“I see the MAXXI as an immersive urban environment for the exchange of ideas, feeding the cultural vitality of the city.
The MAXXI should not be considered just one building – but several. The idea was to move away from the idea of “the museum as an object” and towards the idea of a “field of buildings”. After many studies, our research evolved into the concept of the confluence of lines, where the primary force of the site is the walls that constantly intersect and separate to create both indoor and outdoor spaces. It’s no longer just a museum, but an urban cultural centre where a dense texture of interior and exterior spaces have been intertwined and superimposed over one another. It’s an intriguing mixture of galleries, irrigating a large urban field with linear display surfaces.
The walls of the MAXXI create major streams and minor streams. The major streams are the galleries, and the minor streams are the connections and the bridges. The site has a unique L-shaped footprint that meanders between two existing buildings. Rather than seeing this as a limitation, we used it to our advantage, taking it as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of linear structure by bundling, twisting, and building mass in some areas and reducing it in others – threading linearity throughout both interior and exterior or the MAXXI.”
The MAXXI relates with the urban context within which it is set by renewing the horizontal development of the former military barracks. The geometrical plan of the project aligns itself with the two urban grids that regulate the town planning structure of the area and the new interpretation of these two geometrical plans within the proposal generates the surprising geometrical complexity of the campus. The two urban grids are mediated by sinuous lines that harmonise the plan and facilitate the flow within the site. The pedestrian walkway that crosses the campus is open to the public and has been reinstated after approximately 100 years of being blocked by the barracks. This walkway follows the soft outline of the museum, sliding below the upper level galleries towards Via Masaccio. The interior of the MAXXI can be seen by visitors and pedestrians through the numerous openings in the MAXXI’s curvilinear walls that on the one hand, protect its contents, yet beckon the visitor through the broad glazed surface on the ground floor.
The main concept of the project is directly linked to the purpose of the building as a centre for the exhibition of visual arts. The walls that cross the space, and their intersections, defines interior and exterior spaces of the MAXXI. This system acts on all three levels of the building, the second of which is the more complex – with a wealth of connections with various bridges that link buildings and galleries. The visitor is invited to enter into a series of continuous spaces, rather than the compact volume of an isolated building.
The interior spaces, defined by the exhibition walls, are covered by a glass roof that flood the galleries with natural light filtered by the louvered lines of the roofing beams. These beams underline the linearity of the spatial system, aid in articulating the various orientations of the galleries and facilitate circulation through the museum and campus.
ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT AND URBAN STRATEGY :
STAGING THE FIELD OF POSSIBILITIES
The MAXXI addresses the question of its urban context by maintaining a reference to the former army barracks. This is in no way an attempt at topological pastiche, but instead continues the low-level urban texture set against the higher level blocks on the surrounding sides of the site. In this way, the MAXXI is more like an ‘urban graft’, a second skin to the site. At times, it affiliates with the ground to become new ground, yet also ascends and coalesces to become massive where needed. The entire building has an urban character: prefiguring upon a directional route connecting the River to Via Guido Reni, the Centre encompasses both movement patterns existing and desired, contained within and outside. This vector defines the primary entry route into the building. By intertwining the circulation with the urban context, the building shares a public dimension with the city, overlapping tendril-like paths and open space. In addition to the circulatory relationship, the architectural elements are also geometrically aligned with the urban grids that join at the site. In thus partly deriving its orientation and physiognomy from the context, it further assimilates itself to the specific conditions of the site.
SPACE VS OBJECT
Our proposal offers a quasi-urban field, a “world” to dive into rather than a building as signature object. The campus is organised and navigated on the basis of directional drifts and the distribution of densities rather than key points. This is indicative of the character of the MAXXI as a whole: porous, immersive, a field space. An inferred mass is subverted by vectors of circulation. The external as well as internal circulation follows the overall drift of the geometry. Vertical and oblique circulation elements are located at areas of confluence, interference and turbulence.
The move from object to field is critical in understanding the relationship the architecture will have to the content of the artwork it will house. Whilst this is further expounded by the contributions of our Gallery and Exhibitions experts, it is important here to state that the premise of the architectural design promotes a disinheriting of the ‘object’ orientated gallery space. Instead, the notion of a ‘drift’ takes on an embodied form. The drifting emerges, therefore, as both architectural motif, and also as a way to navigate experientially through the museum. It is an argument that, for art practice is well understood, but in architectural hegemony has remained alien. We take this opportunity, in the adventure of designing such a forward looking institution, to confront the material and conceptual dissonance evoked by art practice since the late 1960’s. The path led away from the ‘object’ and its correlative sanctifying, towards fields of multiple associations that are anticipative of the necessity to change.
As such, it is deemed significant that in configuring the possible identity of this newly established institution (housing both Art and Architecture), with its aspiration towards the polyvalent density of the 21st century, conceptions of space and indeed temporality are reworked. Modernist Utopian space fuelled the white ‘neutrality’ of most 20th century museums. Now, this disposition must be challenged, not simply out of wilful negation, but by the necessity for architecture to continue its critical relationship with contemporary social and aesthetic categories. Since absolutism has been indefinitely suspended from current thought on the issue of art presentation, it is towards the idea of the ‘maximising exhibition’ that we gravitate. In this scenario, the MAXXI makes primary the manifold possibilities for the divergence in showing art and architecture as well as catalysing the discourse on its future. Again, the ‘signature’ aspect of an institution of this calibre is sublimated into a more pliable and porous organism that promotes several forms of identification at once.
