The Nolli Web Site
The Nolli Web Site presents the 1748
Nolli map of Rome as a dynamic, interactive, hands-on tool.
The public now has access to cataloged information about the
map in both written and graphical form. The map not only provides
rich information, but it has the ability to be updated with
new data over time to embrace expanding knowledge.
The interactive Nolli Map Web Site
1) resurrect the integrity of the original
2) greatly enhance the quality and flexibility of its visual
3) grant easy access for scholars and students alike to a
vast body of information.
Conception and Definition of the Project
The 1748 Nolli map of Rome, regarded by
scholars and cartographers as one of the most important historical
documents of the city, serves to geo-reference a vast body
of information to better understand the Eternal City and its
key role in shaping Western Civilization. The Nolli Map Web
Site introduces students to Rome and the structure of its
urban form; it illustrates the evolution of the city over
time; and it reveals diverse factors that determined its development.
Above all, the Nolli Web Site is intended to provide a vehicle
for students and teachers around the world to explore and
facilitate creative thought.
Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756) was
an architect and surveyor who lived in Rome and devoted his
life to documenting the architectural and urban foundations
of the city. The fruit of his labor, La Pianta Grande di Roma
("the great plan of Rome") is one of the most revealing
and artistically designed urban plans of all time. The Nolli
map is an ichnographic plan map of the city, as opposed to
a bird’s eye perspective, which was the dominant cartographic
representation style prevalent before his work. Not only was Nolli one of the first people to construct an ichnographic map of Rome, his unique perspective has been copied ever since.
The map depicts the city in astonishing
detail. Nolli accomplished this by using scientific surveying
techniques, careful base drawings, and minutely prepared engravings.
The map's graphic representations include a precise architectural scale, as well as a prominent compass rose, which notes both magnetic and astronomical north. The Nolli map is the first accurate map of Rome since
antiquity and captures the city at the height of its cultural
and artistic achievements. The historic center of Rome has
changed little over the last 250 years; therefore, the Nolli
map remains one of the best sources for understanding the
The intention of this website is to reveal both the historical significance of the map and the principles of urban form that may influence city design in the future. During the last half of the 20th century, architects and urban designers have shown a renewed interest in what the Nolli map has to offer, leading to new urban theories and a model for the study of all cities.
Features of the Nolli Map
The Nolli map consists of twelve exquisitely
engraved copper plates that measure approximately six feet
high and seven feet wide when combined (176 cm by 208 cm).
The map includes almost eight square miles of the densely-built
city as well as the surrounding terrain. It also identifies
nearly two thousand sites of cultural significance. Nolli’s
map is an extraordinary technical achievement that represents
a milestone in the art and science of cartography. Modern
surveys and sophisticated satellite images have confirmed
the accuracy of Nolli’s map within the very smallest
margin of error. The map not only records the streets, squares
and public urban spaces of Rome, but Nolli carefully renders
hundreds of building interiors with detailed plans. The detail
of the map representation ensures the map's continuing value
as a unique historical document, and it gives the viewer a
glimpse into the ancient metropolitan center during one of
its most illustrious periods.
Key Features of the Web Site
The website features a digitally mastered,
high resolution interactive Nolli map, designed for broadband
connections. The Map Engine may be accessed from any page
of the website, allowing you to navigate through the city
at a variety of scales. Using the Map Engine, the user can
pan in any direction and zoom in or out from the macro-scale
of the city to the micro-scale of the building. Layers have
been created to focus on particular topics, for example "
gardens.” The layers in this first edition will be updated
and expanded to include many more topics. The topics that
will be added include topographic and hydrographic information,
specific building types, and census data by Rioni. Layers
may be turned on and off, and blended with map below to provide
for the best viewing conditions.
Thematic modules organize the city’s
many features into four broad areas of investigation.
Features and Landscape Elements
Architecture and Urban Design
Within each module, we investigate
topics of interest, using the Nolli map as context. Feature
Articles address well-documented aspects of the map, chronicling
the richness of the history and significance of the work through
cross-disciplinary themes. Interpretive Essays are more loosely-structured
pieces that explore less formal aspects of the map and its
impact on a field.
The Web site provides a versatile indexing
system that allows the user to quickly and easily locate all
1,320 sites noted by number in the original Nolli map. The
Nolli map includes dual listings which include both a numerical
list by topographic location and a second alphabetical list
which provides a typological frame of reference. In addition
the search mechanism provides annotations for all sites including
modern name and location, type, architect, time period, and
references. A simple search will provide results that match
in any of these categories, as well
as retrieve entries in the glossary, bibliography, and any
articles that appear on the site. City locations that appear
are directly linked to the Map Engine, allowing you to see
each location in the context of its surroundings.
Notes on the Principal Contributors
James Tice, principal investigator,
is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University
of Oregon and a Research Fellow at Studium Urbis. As a teacher,
scholar and architect, he has devoted 30 years to the study
of Italian architecture and urbanism. He has lived in Rome
for three years, one of which was spent studying at the American
Academy, and has taught a variety of courses specifically
focusing on the architecture and urbanism of Rome. He has
served as Director for the Department of Architecture's Rome
Summer Program where he has also participated as a visiting
faculty on several occasions. The author has established his
expertise on Giambattista Nolli through his writings and international
conference presentations. He has co-authored two books on
architecture the latter devoted to computer generated visualization
techniques for teaching.
Erik Steiner holds the
title of 'Dynamic Cartography Researcher' at the InfoGraphics
Lab in the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon.
His design and research work has won multiple national and
international awards. Specializing in interactive cartography,
he has given several workshops and taught courses on the topic,
as well as publishing the Atlas of Oregon CD-ROM
in 2002 and Oregon Geographic Names CD-ROM in 2003.
His research interests are in cognitive science, particularly
related to the theory behind and usability of geovisualization
Dr. Allan Ceen is Professor
of Urban Studies at Pennsylvania State University, sede di
Roma and is the Director of Studium Urbis. He has written
extensively on the subject of Giambattista Nolli and is recognized
as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject.
Mark Brenneman is a Graduate
Student in Architecture with 15 years experience in computer
graphics and applications.
Virginia Cartwright, Dept.
of Architecture, for design consultation and encouragement
Ben Humphrey, InfoGraphics Lab, for his role
in building core database and web functionality
Stephen Lamb, Lamb Consulting, for assistance
in designing an online data management tool
Eric Sproles, InfoGraphics Lab, for his help
in designing and implementing the geodatabase data model and
contributions to the web design
Jacob Bartruff, Dept. of Geography, for his
technical support and general know-how
We would like to acknowledge the
following for their generous support:
North West Academic Computing Consortium (NWACC)
The Board of Visitors at the School of Architecture and Allied
The Office of the President at the University of Oregon under
of the Instructional Technology Initiative
who generously provided a high-resolution satellite image
for use in data compilation, registration, and display.
We would also like to thank:
John Reynolds, Professor Emeritus for the generous use of
his original Nolli map print.
The InfoGraphics Lab in the Department of
Geography and especially Jim Meacham, the Director of the
InfoGraphics Lab for expert advice, consultations and encouragement.
The Department of Architecture and the Office
of the Dean at the School of Architecture and Allied Arts
and especially to Karen Johnson for her encouragement during
the early stages of this project.
The Office of the President, and especially
Russ Tomlin for his encouragement.
Earl Moursund for the exchange of ideas
about Rome and his patient and insightful advice and encouragement
in Rome during the early phases of this project.