its ancient walls expanded. While growth dictated their boundaries, military technology dictated their design. With each advance in weaponry, towers heightened and walls thickened. In many instances the walls we see today are secretions of several building campaigns. One of the more captivating expanses is that of the Aurelian wall at Porta San Sebastiano, a bastion that filters passage along the legendary Appian Way.

Porta San Sebastiano experienced at least three restructurings since its initial construction back in 270 AD. Scattered vestiges hint at the towers’ evolution from bow to crossbow to catapult. Obsolete as a defensive structure, its program varied in modern times. Though looking much as it had a thousand years ago, the structure now serves as one of Rome’s more enchanting exhibition spaces. Known as the Museo delle Mura [Museum of the City Walls], this museum illustrates the story of these ancient fortifications.

Once again the city of Rome is expanding, this time through its cultural institutions. Several museum extensions are well under way throughout the city. Here, Kinetic Fantasies anticipates an expansion at the Museo delle Mura.

Porta San Sebastiano’s last transformation occurred centuries ago to provide higher perches for engines of war such as the catapult. While pondering this past, Kinetic Fantasies proposes two retractable auditoriums for lectures and films. Structured on massive arms like those of a catapult, the auditoriums cantilever from the towers over the Appian Way. Inside, the plan is a traditional layout of audience and aisles. Installed into the existing wall, projection screens face the audience. At the rear, exterior smoking balconies overlook the ancient Arch of Drusus and the panorama of Rome. At the close of the day, the two auditoriums dramatically fold-away. As the structural arms rotate, the auditoriums separate into several segments that disjoin, fold and nest together.

Unmasked by the auditoriums’ displacement, the fixed projection screens reveal themselves to audiences below. A transformation has occurred not only in form, but also in function. A museum addition by day metamorphoses into a magical nocturnal outdoor film forum—una cinema aperta.