Tag Archives: rome

New BRT under construction in Rome

Wandering around the web, I discovered today a good news from Rome: A brand new BRT opening in the south-east of the city. The new infrastructure will start from ANAGNINA subway station and extend further east, passing through Cinecittà Est and Tor Vergata. All details of this infrastructure are here (PDF).


(image: Roma Metropolitane)

Almost all the line will run along a highway, with the exception of the first kilometer, along Via Ciamarra. In this first kilometer, some interesting interventions will be made.






(source photos: skyscrapercity)

Thanks to this intervention, a previously anonymous road turned into a sort of Spanish Rambla.

Will it become a new center for outdor activities, like similar projects in San Francisco or New York?

We’ll see. In the meantime you can give your opinion in the poll:

Refurbishing the 60’s masterpieces: two examples from Rome


The city within a building – Mario Fiorentino

In the last 50 years, we have built a massive amount of buildings, experimenting techniques and philosophies as never before. Reinforced concrete, cheap energy and cars allowed us a freedom to build that we never experienced before.

Now, many of the ideas behind them look outdated, and the building themselves are approaching the end of their lifecycle, and , so, deciding of their future will be one of the main challenges architects will face in the next years.

  • What shall we do with buildings that are growing old, need a massive renovation, but are a strong part of our heritage? Shall we save them as they are, adapt them to our comntemporary exigences, or admit they are too old and too expensive to be restore, and tear everything down?
  • In 50 years, will we regret our choices concerning the 50-years old buildings we decided to destroy, to keep or to renovate?
  • When we build our contemporary building, how shall we consider their future?

Let’s start with an example: La Rinascente in .

La rinascente

(photo: skyscrapercity)

Architects: Franco Albini/Franca Helg
Client: La Rinascente
Location: Rome, Italy
Project year: 1957-1961

(video: Fjfm)

La Rinascente is considered as one of the Italian Modernism’s masterpieces. Located in a strategic place, just outside the historic town, La Rinascente imitates the classical decoration of the surrounding buildings using a steel-framed structure. Every element of classical architecture is recreated in steel, and has a specific role in the building structure: the horizontal beams become trigliphs, the vertical beams columns and capitals, and the maintenance rails become the building’s main frieze. The space between columns is filled with precast concrete panels, featuring a white-and-red, waved texture.

La Rinascente is a masterpiece whose preservation will be problematic in the near future. Conceived in a period in which energy was cheap and environment was not a major concern, the building depends heavily on artificial lighting and air conditioned, and has almost no windows. Adapting it to current energy standards implies a massive refurbishment, and will hardly be possible without providing sources of natural lighting, opening windows on the façade and changing some of the features of the building.

Let’s go on with another example, still in Rome, but this time in the suburbs: Corviale.

(photo: flickr)

Architect: Mario Fiorentino
Client: IACP (social housing institute)
Location: Rome, Italy
Project year: 1972-1982


(image: flickr)

(image: flickr)

Promoted as “The city within a building”, Corviale takes the principles of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, and reunites all of them into a, 11-storey, 1-km long single building, hosting 1200 apartments and 6000 people. 5 main stairways allow people to enter the building, and a secondary network of stairs and walkways spread throughout the entire building. The 4th floor was reserved to shops, offices and small business, allowing the community to be entirely self-sufficient. All apartments would enjoy an optimal solar lighting, and an amazing view over the city of Rome.

To further show the experimental tone of the intervention, a special signage was commissioned, as well as 5 sculptures, to be positioned in front of the 5 main entrances.

(video: Fjfm)

Even though the architects had full freedom, and even if the building had an enthousiastic review from both public authorities and the press, it turned into a complete failure: the 4th floor was never able to attract shops and business, and little by little got squatted, turning into a “flying favela”.

The other floor had a similar destiny: given to low-income families, they became a big ghetto, and now the entire building is considered as “The symbol of a failed utopia”.

All along the years, lots of different programs have been established in order to improve the inhabitants’ lifestyle: shopping centers all around the main building, schools and sport facilities, and an animation program, including a street TV and an incubator for young entrepreneurs. Some programs shave succeeded, some others have failed, but none of them has been able to turn Corviale into an appealing place to visit and live.

And, 30 years later, concrete is starting to crack.

(this post was originally published on ArchDaily.com)

The future of automobile infrastructure: Antonio Segni Bridge, Rome

Usually, a highway is a mono-functional road, designed to carry cars from one place to another at a maximum speed.  But, sometimes highways don’t carry so many cars as expected,  and other uses start to appear.

An example of the re-use of highways was the Antonio Segni Bridge in Northern Rome, the east-west road in the photo here below.


(image: microsoft virtual earth)

Designed to be part of the Milan-Naples highway, the Antonio Segni Bridge has survived as an isolated stretch when the motorway was re-routed on a more external path. Closed to traffic for almost ten years, it has become the favorite place for pedestrians and cyclists’ sunday strolls. When it was opened to motorized traffic, few cars passed on the Bridge, and pedestrian and cyclists still continued to use its sidewalks as a shortcut to reach otherwise far neighborhoods.

Some improvement could be made in order to make the bridge a more interesting place:

  • wider sidewalks and zebra crossings.
  • more pedestrian connections to nearby neighborhood.
  • a landscaped median.

Here is a similar example, from Minneapolis:

video: streetsblog.org

Paris RER E vs. Rome Metro B: same spaces, different comfort

Following a discussion about Rome Metro, I found a comapraison between Rome B line and Washington Metro. According to different surveys, Rome Metro is considered one of the most unwelcoming ones: in order to change its perception, lots of long and expensive plans are currently going to improve comfort (see here and here). Anyway, some cheaper and easier interventions could improve passengers’ comfort with less time and less money.

