8 February 2022

Nicholas Temple, “Renovatio Urbis, Succession and the Architecture of Hurry”

In this paper I will explore the issue of temporality in renovatio urbis; how buildings and their urban contexts register continuity of time in the civic, religious, political and commercial lives of cities. The tradition of cities throughout history to commemorate their own ‘renewal’, through civic rituals, religious feasts and ceremonies, has been virtually erased in most contemporary cities where temporality is seemingly an endless continuum of development and technologically driven ‘progress’, denuded of reflective (commemorative) occasions.

One of the symptoms of this one-way trajectory of time in urban life is the loss of purpose and erosion of the participatory dimensions of civic space. Beginning with Renaissance Rome, I trace the material manifestations of continuity and succession in city-making, from where I then consider the issue of the ‘unfinished’ in the contemporary city, as a cultural and architectural expression of a restored renovatio urbis.

Nicholas Temple is an architect and Senior Professor of Architectural History at London Metropolitan University and is Director of the Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE).