The MAXXI addresses the question of its urban context by continuing the low-level urban texture of the former army barracks as set against the higher level blocks on the surrounding sides. In this way, the centre is more like an ‘urban graft’, a second skin to the site. At times it affiliates with the ground, yet it also ascends and coalesces to become a mass where needed. By the intertwining the circulation patterns with the urban context, the building’s tendril-like paths and open spaces overlap with those of the city. The architectural elements are also geometrically aligned with the urban grids surrounding the site, further assimilating the building with its context.
The proposal offers a quasi-urban field, a ‘world’ to dive into, rather than the building as an object. The campus is organized and navigated on the basis of directional drifts and the distribution of densities rather than the key points, reflecting the porous and immersive character of the MAXXI as a whole. Both the external and internal circulation follow the drift of the geometry, with vertical and oblique circulation elements located at areas of confluence, interference, and turbulence. The move from object to field is critical to the architecture and the art that it will house. The path leads away from the sanctification of the object towards fields of multiple associations.
In architectural terms, this is the most radically executed by the wall. In opposition to the traditional coding of the museum wall as the privileged and immutable vertical armature for displaying paintings or delineating discrete spaces to construct order and linear narrative, the wall here becomes a versatile engine for the staging of exhibition effects. In its many guises – solid surface, projection screen, canvas, window to the city – it becomes the primary space-making device. By running extensively across the site, the cursively and gestural lines traverse inside and out, letting the urban space coincide with gallery space. Further deviations from classical composition occur where the walls become floor, or twist to become ceiling, or are voided to become large windows. By constantly shifting in dimension and geometry, the walls adapt themselves to whatever curatorial role is needed.
A versatile exhibition system is created by setting within the gallery spaces a series of potential partitions that hang from the ceiling ribs. These moveable elements enable ‘sets’ to be constructed, materializing or dematerializing according to exhibition requirements and allowing the drama to change.
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
Project Architect: Gianluca Racana (Zaha Hadid Architects)
Site Supervision Team: Paolo Matteuzzi, Anja Simons, Mario Mattia
Design Team: Anja Simons, Paolo Matteuzzi, Fabio Ceci, Mario Mattia, Maurizio Meossi, Paolo Zilli, Luca Peralta, Maria Velceva, Matteo Grimaldi, Ana M.Cajiao, Barbara Pfenningstorff, Dillon Lin, Kenneth Bostock, Raza Zahid, Lars Teichmann, Adriano De Gioannis, Amin Taha, Caroline Voet, Gianluca Ruggeri, Luca Segarelli
Competition Team: Ali Mangera, Oliver Domeisen, Christos Passas, Sonia Villaseca, Jee-Eun Lee, James Lim, Julia Hansel, Sara Klomps, Shumon Basar, Bergendy Cooke, Jorge Ortega, Stephane Hof, Marcus Dochantschi, Woody Yao, Graham Modlen, Jim Heverin, Barbara Kuit, Ana Sotrel, Hemendra Kothari, Zahira El Nazel, Florian Migsch, Kathy Wright, Jin Wananabe, Helmut Kinzer, Thomas Knuvener, Sara Kamalvand
Planning Consultant: ABT (Rome)
Structural Engineer: Anthony Hunt Associates (London), OK Design Group (Rome) and Studio S.P.C. S.r.l. (Rome)
M&E: Max Fordham and Partners (London), OK Design Group (Rome)
Lighting: Equation Lighting (London)
Acoustic: Paul Gilleron Acoustic (London)