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DEVIANT-STRANDS: ISOLA TIBERIS TO CIRCO MASSIMO

Part 2 Project 1999
Peter Maxwell
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
- What is the status of the River Tiber today? It is a void; in terms of its use and archaeology, a vacuum. It provided a unique position from which to question the city of Rome and its representations.

- By distorting and straightening the Tiber a new anamorphic datum was created. Based on this, the city was then re-calibrated.

- The distorted urban field was then collapsed into the river void reversing the established urban hierarchies and creating new adjacencies of history, infrastructure and urban form.

- Through a series of studies and transcriptions the field was developed into a coagulated landscape with weaving, programmatically-defined strands.

- Conceived as an ‘archaeological machine’ it was then positioned on the Circus Maximus (which was historically linked to the Tiber with sluices) which it scarred and excavated producing different contextual and sectional striations.

- Areas of density within the field suggested particular zones for further development (3 projects – for a monastery, mediatheque, and courthouse – were produced). Within these and throughout the structure ‘confetti’ pieces were scattered, urban forms warped by the anamorphic process which transformed temples into kennels and traffic islands into stadia.

- The metamorphosis was studied at higher resolution through building full-size details of the building.

Peter Maxwell


This proposal for the Circus Maximus in Rome by Peter Maxwell, James Marks, and James White is a wonderfully rich, resonant, and speculative project. Their investigation moves from the development of an urban-scale strategy, right down to the full-size construction of parts of the building. The implications of their approach are rigorously tested through the various scales.

Throughout the process the consequences of specific modes of architectural representation were thoroughly questioned. How to ‘picture’ the project in its various stages in the most productive way became a major issue. The team moved fluidly and inventively between the computer, camera, pen, scalpel, and concrete mixer and steel press.

The project started with a series of questions about the Baroque and its relationship with the present (texts by Deleuze, Calabrese, Lacan, and Buci-Glucksmann were discussed). The work made many connections as it developed from the idea of a non-perspectival anamorphic distortion (ie. there is no single position from which it can be decoded); to the construction of a transformed ‘urban field’; to the definition of an architectural form (strands and confetti); to the ‘flooding’ of the Circus; and the reading of the assemblage against the stratification of the city.

1999
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