Archeology of Rose Island

In 1967, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa designed and funded the construction of a 400 square metre platform in the Adriatic Sea, 11 km off the coast of Rimini, Italy, supported by nine pylons and furnished it with a number of amenities including a restaurant, a bar, a souvenir shop and a post office. He named the platform the Republic of Rose Island (Esperanto: Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj), and proceeded to declare independence from Italy, pointing out that the platform was positioned just outside Italy’s territorial waters and therefore not subject to its sovereignty. The experiment was short-lived: on 11 February 1969, the island was demolished by the Italian state.Rosa copyrighted the invention under the name “System to build artificial islands—in steel and concrete—both for civil and industrial purposes” (#850.987). In his own words, the invention “consists in arranging a structure on the beach and floating it offshore to a predetermined location with a maximum sea depth of 40 metres. The pillars, which are empty, are lowered vertically to the bottom of the sea floor. Then steel tubes are inserted in the pillars and pushed into the sea floor. Later, the pillars are filled with cement to complete the structure, with no risk of corrosion.” The island even incorporated a pole to retrieve fresh water from 280 metres below the sea floor, with the idea of retrieving oil to sell to motor boats at cheap prices, without the Italian tax. To date, Isola delle Rose is one of only two artificial island nations successfully realised as a new territory with a self-declared government.

The essence of Isola delle Rose is in its nature as a political act of critical synthesis through design. Rosa’s project prefigured the collapse of faith in representative democracy at the dawn of the 21st century, preemptively responding to this crisis through the deployment of a mix of political activism, architecture and technology. Archaeology of Rose Island revisits the remains of the platform on the seabed of the Adriatic, re-examining its relevance in the context of the contemporary surge of interest in libertarianism and technological emancipation from State control.

Project team: Joseph Grima, Tamar Shafrir
Graphic design by Folder
Exhibition Dates:
6 December 2013 — 28 February 2014, Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Shenzhen, China
24 May — 2 August 2014, Part of Coming Soon, Bureau Europa, Maastricht, Netherlands