Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Fasolo, Vincenzo


Fasolo, Vincenzo

This craving, this need to reveal oneself with ideas of one's own, always reflecting on ancient sources, this inventive excitement, leads the artist - the architect - to a uniqueness of conception that surpasses the limits, the restraints, that are willingly and lovingly accepted when one is inspired by antiquity. It seems to us that here, revealed with greater evidence, are the qualities of a creator of forms that goes beyond that of an interpreter of things studied. One needs to travel through the Piranesian city with patience.

"I am rather afraid that parts of the Campus which I describe should seem figments of my imagination and not based on any evidence: certainly if anyone compares them with the architectural theory of the ancients he will see that they differ greatly from it and are actually closer to the usage of our own times. But before anyone accuses me of falsehood, he should I beg, examine the ancient [Marble] plan of the city . . . he should examine the villas of Latium and that of Hadrian at Tivoli, the baths, the tombs and other ruins outside the Porta Capens and he will find that the ancients transgressed the strict rules of architecture just as much as the moderns. Perhaps it is inevitable and a general rule that the arts on reaching a peak should decline, or perhaps it is part of man's nature to demand some licience in creative expression as in other things which we sometimes criticise in buildings of out times."
--G.B.Piranesi from the dedication to Il Campo Marzio

In the following formal analysis, Fasolo lays heavy emphasis on triangular formations, which he sees as Piranesi's personal contribution to Roman architecture. The use of triangles within the Campo Marzio is not necessarily a design strategy that stems exclusively from Piranesi's own imagination, however. The existing physical conditions of the Campo Marzio and the other ancient sites Piranesi references are more likely the best guide to the design stategies used throughout the Ichnographia.

There we see the insistence of compositions based on the diagonal, on oblique lines and their intersection; intersections of lines and of curves: configurations based on the triangle, on the ellipse, and their combination and intermingling. This is not an imposition of criteria that can be traced back to the Roman grid iron. It is the novel contribution of an artist from a period which was artistically innovative and full of ferment.

This unusual geometry guides the re-creation of some zones of the built fabric. Sometimes the necessity to connect building masses and spaces intervenes; other times it is the spirit of invention that has the upper hand, or an intuition of the particular functions of the buildings or neighborhoods. This applies to the layout of the zone of the factory for making machines of war ("Officinae machinarum militarium") and the factory for making armor ("Officinae Armorum") at the extreme north of the plan: a complex which functions as an arsenal, surrounded by the spaces assigned to games and sports ("exercitationes ad cursum"), made up of circular plazas ("circulus"), ringed with statutes or tombs of famous men ("Statuae virorum illustrium"). It is a triangular and star-shaped system to which it is certainly not possible to find a comparison in classical typology.

Officinae machinarum militarium/Officinae Armorum surrounded by the circular plazas for sports of games

Horti Agrippinae and the stepped swimming area along the Tiber

A triangular complex of similar type is the Garden of Agrippina ("Horti Agrippinae"), which is in the eastern zone between the Janiculum-Vatican depression, and the edge of which laps into the Tiber as stairs with ornamental colonnades leading to a swimming area ("gradus natationis ad ornatum xisti").

The Gardens formerly of Pompey and thereafter of Marc Antony ("Horti prius pompeiani dein. Marci Antoni") are surrounded by arcades in a triangular scheme, and the Lucii game preserve ("Viridarium Lucii") is radially composed.

The compositional innovation manifests itself further with rich resources in the Burial Place of the Augustan family ("Bustum Caesaris Augusti") and the Gardens of Lucilian ("Horti Luciliani").

Horti prius Pompeiani dein. Marci Antoni - The Gardens fromerly of Pompey and thereafter of Marc Antony

Viridarium Lucii - The Lucii Game Preserve

The first joins the main Temple of Augustus ("Templum Manium Augustorum") with two basilicas; it is in the zone that corresponds to the heights of the Pincio Hill, bordering the zone of the Gardens of Salustian ("Horti Salustiani"). The second, adjacent to the first, having characteristics of a plan proper for its function as a villa, is all a game of round rooms that intertwine and link in diagonal directions. The triangular system is continued into the layout of the adjacent streets and the park annexes. The research does not exhaust itself, rather it renews itself in a continuous inventive relish. The triangular scheme again dominates the Gardens of Anteri ("Horti Anteri"), and also the group adjacent to the Circus of Flaminius, and is composed of the Portico of Octavius ("Porticus Octaviae"), which Piranesi sites correctly, forming the center of a public quarter; the building is in fact called a "Curia".

In various buildings we see other scattered irregularities: in places for military exercises and marching ("Exercitationes Militari"), and in the Portico of Nero ("Porticus Neronianae") made up of a circular central system with diagonals and radiants.

Bustum Caesaris Augusti - The Augustan Family Burial Place

Horti Luciliani - The Gardens of Lucilian

A curious solution, of a building theme inserted into a designed structure, is the "Villa L. Aruntii", situated in the center of the Campomarzio and whose oblong form correspondes topographically to the valley between the Quirinal and Pincio Hills.

If from these general lines (which we shall call, using a modern word, urbanistic) of the Piranesian Rome, that is, if from the various groupings which we have considered, we now descend to an architectural examination of the parts, the uniqueness of the figure of the architect, which we had proposed to identify, affirms itself all the more.

We find this richness of ideas in the monumental groupings: associations, unions, combinations of halls, of rooms, always more animated when the conditions of the warping of the axes, which we have identified above, become more geometrically complicated. The compositional fantasy is inexhaustible, and only for exemplification we will note some instances, isolating the elementary motive of the architectural complex.

A sinuous succession of semicircular halls in the Temple of Mars ("Templum Martis"); the circular wall niches of the Baths of Alexander Severus ("Therme di Alessandro Severo"); straight lines and semicircles around an elliptical hall in the Garden of Gata ("Horti Getae"); new and unusual star-shaped layouts in the nucleus of the "Officinae"; a radial system in the "Viridarium Lucii": a system of processional combinations and an interlacing of places, for example, the stadium for the Festival of Flora ("Ludus Florae") with the Quirini Portico ("Porticus Quirini") and the Portico of Imperial Civility ("Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dictata").

The area east of the Pincio Hill and north of the Horti Salustiani

Porticus Octaviae and Curia Octaviae - The Portico and Assembly Hall of Octavius

Templum Martii - The Temple of Mars

Porticus Quirini and the Ludus Florae - The Quirini Portico and the stadium for the Festival of Flora

Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dictata - Portico of Imperial Civility




Quondam © 2010.05.15