It rocked Eisenman on his chair...
"Equally, the Campo Marzio would not function as an urban entity. There are no streets as such; rather, the ground is filled with what can be called interstitial figures."
Peter Eisenman, "Notations of Affect. An Architecture of Memory" in Pathos, Affect, Gefühl (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2004), pp.504-11.
"The level plain of the campus Martius was particularly well adapted to this characteristic form of Roman architecture—the porticus—which conformed to a general model, while varying in proportions and details. The porticus consisted of a covered colonnade, formed by two or more rows of columns, or a wall on one side and columns on the other. lts chief purpose was to provide a place for walking and lounging which should be sheltered from storm and sun, and for this reason the intercolumnar spaces were sometimes filled with glass or hedges of box. Within the porticoes or in apartments connected closely with them, were collections of statuary, paintings, and works of art of all kinds, as well as shops and bazaars. In some cases the porticus took its name from some famous statue or painting, as the porticus Argonautarum.
While the erection of the first porticus in the campus Martius dates from the early part of the second century B.C., the period of rapid development in their numbers and use did not begin until the Augustan era. The earliest of these structures seem to have been devoted exclusively to business purposes. By the time of the Antonines, there were upwards of a dozen in region IX, some of them of great size, and it was possible to walk from the forum of Trajan to the pons Aelius under a continuous shelter. They were usually magnificently decorated and embellished, and provided with beautiful gardens.
Samuel Ball Platner, The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome (1904).
Although written over 140 years after the Ichnographia Campus Martius, Platner's text nonetheless describes perfectly Piranesi's delineation, particulary between the forum of Trajan and the pons Aelius. Indeed, the porticus is the most abundant building type throughout the Ichnographia Campus Martius.
[Read 2226 last Autumn. The most satisfying novel I've read in quite some time. The experience somewhat reminded me of reading Joseph and His Brothers in 1982. Bolano's rendition (in part four) of the disintegration of the eastern front at the end of WWII was uncannily similar to how my father described that situation to me as we were driving through (what is now part of) Poland, in May 1990, back to his family farm which was confiscated by Russians sometime early Spring 1945.]
Since last Thursday, I'm reading Pier Vittorio Aureli's forthcoming (probably March 2011) The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture. Quite by chance, if not indeed by accident, I'm in possession of a proof copy released for review December 2010. So far I've read the chapter on Piranesi, "Instauratio Urbis: Piranesi's Campo Marzio versus Nolli's Pianta di Roma" (twice), and the chapter on Boullée, "Architecture as a State of Exception: Étienne-Louis Boullée's Project for a Metropolis". When I first found the book available, I had no idea as to its contents. Needless to say, however, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find a whole chapter devoted (at least in name) to Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius. Alas, Aureli doesn't really say much about the Ichnographia itself, at least nothing that Peter Eisenman hasn't already said1. In fact, Aureli has written what amounts to something like an apologia for Eisenman's notion that the Ichnographia must be viewed in opposition to Nolli's plan of Rome and thus represents architecture as autonomous. Strange though, however, that while Eisenman is [re]cited virtually verbatim, there is no direct reference to Eisenman within the text or the notes--although, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture is part of the Writing Architecture series which is a project of the Anyone Corporation.
[Here's where I will relate pages 54-62 of Eco's The Limits of Interpretation.]
[The Scenograpia shows all that's left of ancient Rome within the Campo Marzio, and the Ichnographia shows us 1000 years of ancient Rome's Campus Martius all at the same time.]
After finishing Instrauratio Urbis a second time this morning, I then got out Bufalini'a map again, and made another discovery--the 'O' of ROMA along the top of Bufalini's map corresponds with Piranesi's placement of the spiraling oval of the Naumachia Domitiani. Piranesi is probably laughing right now.
Regarding Boullée, it is unfortunate that Aureli does not relate Boullée's architecture back to Piranesi's architecture of the Campo Marzio, especially in terms of planning and gigantism.
1. "The Campo Marzio is a utopian preojection of the city devoid of the attributes of urbanity so emphasized by the Nolli maps--the hierarchy of spaces, circulation, and built fabic. Piranesi reinvented Rome as a city without streets." p.137