A Picture at An Exhibition 

Reuse the Roma Ruin Competition, Italy
Collaboration With: James Jiang, Mingzhe Xu, Pengju Hou, Ji Qi, Long Pan, Ji Qi
Spring 2020

Piscina Mirabilis is an ancient Roman cistern partially exhumed on a hillside in Bacoli, facing the Bay of Naples. As the surrounding urban environment is developed the cistern is at risk of fading into oblivion. Yet the cistern, surviving centuries of urban development, is no mere abandoned architecture to be remodeled into a new one; it is a precious ancient artifact which represents the cultural history of the city and its region. Therefore, our proposal for a museum at this site treats the Piscina Mirabilis not as a building, but as an art object itself on display: a museum exhibit containing a museum. The northeast side of the cistern is exhumed and the entire cistern is preserved by, and presented in full within, a glass façade. Wandering vertical circulation and exhibition areas within the cistern allow visitors to experience the cistern space from multiple heights and perspectives. The new gallery and social space on the roof afford a contemporary experience and views of the surroundings. This design immerses visitors in the history and art of the ancient cistern, and connects visitors to the surrounding environment, and the urban future.

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Piscina Mirabilis is in the Municipality of Bacoli, close to Lake Miseno (the ancient Misenum), over a hill which faces the Bay of Naples. It was realized during the Augustan Age. During the war with Pompeius, in fact, the son of Caesar ordered the construction of a harbour complex in the west side of Puteoli (Pozzuoli), named Portus Julius, which became the headquarter of the western Mediterranean war fleet. In order to feed
with water the militar base, Augustus decided to build an aqueduct from the Serino mountain to the Lake Miseno, which had, as terminal point of the path, a reservoir, today well known as Piscina Mirabilis.
For more informations, refer to the “Historical Report”.
(from: “The greatest water reservoirs in the ancient Roman world and the “Piscina Mirabilis” in Misenum, by G. De Feo, S. De Gisi, C. Malvano and O. De Biase)

Program Requirement

- The participant must conceive the entire cistern as a new
museum, a space dedicated to temporary exhibitions of contemporary
art. The museum design must include an accurate
exhibition path to let the visitor experience the cistern space.
- The participant must design a bookshop at the end of the
museum exhibition path.
- The participant must design an area for bar/restaurant for the visitors.
- The participant must design a conference space for approximately
80 people. These spaces must be usable both in winter
and in summer. In the conference space, please, consider no less than 1,5 square meters per person.
- The participant must design a reception area.
- The participant must design the following additional spaces:
1) storage spaces
2) restrooms (2m+2f)
3) an office for the administration (3 people)
- The participant must conceive a project that yields the perception of the cistern space at diverse elevations.