• Full Screen
  • Wide Screen
  • Narrow Screen
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Hannes Frykholm, Imperial thresholds: an architectural inventory of the gates in the Aurelian Wall

Where is the spatial boundary between a city and its surroundings? Today, it seems such a distinction is harder than ever to make. The fringes of the city are gradually dissolving, giving way to a continuous collage of industrial zones, suburbs and infrastructure. It is a great paradox that this evaporation of the city’s edge is paralleled with a growing demand for boundaries on a territorial level. In a time of geopolitical turbulence, the notion of the border has gained importance in the political rhetoric of populist movements, as well as becoming a symbol of global economic injustice. As part of the need for low-paid and mobile labor power, the territorial border of the present-day empire is a socio-economic membrane which lets through some, while excluding others (Hardt & Negri, 2000; Mezzadra & Neilson, 2013). At the center of this paradox is the return of the object that has been visually abolished from the city; the wall.

This project considers the effect of a historical border wall integrated into a present-day city. The Aurelian wall was completed in 275 AD to protect the imperial capital of Rome from invasions and plundering. As a hybrid of architecture and infrastructure, the wall is a continuous structure that today form a border inside the city. At the time of its completion the wall was a 19-km long structure, up to 10-meter-high with 19 gates connecting to the outside. Of the gates remaining today, some are conspicuous architectural objects with designed facades and details, others are rudimentary and unnoticed openings between different parts of the city (Dey, 2011). In their different locations and form, the gates are central parts of the morphology of Rome over long time (Rossi, 1984).

This research project investigates the ways in which the contemporary city of Rome has appropriated and interiorized the Aurelian wall and its gates. The purpose with the project is firstly to map the formal intersection between the remaining gates and more recent parts of the built environment: How are the gates integrated into the physical structure of the city? Secondly, the project wants to investigate the impact of gates on the spaces they connect: What effect do the gates have on the experience of moving through the city? Are they still borders of a kind, interiorized as a set of mental and affective thresholds between different parts of the city? With these two investigative themes, the project wants to contribute to a larger and projective debate on the role of gates, thresholds and entrances in the city. Such elements cannot be reduced to instruments for exclusion and control, but must be studied as architectural objects that produce subjectivity and affect; offering distinctions against the continuous collage of urbanity that dominates our present-day empire.”

Hannes Frykholm
Arkitekt SAR/MSA
PhD Candidate at KTH School of Architecture

Institutet på facebook

Urbis är online!

Svenska Rominstitutets Vänner

The Valle Giulia Dialogues

You are here: