1st Central-European Architectural Magazine for the Culture of the Environment

Renovation of the Piazza Sempione, Rome – Monte Sacro

Photo: Alberto Muciaccia

New Architecture / Piranesi 48/49

Renovation of the Piazza Sempione, Rome – Monte Sacro

Maurizio Bradaschia

Urban Carpet

by Uroš Rustja

In Rome’s Piazza Sempione, the Trieste-based architect Maurizio Bradaschia laid out an urban carpet that connects and balances the diversity of the surrounding buildings, but above all opens up the central public space of the square and rededicates it to urban life.

Photo: Alberto Muciaccia
Photo: Alberto Muciaccia

The Piazza Sempione is the central public space of the Roman quartiere, or quarter, of Monte Sacro, on the right bank of the River Aniene, right before it flows into the Tiber. The wide green belt along the Aniene has remained largely undeveloped and is therefore partly part of the Aniene Valley Nature Reserve and partly used for sports and park areas. This exceptional natural context led the planners of Rome’s urban development at the beginning of the 20th century to conceive the new part of Rome as a garden city, called La Città Giardino Aniene. In 1920, the Istituto Case Popolari (ICP), a state consortium in charge of the construction and urban development of Rome at the time, began to build neighbourhoods of suburban villas and accompanying public programmes for the accommodation of the employees of the state railways. The urban design was drawn up by the architect Gustavo Giovannoni (1873-1947), author of several urban renovations and designs for the Roman quarters. He was an enthusiastic follower of Ebenezer Howard’s contemporary urban planning ideas, which Howard presented in his 1902 book Garden Cities of Tomorrow.

Photo: Alberto Muciaccia

Giovannoni designed the garden city of Aniene as an independent urban core surrounded by nature. He was committed to living at the intersection between the vibrant Roman urbanity, interspersed with many layers of history, and the characteristics of a bright, green and airy garden city. In the new urban quarter at the foot of the Monte Sacro hill, he envisaged a low density of buildings, mostly detached suburban villas surrounded by gardens and communal green spaces. He adapted the roads and pedestrian routes to the topography with a non-orthogonal geometric grid, and preserved large publicly accessible green areas along the river, with individual archaeological fragments such as the remains of the Roman bridge of Ponte Nomentana. The public programmes of the quarter – the municipality, the cinema, the post office and the church – are concentrated at the end of the Via Nomentana, which, via the new Ponte Tazio and the Corsa Sempione, ends in the Piazza Sempione, the new centre of the quarter. The Via Nomentana is one of Rome’s ancient thoroughfares, running from the Porta Pia city gate to the northern hinterland of Rome. Giovannoni preserved its historic route over the old bridge, but redirected the axis of the throughfare to the Piazza Sampione, where he monumentally completed it with the staircase and façade of the 1920 Chiesa degli Angeli Custodi. He designed the church as a fusion of Renaissance and Baroque elements, and its raised entrance and concave façade with accentuated side pilasters are essential for the piazza itself.

Photo: Alberto Muciaccia

Project Data

Renovation of the Piazza Sempione, Rome – Monte Sacro, Italy

CoordinationMaurizio Bradaschia

Architectural projectMaurizio Bradaschia

CollaboratorsMassimiliano Modena, Stefano Bertacco

ClientRome, Municipio III – Monte Sacro

Property ofRome, Municipio III – Monte Sacro

Project ManagerAlessandro Rosati