Forking Paths

What is the dream experience?

Forking Paths, interior view

Project title: Forking Paths

Team: Linru Wang, Yiou Wang

Competition: Reuse Italy, 2020

Program: adaptive reuse, contemporary art museum

What is the dream experience like? The underground ruins of Piscina Mirabilis is a cave to dream in. Given the challenge to reuse the Roman cistern’s ruins as a contemporary art museum, we reinvent the rational syntax of arch and water, and invert the traditional relationship between architectural elements to generate an irrational, hallucinative underground gallery, where the dreamscape and reality is continuous and one.


The Piscina Mirabilis is an Augustan cistern situated on the Bacoli hill in Napoli. Our proposed gallery internalizes a public space and reimagines the presence of the ancient pillars. The new exhibition space slices gently into the historical reservoir and creates intensified spatial experience. 

By repeating and reorienting the basic vocabulary – the arch, the stair, and the pond – we achieve multiplicity with simple elements. As numerous flying arches bridge the columns’ corners diagonally, a parallel system of 45-degree rotation arises. The high and low flying arches juxtapose different levels to experience the underground space, and different angles to appreciate the hanging and floating spheres – the artworks in the space. The columns are used as doorways, suggesting that a column could be inhabitable. That our subjective senses can invert the space and the boundary questions whether one reality can be interchangeable with another reality.

The entry remains simple and austere, hiding the sensually rich underground space in a mystery. The exterior above ground is altered very lightly.

Program: fixed vs. fluid

The circulation path attached to the forest of flying arches is fixed, while the programs on the periphery of the underground level are fluid.

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