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Post Religious Rome

Part 2 Project 2013
Peter Hinchliffe
University of Westminster London UK
February 2013: The Pope resigns. This real fact lands in the middle of my narrative speculations about the future of a post-religious Rome and the many different architectural implications of such a scenario.

My project had begun, experiments: some exploring a hundred different ways to draw the same line; some considering domestic space under the most threatening of circumstances (arrow slots, used for attack, defense and surveillance) some generating complex three dimensional forms

The brief called for a radical retrofit of one of the most highly symbolic spaces of this highly symbolic city. I chose the most provocative of all: St Peters; the centre of the Christian world. A narrative began to unfold: the decline of Christianity; religious wars in Europe; a Christian community under siege from external forces (other religions? Non-religious believers?) What needs would such a community have; what forms could it take, what areas of this preposterous project should I take seriously?

Part of the project was in fact driven by the technical imperatives of architecture, the preposterous idea carried through to working drawing stage. My idea, that all the churches of Rome be taken over and occupied as housing units under the threat of physical attack, gave me something to work out in obsessive detail: how could a 'panic room' (using the geometrical explorations of my earlier work) be inserted into the squashed geometric genius of Boromini's San Carlo church? How would it be occupied? How would you get it through the door? Where would the crane go?

Then the even bigger picture: How would St Peters by re-occupied and re-used. It works as a kind of public forum for non-religious debate it is a museum of great experiments of the past - a kind of mixture of the Science Museum and a pop-up Parliament. And what kind of epic architectural language might this new, irreligious world start to develop or subvert?

This is not a classic architectural 'proposal'. It is an attempt to drawn design, model, criticize and exploit the strange opportunities architecture offers, to react as a productive, practical, and highly creative way to the many unexpected things that architectural throws at you, and sometimes real life does too.

Peter Hinchliffe

Sean Griffiths
Dr Kester Rattenbury
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