ARCH 499C Roman Cartography as Imago Urbis

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Architecture or Landscape Architecture majors or permission of instructor

Course Description

Unlike most cities founded by the ancient Romans, the city of Rome did not follow a predetermined plan. The city grew organically along a number of pre-Roman country pathways which converged upon the site that was to become the city center, the Roman Forum. A significant number of these radial paths still exist, at least in part, in the complex network of city streets. In Medieval and Renaissance

times other routes through the city developed, partly using the ancient paths and partly creating new traces. After 1870, when Rome became the capital city of newly unified Italy, a new layer of wide boulevards was superimposed upon the urban network of streets.

The purpose of this course is to explore the development of the city from ancient to modern times, paying particular attention to the evolving morphology of the city and its shifting focal points. The principal means for this study will be the wide range of historic maps with which Rome is particularly well endowed, starting with the third century Forma Urbis and terminating with the modern master plans. Emphasis will be given to the changing perceptions of the city, as evidenced by the form and representational techniques of the maps themselves.

Students will be expected to analyze the city through manipulation of these maps and the preparation of a series a series of figural analyses of their own based upon the pathway through the city which will be followed each week. Buildings along these walks will be treated not as isolated monuments, but as an integral part of the dialog between urban space and architecture.

Course Method

The course is organized about an alternating series of lectures and walks. The lectures are chronological in the sense that maps from sequential periods will be examined and worked upon. Each lecture will also prepare for the following walk. A manual, comprising most of the necessary maps or map details, will be supplied to each student. This will become the basic “text” for the course, though a bibliography to encourage further reading is included in the manual.

Lectures will generally be made up of two or three parts:

a) discussion of the maps of a particular period, and

b) discussion of a selected pathway through the city

c) group manipulation of the maps themselves on copies of which each student will attempt to trace the pathway discussed in (b)

A walk along the pathway discussed in class will follow each lecture. Since walks and lectures are complementary, students will be required to attend both. Attendance will be taken and will count.

Students will be expected to submit either a route map of each pathway followed in class or an alternate assignment within 24 hours of the walk. A final route map of a personally selected route will be due a week before the final review.

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