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the ghost block of Giambattista Nolli

year
2014
place
Ex Corderie dell’Arsenale - Venezia
program
Exhibition contribution - Fundamentals – Monditalia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia.
volume
5,5 x 4,5 x 1,25 m
client
La Biennale di Venezia – Director Rem Koolhaas – President Paolo Baratta
architects
stARTT - Simone Capra, Claudio Castaldo, Francesco Colangeli, Dario Scaravelli.
historical research
Francesca Romana Stabile
team
Fabio Coletta, Andrea Valentini, Valentina Cestari, Elisabetta Vacca
sponsor
Artexa – il tappeto italiano
photography
Gabriele Lungarella
   
design phase
REALIZED
This is the name of the research project presented by stARTT at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, in Monditalia section that aims to narrow Italy, through 40 architectures, highly representative of the current state of the country.
The ghost block of Giambattista Nolli presents the case-study of San Giacomo Hospital of Rome - ancient public Institution of the city, code 476-480 on Nolli's map of Rome, closed in 2008 by the Governement of Lazio Region, formally motivated by the anti-crisis measures to comply with the fiscal compact. The hospital, founded in 1339, is closed on October 31st 2008 and the building is included in a real estate fund to be sold. So far it seems one of the many operations of private enhancement from public heritage.

Not long before these events, a testament by Cardinal Antonio Maria Salviati (1537-1602), who had wanted the renovation of the health complex in the sixteenth century, is found at the State Archives of Rome: In nomine Domini and by the will of the powerful prelate the San Giacomo Hospital, until then a property of the Salviati family, is donated to the healthcare institutions of the Roman People and the building is destinated to a public use as long as it will remain a health structure, otherwise the property will revert to the heirs of Salviati's family.
The discovery questions the regional government’s selling procedure, as the regional government is the last descendant of the Roman People in matters of health administration.
Nevertheless the hospital, which was perfectly functional and operative, is closed down. The block remains abandoned, caught in the legal battle between the public administration that pushes towards securitization and the private citizens – the Salviati family together with civic associations – which defend the public and healthcare use of the complex.

The story of San Giacomo speaks about the conflicts crossing the architecture and the urban public spaces, as physical shapes of the European city's welfare infrastructure in time of crisis. Its closure questions the issue of public heritage, the role of welfare Institutions and the identity of the European Urban Model, which has developed and stratified around its public Institutions.

In its suspension as a phantom body, the San Giacomo represents a latent and powerful resource to be interrogated -by the instrument of the project- in order to rethink the architecture of commons, specifically of health, in the time of the information society, inside the dense and highly artificial fabrics of contemporary urban condition and beyond the processes of crisis.