Let’s look for example at Paris RER E.

The current terminus, Haussmann-Saint Lazare:

The following station, Magenta:

And now, let’s look at Rome metro, Line B, Station “Termini”:

Paris RER and rome Metro’s architecture are basically the same: a big vaulted space, including both directions’s track and platform, and smaller vaulted spaces, hosting escalators. Anyway, small differences change dramatically the place’s perception:

  • Paris RER uses strong and warm lights, which are able to give a feeling of “home”, while Rome Metro uses standard neons, which give a general sense of coldness
  • Paris RER integrates station names into the station’s architecture, while Rome Metro uses standard signs in every stations
  • Paris RER integrates different materials in a global design, while in Rome Metro each intervention follows its own concept without integrating with the rest of the environment.

An intervention on Rome Metro could include:

  • A new lighting concept, which would emphatize the architectural structure of the station,
  • New floor and wall tiles,
  • A new lettering and signage concept.

(source of all images: wikipedia)

bike sharing grows more and more

Some days ago I was wariting about bike sharing in Lausanne. Now, things are evolving fastly, and more and more cities are implementing a bike sharing program.

so, let’s make a list of bike sharing services all over the world:






New York





Tulsa (Oklahoma)


informations about other cities are more than welcome!

updates will appear on the dedicated page.

(sources: roma pedala, streetsblog)

Retrofitting urban sprawl: Learning from Monte Sacro

As gas prices rise, lots of people are wondering what will be the future of suburbia. Will it be able to recycle itself into more dense and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods, or will it decay and turn into XXI century slums? A visit of Monte Sacro (Rome, italy) can be useful.

In the 20’s Monte Sacro was the typical streetcar suburb: a group of single family houses clustered around a main square, where the only multi-stores, mixed uses were, and where the tramway stop was. All around, only countryside and farmland. Then the city arrived all around, and Monte Sacro found itself as a center of a town of 200.000 inhabitants. Little by little, some single-family houses were torn down or retrofitted as multi-family houses, and the density has increased to the average of a downtown.

(sources: Reconnecting America, Dover Kohl, The Atlantic, Newgrounds)

Roma – Pantano: it’s gone!

It’s gone! From yesterday morning, the outer part of Roma-Pantano Light Rail is closed.

To remember the line and its history, here are some videos of the rolling stock, passing in Porta Maggiore, the only transfer station of the line.

(source: tramvetti.blogspot.com)

Casilina Express

When I’m asked about Rome, people often are surprised of how much my description of the city differs from the traditional image portrayed by tourist guides and postcards. They don’t know that behind the famous Ethernal City lies another town, maybe less scenic, but still very interesting. One of the landmark of this hidden Rome was the Roma Pantano Light Rail, as described in “Casilina Express”, a movie by Tommaso Valente.

“A small metropolitan train line that links the outskirts of Rome with the city centre seen through the eyes and the everyday life of the railwaymen who struggle to keep a service to the public guaranteed. By sideways looks, everyday micro-stories and personal memories, the film tells of the transformation of the edge of the city and the encroachment of the metropolis that has gobbled up local identities. The little railway, with all its obsolescence and maintenance difficulties, is the narrative thread by which the film outlines the landscape at the city’s outskirts, with its laid back rhythm and its entrancing blend of old and new fashioned ways, casting a glance both light and melancholy into memory to seek evocative reminiscences.”

(source: Tommasovalente.it)

Roma-Pantano light rail extension closes again

(image: wikipedia)

On july 7, 2008, the newly-reopen stretch of the Roma-Pantano light rail will close again after two years of operation. (official news here and here)

Once part of an extensive network covering all the eastern part of Lazio (including the towns of Frascati, Palestrina, Fiuggi, Alatri and Frosinone), Roma-Pantano light rail had heavily suffered from cars-oriented planning choices since 1950, when the inner terminal was moved from Rome’s Central Station to Via Giolitti, an area lacking connection to other means of transport. Between 1945 and 1983, several stretches and branches have been closed, both within the city and out of town.

Some hopes about a renaissance of the line came in the 90’s, when a renovation plan for the line was made. Following the examples of french and german pre-métro, the outer part of the line was upgraded, with new bridges and tunnels and metro-like stations. Renovation works lasted from 1996 to 2006, and during that time, a substitution service by bus was implemented. Now, works for the new metro line C will require the newly-rebuilt part to be closed until 2012.

(all photos from here on are courtesy of BiagPal)

The inner terminal of Roma-Pantano light rail. Vittorio Emanuele subway station is 100 m on the right, while Termini Railway station is 800 m backwards. At the moment, there is no project to move this terminal and improve its connection with the rest of the rail network.

A section in the inner part of the line, refurbished in the 90’s

Centocelle station, refurbished in the 70’s. This station sums most of the results of poor planning choices related to this line:

– The station is in the middle of a busy road, and is accessible only via an underpass. Lack of police control in the underpass, and the low traffic in this station make the access particularly unsafe.

– Behind the station lies the dismissed Centocelle airport. This area could have been used to implement a transit-oriented development, butfinally has been developped into a park. The park is now mostly unused and a big part of it has been squatted.

The old Centocelle station, now used as for recovery and maintenance.

An abandoned branch, just after Centocelle station.

The new terminal. From here on, the line will be closed and replaced by the new Metro.

A train passes near Metro construction works

Torrenova station, which will be probably demolished.

A train approaching Pantano terminal

Some more images of Pantano Terminal.