Architectural Assistant, Beth Mogey reflects on her week at the Architecture Summer School in Rome.


Every January, when John and I visit Rome, I bring a set of A3 photocopies of the Nolli plan […] I walk into a series of connected, subtly angled spaces, and there they are on the map, the angles barely discernible in plan, but strongly experienced in reality. – Sheila O’Donnell, Drawing on Nolli Plan

The British Academy of Rome is housed in a Luyten building, which contains a courtyard encircled by art studios and living quarters. Under the guidance of Director Abigail Brudin, it’s a collaborative hub, fostering the exchange of knowledge and ideas, and igniting creativity. Every day a bell rings to announce dinner, promptly filling the dining hall with a diverse community of scholars, archaeologists, artists, and architects, where research findings of the day are shared. It was here where the first architecture summer school; ‘A Moment in Rome’, took place. It marked the start of a unique week-long program. This initiative provided young professionals with the opportunity to work alongside renowned architects for a week; this year beginning with John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell. Every year O’Donnell and Tuomey undertake the same ritual of mapping their movements in Rome through the Nolli map, wandering and pausing to appreciate the city’s intricate urban fabric. This year they had 12 young professionals following in their footsteps.

The brief for the week was an exploration of the ‘in-between’ spaces of the historical fabric of Rome. Understanding how the city had developed through the layering of time, functions, and interventions. The week started at Borromini’s Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, hidden behind a quiet facade off a bustling Rome street. The church featured interconnected spaces with well-placed windows, allowing natural light to permeate the interior. John Tuomey spoke about the life of Borrominis, the geometry of the church, and the influence of his work within their design. We then began wandering through the streets, inspired by Sheila’s method of mapping her movement on the Noili Map, we began to explore the geometry of the historical fabric The day concluded with a visit to the ‘hatching’ of the Nolli map, gaining access to the interior walls of the Pantheon.

The British School of Rome organized tours to enhance our understanding of ancient Rome. We explored Trojans Market and the ancient city of Ostia with specialist guides like Christopher Siwicki and Stephen Kay. Their expertise provided insights into the cultural significance of these historic sites and how Roman architecture shaped their identity.

The British Academy is amidst other international academies, facing the Egyptian, Romanian, and Belgian ones. Nearby is the Danish Academy, the last work of architect Kay Fisher. Our week took an interesting turn with a tour by the Danish Academy director Charlotte Bundgaard, showcasing Danish design with striking yellow bricks and teak furniture throughout the academy. The showcase was in the entrance foyer which was specifically designed to house a Granite sculpture by Soren Geroge Gensen. Each academy’s architecture reflects the local culture, creating a unique experience in Quartiere Pinciano.

The week brought together twelve of us, a diverse group of architects, students, and engineers, for a unique experience in Rome. We had the privilege of learning from John and Sheila, gaining valuable insights into their deep knowledge of the city; which you can only truly gain by following them through the streets of Rome for a week, and watching how they learn and interact with the historical fabric.

At the end of the week, we gathered in front of the Nolli map as a collective to share the sketches and models we had been building throughout our time. We had learned not just from exploring the Nolli map, but through each individual we had met that week. We had gained a new perspective of the city, which was only achieved by having gathered a group of individuals from different specialist practices, being led by two architects who truly loved Rome.


This year’s participants:

Ana Laterza (Adam Architecture) Vizma Dzene (AHMM) Chen Man (Alison Brooks) Thomas Rose (ARUP) Claire Hickey (ARUP) Abigail Connor (Eric Parry) Lana Kustrak (Jeremy Blake Architects) Beth Mogey (Maccreanor Lavington) David Stirling (Reiach and Hall) Ramadan Marah (Sheppard Robson) Sam Wimbush (Stiff Trevillion) Andrew Lane (Witherford Watson Mann)


This year the summer school was generously sponsored by the practices listed above, and many more practices. Organized by Bob Allies (Allies and Morrison) and the British School of Rome. With thanks to O’Donnell & and Tuomey for their valuable insight.

Applications for the Giles Worsley Fellowship and the Rome Scholarship in Architecture are now open for applicants, with a deadline of 11 December 2023.