The walkways and embankments along the Tiber River were built between 1876 and the 1920s to control the annual flooding of the river that would regularly inundate the city. Although the embankments have served their purpose of protecting Rome, the walkways are essentially unused by Romans and visitors alike. One can walk for an hour on the Tiber right through the middle of the city and only encounter a lone bike rider or dog walker. In the summer, the only programming that happens along these banks tends to be privatized, walling off sections to create separate vendor markets, including bars and nightclubs.
Hammond was drawn to the semi-abandoned nature of this walkway. It reminded him of his early experiences on New York City’s High Line. His initial thought about how to revitalize this public space was around design interventions, but he soon found that there have been dozens of architectural competitions for the site, few of which were realistic and none of which had been implemented. Hammond realized that making the walkway along the Tiber River into a vibrant social open space does not have to be difficult or complex. An alternative to grand architectural and urban planning schemes is to focus on two simples issues: seating and programming.