THE HOUSE FOR THE DRUID
Avanzi degl’Aquedotti Neroniani, Giovanni Battista Piranesi; Rome, Italy
International Competitions in Architecture [ICARCH] “15 Houses”
The site for the House is within an 18th century etching completed by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in his renowned series, “Veduti di Roma.” The program for the House was dictated by a competition brief chosen from the collections of ICARCH [International Competitions in Architecture]. After re-constructing Piranesi's perspective, the intervention was designed and retrofitted into the frame of view originally chosen by Piranesi.
The House for the Druid is a tomb.
Sited just beneath the ruins of the Aqueduct of Nero located outside Rome, the House is divided programmatically into two spaces, such that the articulable relationship between them transforms around the moment of interment: A room for living, and a room for dying. The room for living [left] is organized around a hearth located deep underground, and functions as a simple fire pit. A central stair winds upward through the rising smoke toward the open roof, where a passage connects it to the space for dying. So long as the fire burns, the smoke engulfing the stair will restrict access to the passage.
The space for dying [right] is fixed to the structure of the aqueduct and functions to collect what water still tends to drain through the open ruin overhead. Drainage is directed by an armature centrally into the space, where an open sarcophagus lies empty directly beneath. Due to the tilt and channeling cut into the base of the open sarcophagus, water pools and runs through access channels out to the east.
After the individual in question is interred in the House, the lid is placed on the sarcophagus, which is formed to redirect the flow of water leaking in from the ruins above. Now, the path of running water is altered as a result of the entombed and drains through the northward channels, through the passage, and slowly fills the hearth pit in the space for living. In this way, the hearth will eventually become submerged and its functional program will expire permanently. The fulcrum around which that irreversible shift in the building’s performance takes place is the act of sealing one inside the tomb itself.
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