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Reshaping Rome’s riverfront: the development of urban spaces along the east bank of the Tiber from the 16th to the early 18th century

Karydis, Nikolaos (2014) Reshaping Rome’s riverfront: the development of urban spaces along the east bank of the Tiber from the 16th to the early 18th century. In: Riverine Conference, 26-28 June 2014, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:59656)

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The urban development of Rome during the Renaissance and the Baroque period had a major influence on the relationship between the city and the river. One of the most important aspects of this development was the radical modification of a series of urban spaces on the east riverbank of the Tiber. This involved the creation, mostly following Papal initiatives, of a series of large squares directly connected with the river, and associated with major bridges and ports. These riverside spaces seem to have played an important role as nodes in Rome’s urban tissue. Indeed, they were lined with major new public buildings and formed the focal points of newly created streets. The latter connected the new riverfront with the major sites of the city.

In spite of its importance, the development of these riverside squares has not been sufficiently investigated, and, as a result, their role in shaping the ‘image’ of Baroque Rome has been overlooked. The general studies devoted to the urban interventions of the Popes, like the ones of A. Ceen (1977), Ch. L. Frommel (1986), and G. Simoncini (2008), occasionally refer to fragments of the city’s riverfront, but fail to address the combined impact of the riverside squares on the relationship between city and river. More detailed studies, such as the one of H. Günther (1984), provide information about the history and phases of certain riverside squares, but seldom analyse their spatial characteristics in detail. One of the reasons for this is that none of these spaces survives today: all of them were sacrificed during the construction of the Lungotevere, the new embankment built between 1876 and 1926. Although a variety of written records, drawings, and engravings provide ample evidence for the form of the ‘lost’ squares, the potential of these resources as evidence for graphic reconstruction has not yet been fully evaluated. As long as our understanding of the original form and evolution of these squares remains incomplete it is very difficult to understand the design ideals that influenced the development of Rome’s riverfront during the High Renaissance and the Baroque periods.

This paper seeks to fill this lacuna. Synthesising all the available evidence in our disposal, the paper will provide new graphic reconstructions of three major riverside spaces: Piazza S. Francesco, at the south end of Via Giulia, Piazza Ponte, opposite Castel S. Angelo, and the Ripetta Port. These spaces will be visualised in different stages of their development. The reconstructed square layouts will form the basis for the interpretation of the design strategies employed. Grounded by reference to contemporary theories of town-planning, this multifaceted study of Rome’s riverfront will provide interesting insights into the evolution of urban design concepts and their influence on the relationship between city and river from the 16th to the 17th century.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: Rome, Ripa Grande, Ripetta, River Ports, Embarkation Points, Tiber, Riverfront Development
Subjects: N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Nikolaos Karydis
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2016 22:24 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Karydis, Nikolaos:
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