REUSE THE ROMAN RUIN Piscina Mirabilis – Death and Rebirth


Enhancing the Campi Flegrei area also means recovering historical and mythical antecedents. Therefore we propose to put in order the sites of cultural interest overlooking the gulf by redesigning the plot of the myth offered by the reading of the Aeneid. Retrace the earthly steps of Aeneas is already possible, the Piscina Mirabilis gives us the opportunity to describe his otherworldly path, enriching the archaeological network with an experiential moment digging into the myth. In these lands according to the myth Aeneas, during the journey that takes him from the fall of Troy to the foundation of Rome he meets the Sibilla Cumana, the oracle in the temple of Apollo. In order to discovery his destiny she accompanies him on a descent and rise journey (death and rebirth) to the underworld. To access the world of the dead you need to cross the Acheron river and the nine turns of the Cogito. Here it is Charon who ferries them from the other side of the shore. Once inside they find a crossroads: on the left is Tartarus (the ancient hell), where Tisiphone reigns, a dark place where the souls of sinners go. Here is the huge iron tower surrounded by the river Flegetonte, which Aeneas sees from afar. On the right is the palace of Dite, the home of the king of the underworld from whose high throne controls everything. Behind the walls of Dite are the Elysian Fields (the ancient paradise), the logo of light in which Cronus, god of the golden age, reigns. This is the place where the souls of the blessed go. Here time stands still, in eternal Spring, and there is also a river called Lethe which makes the souls who enter it lose their memory before being reborn, reincarnating according to the process of metempsychosis. When he reaches the Elysian Fields, Aeneas meets his father who takes him to the top of a high hill from which he sees his past and future, and then accompanies him to the exit of the underworld. There are two doors to exit: one of true dreams is made of horn, the other of false dreams is made of ivory. Aeneas will pass through the ivory door, forgetting his journey into the world of the dead, but convinced to continue his journey into the world of the living. Which door will you choose?

The role of the Golden ratio
The analysis of the artifact showed that the Mirabilis swimming pool was built following golden proportions. In an attempt to find a guide for the organization of the exhibition and accessory spaces, in plan and elevation, we have established golden relationships between the parts, defining the new compositional structure. The coverage volume respects the proportional scheme.

Architectural design
In the Aeneid, the afterlife world is divided for the first time into two, underworld and Elysian fields.
Our valorization project of the Mirabilis Pool is based on this duality, earthly world and otherworldly, external and internal, descent and ascent, favoring installations that focus on the theme of the double and opposites. The functional spaces are organized in a volume in yellow tuff positioned above the cistern cover, resting on a framed structure that follows the structural mesh of the swimming pool, detaching itself from the existing structure.
Auditoriums, bookshops, offices, services and bars-restaurants are organized around a system of internal open courtyards, wells of light studied starting from the existing photometry. In the outdoor area of ​​the restaurant we find the only opening to the outside, a view that accompanies the gaze towards the gulf.
Certain of the architectural completeness of the building, we treat the interior only with a play of overlapping metal surfaces which, detaching themselves from the walking surface, create slight potentially floodable gradients, composed according to the golden rectangle rule. The first part of the project, in matt burnished metal, tells the story of Aeneas infernal journey. We find a thin tub of water at the landing of the stairs, referring to Acheron. In the second span we meet a tower of scaffolding pipes 5.70 m high, an allusion to the iron tower of Tartarus, a denunciation of the decadence and precariousness of modernity. This object is suitable for supporting devices for audio visual installations and is accessible to users on 3 levels. Along the perimeter we meet a seating system supporting the exhibition space. The central settling tank is used as a covered filter environment, suitable for sound installations. Leaving this environment, referring to the palace of Dite, we enter the second half of the intervention, the heavenly one. The metal flooring is made up of mirror-polished golden plates shaped in steps above the central nave for a total height of 3.70 m. This further game of differences in height gives an experience at different levels of the space inside the tank and acts as a support for set-ups and performances. The ninth span is occupied by a pendulum, a dodecahedron that is mirrored in a circular water tank, an allusion to time and the cycles of death and rebirth. The exit stairs are preceded by two portals, referring to the horn and ivory doors of the Virgilian myth.

YEAR: June 2020


OPPO:   Claudio Cassinelli

Leone Carpini

Martina Perini