting most of these sites during the trip.


The project for the remainder of the year will be a major retrofit of your chosen site, based on the theme of Behavioral Change.

You will use the techniques of analytical drawing, 2D and 3D geometrical manipulation and compositional research to develop your designs, as well as your early explorations on artefacts and conditions generating behaviour change. These methods must be used at all scales from the door knobs, through to architectural and constructional components, and planning in the development of your design.

Your first task will be to develop an initial idea for a programme. This is entirely up to you and can (and probably should) be based on normative programmes such as housing, commercial, transport, education, health, leisure etc. There is enough rhetorical possibility in the development and interaction of these types of programme with these kinds of sites without having to go off into the realms of programmatic fantasy.

The only other stipulation is that the programme should promote behavioral change. Again this can be relatively normative and driven as much by analysis as by design (e.g. it is a given that a housing scheme in the Colosseum will promote behavior change in which case your task will be to speculate on, and find a way to draw HOW it promotes behavior change).

Your projects will be part of the idea of the City as Living Museum – the radical reuse of the historical city. Due to population growth it has become necessary to densify the city’s use. Empty monuments are a luxury that cannot be afforded, every square inch has to be put to use. The city cannot expand as undeveloped land is required for food growing.  Spaces both domestic and other spaces may need to be shared and have more than one use. Each citizen has to grow a proportion of their own food. School,. Institutions, workspaces etc need to be accommodated . Everyone needs to be kept cool and (occasionally) warm with minimum use of resources  and energy.

You are not however developing a masterplan for the city, but an individual proposal in relation to this idea.

Submission Thursday 6th December

Presentation of initial site analysis.

Presentation of initial programme idea inclusive of rationale and an outline schedule of accommodation.

image credits: Model of Rome 300AD in the Museo della Civilta Romana. From the book Genius Loci.

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