Osservo

2013
Thematic Rooms Exercise

University Of Waterloo
To see or to be seen; spectatorship inverts on its head this pavilion set in the heart of Rome

The project brief instructed the design of a viewing pavilion, set in the heart of Rome. The project gave free reign to any location within the city. A small piece of greenery along the Via Celio Vibenna became the chosen site. To observe is the pavilion’s intention; the relationship between the subject and observer become blurred with this design.

The pavilion is near Parco del Celio, just south of the Coliseum and Arch of Constantine. The direction of its gaze, however, deliberately cleaves between the two landmarks. This creates a tension between the historic sites, as if unable to focus its gaze on either. Such an indecisive shift then inverts the gaze back onto Osservo as an object sitting in the midst of history.

Osservo is a one-way progression. One enters through the lowered level of the street and ascends in darkness before reaching its apex. The highlighted chamber has a concentrated aperture towards the historic view, but transforms those observers into the observed.

Upon entry, darkness cloaks visitors. Illuminated by a series of thin slits, the light directs inward, toward the upward path. They progress forward into the next chamber.

Further, into the next space, illuminated slits transform into reveals, washing the textured boardform with light. The chamber remains dark, but its lighting lifts the experience upward.

Eventually, the staircases continue to rise, and apertures widen, broadening the amount of light into the architecture. Soon, the main altar reveals itself containing the view towards the Piazza del Colosseo. However, a giant mirror suspends over the space, projecting observing visitors in plan, reflecting them and transforming them into subjects of a dance. Outward, those standing between the landmarks look onto Osservo, intrigued by the solid mass of concrete sitting atop a mound in the midst of Historic Rome.

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© Dennis Tang 2017