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

Fredrik Torisson

Roma Termini Reframed (RTR)

In his short essay “Rom: Eine äestetische Analyse” originally published in Die Zeit 1898, sociologist Georg Simmel focuses on Rome, and more precisely on the relationship between the singular historical object and the unintentional but nevertheless fantastic whole in which every historical object is inscribed into. Simmel notes that the focus on each historical object promotes an understanding of the whole as the sum of its parts. As a result, the whole becomes overlooked as something other than the sum of its parts. This, according to Simmel is highly problematic: it produces a comprehension of the body as the sum of its anatomical parts together making up life, without considering the relation between the parts or their interplay.

RTR departs from Simmel’s observations and will attempt to develop an understanding for precisely this whole in relation to a specific but highly complex edifice: Roma Termini. This is a building often atomized into its distinctive and sometimes contradictory parts, a building that, as a whole, has grown over time and which, just like Rome in Simmel’s view, is regularly viewed as a collection of parts rather than accounting for the functional whole. The question underpinning the study can be formulated as follows: How can we understand Roma Termini as a composite whole?

The proposed project will be discussing Roma Termini as a whole and parts. Simmel’s observations form the basis for the project, but in order to develop the question, I will relate to the theories of the French philosopher Gilbert Simondon, who has written extensively on parts and wholes, and his philosophy appears highly promising in relation to the project. Of particular interest is Simondon’s thought around the relations and of the whole as something other than the sum of something’s parts.

The whole is here understood, as Canadian philosopher Brian Massumi puts it with reference to Simondon, not as the parts, but alongside them, or in addition to them. It is here not considered a hylomorphic whole, but rather understood in terms of effects.   The parts in relation and interplay produce effects that may be considered different from the sum of the parts. Simondon’s notion of an “operational solidarity” between the parts here becomes central to the analysis of Roma Termini as a whole.

The hypothesis of the project is that something is lost if we understand Roma Termini predominantly as a series of instances from architectural history, and that the analysis of the station complex as a functional whole may provide a different perspective and different knowledge.







Massumi, Brian. "“Technical Mentality" Revisited: Brian Massumi on Gilbert Simondon." By Arne De Boever, Alex Murray and Jon Roffe. Parrhesia, no. 7 (2009).

Institutet på facebook

Urbis är online!

Svenska Rominstitutets Vänner

The Valle Giulia Dialogues

You are here: