Matthias A. Peterseim

This site shows things I do or think concerning the wide-ranging subject of architecture.

"Now let us, by a flight of imagination, suppose that Rome is not a human habitation but a psychical entity with a similarly long and copious past—an entity, that is to say, in which nothing that has once come into existence will have passed away and all the earlier phases of development continue to exist alongside the latest one.”

— Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Forma Urbis Romae —
A New Fragment to Rome’s Urban Fabric, 2020

Short description:
Integration of a new key element in the fabric of the great archeologic park of the sites Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Imperial Fora and Colosseum (Parco Archeologico del Colosseo). Based on the majestic marble map "Forma Urbis Romae" (13x18m), on which during Septimius Severus reign (around 203 a.D.) the complete ground floor plan of the ancient city was incised, the new Museo della Forma Urbis addresses the urban history from antiquity to our time. It grants visitors an overview of the complex fabric of different epochs that blend together in the Roman cityscape. The already intense, sensory experience of Rome is therefore extended by spacial and historic knowledge which can lead to a deeper, profound understanding while experiencing the artifacts of the "eternal city".
In this project, the marble map Forma Urbis is reconstructed according to the preserved fragments and further archaeological data at its original place at the Foro della Pace, which now lies under  the Via dei Fori Imperiali next to the Basilica of Maxentius and the convent SS. Cosma e Damiano. A public Loggia on the opposite side of the map integrates this important historical document into the urban landscape. It recalls the many public buildings that characterise Roman urban spaces. A new square (piazza) spans between the Museum, the Loggia, the Basilica of Maxentius, the map and the convent SS. Cosma e Damiano. It is slightly elevated and reinterprets roman urban morphologies.
The museum consists of a closed core and a circulating covered walkway, that integrates the cityscape like an exhibit allowing visitors to seamlessly compare the inner exhibition contents with the actual urban fabric. Along this walkway, various halls with differentiated media and therefore lighting conditions contrast like pauses in the overall upward movement of the visit: From dark halls, like the cinema and a VR-space, to a skylit hall with analog media up to the roof garden, which exhibits antique marble originals under Roman daylight. The Museo della Forma Urbis might act as a starting point of an extensive tour around the archeological sites or may be visited on the way between Roman Forum and the Imperial Fora. Architecturally, the plastically articulated bodies of the ensemble mediate between contemporary spacial gestures and the classic surrounding of the monumental, historically meaningful site.

Master’s Thesis at Technical University Munich
Chair for Architectural Design and Conception
Prof. Uta Graff

I/ Introduction to the project

Experiencing Rome

Rome, the „eternal city“ – this title is not only a reference to Rome’s 2773 years since its founding, but also a hint to the many layers of time that we can encounter here simultaneously. The city’s urban development since antiquity is not a completed process, as one might assume, but endures even within the ancient Aurelian Walls. Whether we wander the indirectly lit streets, stroll on the Sanpietrini-paved squares, listen to the dabbling of the numerous fountains that run since antiquity or move along the Renaissance artists’ paths: Every locations tells its story in a unique way and contributes to the history of the city which is firmly connected to the history of European culture.

Stimulating senses 

Wandering in this labyrinth of public and historical spaces is fascinating because of the powerful sensory impressions that are literally presented to us: the powerful Mediterranean light with its numerous nuances, which Caravaggio once masterfully captured. The generous, even lush public spaces like the gigantic volume inside the Pantheon, embraced by two thousand year old walls. The variety of smells and noises that flow towards us between park landscapes, car lanes, bars and church interiors. The surfaces of stones touched by thousands of pilgrims and worn down marble steps. The travertine facades of the palazzi and churches, which, like a canvas, subtly reflect the colors of the surroundings and the deep blue sky.

Exciting curiosity

Although one might sink into this concert of sensory impressions, an essential component of the Rome experience is added: The countless historical stimuli that arouse curiosity and spiritual stimulation in us. These are not only the physical evidence like the buildings themselves, but also the continuity between them in the processing of the past. The multiply reused spolia and reused components refer to lost works from bygone eras. In other places they come to light directly through the excavation work carried out since the Enlightenment. The architectural and formal processing of classical buildings by the artists of the Renaissance also contributes to this continuity in perception. The borders of the Roman epochs merge into a lasting total work of art.