Jury feedback summary
The second place entry for the Rome Concrete Poetry Hall stood apart in the competition for its interrogation of concrete beyond material and mass. The project exploits the monolithicity of concrete to reexamine the archetypical forms of the sphere and the spiral. Through a subversive topology, the project proposes an architecture that is radically interior.
In the isotropic vaulting of the underground sphere, a double-sided spiral twists continuously through the space, serving as both processional ramp and as a spatial structuring system. The labyrinthine path allows the users to fully occupy the volume of the sphere. The spiral striates the sphere into interlocking coils of space. There is a constant presence of each adjacent coil; its surface hangs heavily to form the vaults of each subsequent spiral, suggesting a continuous unfolding of hidden worlds as the user descends. Referencing the underworld of Dante, the project uses the procession of architectural space to evoke the obscured, the secret, and the inward.
Jury feedback summary
The success of the first place proposal for the Rome Concrete Poetry Hall is its complete denial of the architecture as object, fully accepting the subterranean nature of the project and opting instead to create space through subtractions and boolean operations beneath the plaza. The project lays bare the site, revealing only a composition of rectilinear cuts and a circular hole in the ground. The visitor descends a ramp into one of these cuts, initiating a complex sectional procession through a series of vaulted volumes and auxiliary spaces, culminating at its deepest point in a large domed assembly hall. This composition of pure spatial typologies – the promenade, the vault, and the dome – are analyzed and deployed to frame the terrestrial plane, instead of the celestial sphere. Through this act of burial, these familiar architectural forms are transformed, creating an abstract mirror beneath the streets of the city.
The architectural achievement of the project lies in its sacrifice of light in favor of shadow, revealing the dimensions of depth through a single oculus at the apex of the dome. This aperture re-registers the visitor’s relationship to the ground above and allows light to track and diffuse, like a subterranean Pantheon, across its smooth concrete interior. The abstracted sanctuary serves to free artistic production from the constraints of the architectural object, creating a contemporary crypt enabling the birth and death of the word and the act.