"Ad moenia": il complesso basilicale e conventuale di San Severo e San Ruphilii (ENG) "Ad moenia": the complex of Saint Severo basilica and Saint Ruphilii monastery in Classe (Ravenna)”

The dissertation “Archaeological area of Classe: memory and identity of a buried place” introduces a strategic and global masterplan to set a new dialogue between the ancient traces of the Ravenna’s harbour and the system of fascinating Early Christian basilicas. The area stretches from the recent artificial network of canals (Fiumi Riuniti) to the well-known Saint Apollinare in Classe basilica. The shape of the area appears to be a narrow -but too long- “corridor”, restricted between the sprawled urban fabric of the Classe town and the wide plain fields. Since the Sixties of the last century, the attention on the well-celebrated harbour of Ravenna, built by the emperor Augustus, became more intense due to the archaeologists’ noteworthy findings. Specifically, their surveys discovered the ruins - actually characterised by a maximum rise of 50 centimetres - of warehouses, workshops and markets as well as the most entirety of three basilicas erected outside the defensive walls. Therefore, her thesis focuses on these discoveries, with particular attention to the well-preserved basilica of Saint Severo, and its nearby monastery, Saint Ruphilii, built at a later time and whose plan is barely appreciable since the archaeological surveys are still ongoing. As a matter of fact, when one addresses to a design project in an archaeological area the state of the art is none other than a “no-finished building site”, as pointed out effectively by Francesco Venezia. The position of the ensemble, situated alongside the “moenia” (Engl. “defensive walls”) offers the starting inspiration for the overall design project, which would recreate the distinctive inner and outer patterns conveyed by the presence of the walls. To be more precise, the title of the thesis “ad moenia” (Eng. “close to the walls”) expresses the main purpose of the project. The palimpsest of Saint Severo is located far from the ruins of the harbour, resulting as hidden frame in the fields, that actually means it is situated approximately one metre behind the current level zero. Therefore, the nowadays condition does not express anymore how the three basilicas magnificently emerged from ground, that at the time of the construction did not consist in a such fertile field, rather in gentle sand dunes. The visitors, hence, enter in the area walking alongside the re-evoked traces of the walls, marked by a wooden pavement that extends till the long gallery pavilion, or visitor-centre. The access to the archaeological area is also guaranteed by a rectangular frame along which a promenade permits a higher point of view on the ruins as well as few points through which going down to the archaeological site. The purpose of the project is a critic re-construction of the basilica’s profile through the proportions of the golden geometry, that regulated both the plan and the elevation of the building. Avoiding the philological sense and the use of original materials, the author succeeded in restoring a possible skyline of “Civitas Classis” and that spatial quality of a perfect interbreeding between the Latin and the Byzantine features. A repetition of wooden columns, two full length horizontal truss structures and two x-lam walls in correspondence to the main façades are the main structural elements which support the cover of zinc sheets, finely pierced where the arched-windows allowed the external light to reflect on the gold mosaics. Such a wooden structure provides the huge spatiality of the basilica in which the exhibiting apparatus presents the different spaces and their role in the liturgy to the visitor. Some fragments, consisting of mosaics, half columns, marble transennas, become hence elements of the spatial narration. The basilica and the monastery are juxtaposed, so in-between them a longitudinal path connects the opposite side of the frame. Having limited information about the monastery, the project’s aim has been to make its typology clearer, that corresponds to emphasize the distinction between the courtyard and the system of rooms faced on it. Precisely, a wooden platform on the inside, which fills all the spaces in-between the ruins, and a sand-grave pavement for the courtyard.

Pittini, Sandro
Master's thesis for the combined Bachelor and Master in Architecture - class 4/S (single cycle degree program) Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna - Faculty of Architecture “Aldo Rossi”
Dissertation extracted from the wider Master's investigation developed by the three candidates (Marco Fabi, Andrea Lucchi, Chiara Monterumisi) and entitled "Area archeologica di Classe: memoria ed identità di un luogo sepolto" (ENG) “Archaeological Area of Classe: memory and identity of a buried place”
Academic year 2009/2010
Public defence: 24 th March 2011

 Record created 2016-04-01, last modified 2018-10-07

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