Preparation of the station of S. Giovanni: an example of the integration of infrastructure and historical sites.
Preparation of the station of S. Giovanni. An example of the integration of infrastructure and historical sites.
How does one interpret the theme of the interior design of a station, like that of S. Giovanni, which during the excavation work unearthed a vast amount of archaeological material, products of the myriad of surrounding historical sites?
How does one give these findings a significant role and place within a space which is not a museum but a metropolitan line station; a space in which naturally the functional aspects of the working station are of the most importance?
We asked ourselves at great length which would be the best way to tackle this and we came up with the idea of starting with the concept of ‘spatial invasion’. An idea of re-defining the interior space to allow the exhibition of the extraordinary and rich history the excavation work had brought to light.
The metropolitan line stations are part of complex infrastructural systems designed to serve the city and its’ inhabitants. For us the challenge was in the transformation of the interior surroundings of the station from being a simple functional space into being real and proper “places” of the city, giving it an identity and character of its own. To recreate and represent the history of the places surrounding the station and the activities which actually took place in the area of the station itself, using the material evidence left behind, seemed the most effective way of doing this.
This operation was undertaken with the aim of rendering a “single large polyphonic space”, to create a ‘multi-voiced choir’, different in tone and timbre but united in the attempt to show and narrate the complexities of the subterranean infrastructures of Rome and of this place in particular.
Illustrating the rich stratigraphy of this city through atmospheric space.
The instruments used for the physical construction of the telling of this story were the liminal surfaces themselves: the walls, floors and ceilings. The first two are the main devices used for this communication, creating four “voices” to represent the polyphony of the final narrative.
The first of these narrative “voices”, which defines the space of the station, was executed in the form of the “stratigraphy”, a stratigraphical representation lining the walls which is used repeatedly throughout the station allowing the passengers and visitors to experience the passage of time and descent through history on their way to and from the platforms. Thanks to its function as a graphic indicator of historical contexts in relation to the contemporary city above ground, the stratigraphy aids the station users to understand and adapt to the different historical phases they pass through.
The second narrative “voice” is that of the photographic images. Pictures of some of the material traces of life, remnants from hundreds of years ago, recovered during the construction of the station, have become iconic representations of the particular time in history in which they are strategically placed. Shown in large scale pictures of different historical phases, the variations in chromatic tones illustrate the era they belong to.
A third “voice” in the tale of the stations’ development is in the form of the written word. A series of texts accompany and comment on the chronological stratigraphy displayed on vertical panels and are written in two different registers:
-the first points to some of the events that have affected the infrastructural changes of the city throughout history or which have affected some significant historical and social transitions
-the second, and more topical, is focused on the transformation of the area, in particular the changes incurred by the management of the large quantity of water found that has always been present in this area and which has significantly affected the landscape design over the centuries.
Finally the fourth “voice” of the polyphonic choir is represented by the archaeological findings exhibited in the horizontal glass panelled display cabinets, which line the walls from ceiling to corresponding floor. Iron sheets seemed the most suitable material to use as background material for the exhibits with various other ostensive devices used to highlight and strengthen the communicative capacity of each piece.
The heterogeneity of the materials has allowed us to identify and categorise various themes in history to provide the metropolitan users with a key to understanding their meaning and recognizing their value. To do this each specific area has been labelled with a title that suggests a possible story; The Recycled Findings, The Fragments Tell, The Enigma of the Stamp, Living With Water, The Arrival of the Peaches.
Therefore the crossing through the spaces of the S. Giovanni station of line C will not only be a functional one of going from one place to another but will be a real journey inside a micro millennial history, the micro history of this small piece of the city.
Arch. Andrea Grimaldi e Arch. Filippo Lambertucci