Long understood as “The Eternal City,” Rome has never in fact existed outside of time and it presents a mutable urban landscape that is at once both ancient and contemporary. The heavy, more enduring aspects of the city, have all been underpinned and enlivened by lightweight and temporary materials, impermanent structures, and transient events. These include the temporal transformations to the very buildings understood as enduring, ‘timeless’ monuments. The simultaneity of heavy and light materials finds parallels with other aspects of the city that are concurrently permanent and temporary and both visible and invisible.
The 2018 Architecture in Rome program explored these dualities and simultaneities as lenses for a deeper and more complex understanding of the architecture, history and culture of the city. This study of the city’s inherent dichotomies highlights the dynamic tensions of Rome today. A focus on the permanent aspects of Rome allowed students to recognize the given, historic fabric that has a global legacy in western culture as the historic infrastructure of Rome. The temporary recognizes the persistent construction demands on architecture and the need to accommodate changing demographics, population densities and temporary spatial requirements – all as events of brief duration and lighter weight construction that co-exist with the more permanent objects and spaces of the city.