WALLS/NOT-WALLS: TOWARDS A CONTEMPORARY SPATIALITY
In architectural terms, this is most virulently executed by the figure of the ‘wall’. Against the traditional coding of the ‘wall’ in the museum as the privileged and immutable vertical armature for the display of paintings, or delineating discrete spaces to construct ‘order’ and linear ‘narrative’, we have created a critique of it through its emancipation. The ‘wall’ becomes the versatile engine for the staging of exhibition effects. In its various guises – solid wall, projection screen, canvas, window to the city – the exhibition wall is the primary space-making device. By running extensively across the site, cursively and gestural, the lines traverse inside and out.
Urban space is coincidental with gallery space, exchanging pavilion and court in a continuous oscillation under the same operation. And further deviations from the Classical composition of the wall emerge as incidents where the walls become floor, or twist to become ceiling, or are voided to become a large window looking out. By constantly changing dimension and geometry, they adapt themselves to whatever curatorial role is needed. By setting within the gallery spaces a series of potential partitions that hang from the ceiling ribs, a versatile exhibition system is created. Organisational and spatial invention are thus dealt with simultaneously amidst a rhythm found in the echo of the walls to the structural ribs in the ceiling that also filter the light in varying intensities.
STAGE FOR THOUGHT/ART AS DRAMA
It is in this way that the architecture performs the ‘staging’ of art, with moveable elements that allow for the drama to change. ‘Sets’ can be constructed from the notional elements of the gallery spaces. These are attuned to the particularities of the exhibition in question, materialising or dematerialising accordingly. The drift through the MAXXI is a trajectory through varied ambiences, filtered spectacles and differentiated luminosity. Whilst offering a new freedom in the curators’ palette, this in turn digests and recomposes the experience of art spectatorship as liberated dialogue with artefact and environment.
Project Chronology :
1998 – The Ministry of Defense gives the former “Montello” military barracks area to the MiBAC (Ministry of Culture) which plans the realization of a National Centre for Contemporary Arts.
1999 – International architectural competition. Amongst the 273 proposals received, the Jury (The Jury, chaired by Daniele Del Giudice, composed by: Glenn D. Lowry, Christian Von Holst, Giorgio De Marchis, Maria Mimita Lamberti, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Alessandra Mottola Molfino, Richard Gluckman, Jacques Herzog, Renzo Piano, Alessandro Anselmi, Gino Valle, Angelo Balducci, Enrico Mandolesi, Richard Burdett, Mirko Cardini e, per la committenza, da Sandra Pinto e Pio Baldi) shortlists 15 projects( The 15 shortlisted projects: Adam Caruso e Peter St John; Francesco Cellini e Franco Ceschi; Michele De Lucchi, Achille Castiglioni e Italo Lupi; Vittorio Gregotti; Zaha Hadid; Steven Holl e Guy Nordenson; Toyo Ito; Rem Koolhaas; Pierluigi Nicolin e Italo Rota; Jean Nouvel; Christos Papoulias; Mosè Ricci, Carmen Andriani, Aldo Aymonino, Pippo Corra e Filippo Spaini; Kazuyo Sejima; Eduardo Souto de Moura; Cino Zucchi e Stefano Boeri). Zaha Hadid’s proposal is awarded as the winning entry.
2000 – preliminary planning.
2001 – The MiBAC establishes DARC, la Direzione Generale per l’Architettura e l’Arte Contemporanee (General Committee for Contemporary Architecture and Arts).
2002 – ATI MAXXI 2006 (ITALIANA COSTRUZIONI SpA e SAC – Società Appalti Costruzioni SpA) wins the bid and it is appointed as General Contractor.
2003 – Demolition of preexisting buildings and site clearing. First stone ceremony on the 20th of March.
2004 – Further demolitions and preparation works for the foundations.
2005 – Underground floor completed. Preparation works for the structure.
2006 – Exposed reinforced concrete structure and roof structure in place.
2007 – Preparation works for the external cladding.
2008 – Topping out, finishing works to the exterior and interiors.
2009 – Selection of the art collection and architectural preview.
2010 – Exhibition design and official inauguration
To this date, MAXXI’s permanent collection consists of more than 350 contemporary works of art and 75 thousand architectural drawings.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)
M&E: Max Fordham and Partners (London), OK Design Group (Rome)
Lighting: Equation Lighting (London)
Acoustic: Paul Gilleron Acoustic (London)Cost: EUR 150 Million
Visitors forecast: between 200,000 and 400,000 per year Dimensions:
Total site area: 29,000 sqm
Exterior spaces: 19,640 sqm
Interior spaces: 21,200 sqm
Exhibition spaces: 10,000 sqm
Facilities (auditorium, library and media center, coffee shop, restaurant, admin.): 6,000 sqm
MAXXI Arte: 4,077 sqm
MAXXI Architecture: 1,935 sqm
Total volume: 113,000 m3
Maximum height: 22.90 m Total Steel used for structure: 6,700,000 kg Concrete cast in-situ: 50,000 m3
Total surface of fair-faced concrete 20.000 sqm (Total surface of the formwork 40,000 sqm)
Total surface area of glazing: 2,600 sqm
Employees working on site: 100 per day (builders and technicians) for 1,500 days
Total working hours: 1,250,000