In its ongoing efforts to introduce imaginative public spaces into cities, New York-based Ballman Khapalova has unveiled a proposal to turn a section of the Tiber River into a new vital center for public life in Rome dubbed the Piazza Tevere. The proposed location is a perfectly rectangular area of the river between the Ponte Giuseppe Mazzini and the Ponte Sisto that is also the same size and proportion as the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium known as the first and largest stadium in Ancient Rome. To activate the river banks, sections of the river flood walls would be extended out into an alternating stepped profile that would expand public space at street level and make room to house equipment used for activities at the river promenade below.
The Piazza Tevere design takes inspiration from Michelangelo’s cornice at the Palazzo Farnese, one of Rome’s most important High Renaissance palaces known for its rich ornamentation.
“The creation of an inhabitable cornice at the top of the Tiber’s flood walls allows for the energy of the city to extend into the realm of the river,” the architects said of their proposal to horizontally extend portions of the flood wall into cornice-inspired ledges. “The Tiber, which currently divides Rome physically and experientially, becomes a place where the city can now come together. The rhythm of the cornice follows the city fabric on either side of the river, with Michelangelo’s uncompleted Farnese bridge forming the only alignment across the Tiber.”
Extending sections of the flood walls would create space for amphitheater seating, fountains and Roman courtyard-inspired gardens to cultivate a greater connection between the street level and the water. The cornice-like ledges would also be used to house equipment for activities on the river promenade below such as lighting and sound equipment, theatrical rigging, retractable screens for projection and display and a platform elevator for bicycles and pedestrians.
By providing greater access to the river promenade below, the architects have proposed a wide array of programming including bocce ball courts, rock climbing walls, outdoor gym equipment, large-scale outdoor art installations and even performance venues that can take place on land or from a floating concert hall on the river, with spectator seating set onto the river promenade.
Images via Ballman Khapalova