EUR CENTRAL LAKE PARK ROME
By Mario Pisani
The EUR centre dates back to the 1930s as a project partially completed for the Universal Exhibition of 1942, which took place in Rome. Conceived as a modern expression to celebrate the architecture of the Fascist period on the anniversary commemoration of the Marcia su Roma. The project was completed for the 1960 XVII Olympics, with the construction of the Pier Luigi Nervi and Marcello Piacentini Palazzo dello Sport, the Velodrome by Ligini, Ortensi and Ricci (recently demolished), and the present layout of the lake precinct together with its surrounding green areas by Raffaele De Vico, the designer of many other important garden projects. The park, which is conceived as the centre of the whole project, is also of some historical interest. Particularly noteworthy is the monumental Giardino delle Cascate with its rich play of water, sound and music, which is only activated for important occasions. The whole concept remains one of exceptional scenographic value.
With the passage of over half a century, the area obviously needed updating and rehabilitation. The result is a series of structures such as the Cythera floating platform constructed in 2005. Two years later, the Hashi bridge over the waterfall of the lake and the four gates to the waterfall garden on the theme of the four elements were installed. The Cythera platform derives its name from the mythical island of the Roman goddess Venus, a name chosen by Franco Zagari, one of the most important landscape and garden designers of today, as an appropriate title for a project set in what must be one of the most suggestive contemporary art contexts. Parallel to its perimeters, a floating terrace, houses a fascinating plantation comprising an array of water-lilies. The island itself consists of five interconnected floating arenas paved in timber with intermittent inserted layers of luminescent glass. The handrails are in transparent Inox steel, while seating areas allow one to be able to relax and appreciate the aquatic flora located both below and above the water surface. Visitors utilizing this seating accommodation can also experience the exotic aromas of the water plants and flowers.
The Hashi, which provides a new pedestrian route over the main waterfall derives its name from the Japanese word meaning ‘bridge’. It aims to emphasize a threshold and linkage between departure and arrival. This passage, connecting the two sides of the main waterfall, follows the natural undulations of the terrain. The main structure is in Inox steel while the paving utilizes exotic timbers. Handrails and balustrades are in Inox netting allowing a translucent sense of transparency. Four new highly coloured gateways serve as the introduction to the Giardino delle Cascate, designed taking into consideration and evoking the original concept of the project, which was to have rose creepers planted along the two sides of the Viale Cristoforo Colombo approach road.
These will eventually replace the ones that are currently in place. The load bearing structure of the project consists of profiles and sheets of polished steel recalling the Torres and La Pena Villa Cecilia project in Barcelona, surely one of the most ingenious and extraordinary gardens of the last century.