Autorizzazione Tribunale di Roma n. 378 del 30/09/2005
Rivista bimestrale - Anno VI - n.23 - Gennaio-marzo 2010

MAXXi, the Museum of contemporary arts of Rome

We have already talked about the MAXXi project (archive n.9), the most outstanding museum of contemporary arts in Europe. Now it’s time to focus on the debate on this building which has been created by the Iranian architect Zaha Hadid. A complex project, for sure, a reflection of its creator’s decontructivist spirit that requires a conflictual, instable geometry, a design that doesn’t look for regular axes; in other words it represents the opposite of the Italian planning style. The final result is completely different from the way it was originally thought: an extenuating fund search and the need for an approval from the continuously succeeding governments led to a tragic cut that has brought the fascinating forms of the project far away from the Hadid studio achievements (just think about Cincinnati’s Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Center, or to

the astounding Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein).
The MAXXi (Museo delle Arti del XXI secolo) is full of deconstructivist contradictions: its catwalks and stair-sets seem to creep into the middle of the halls; its kindly shaped courses overlap and cross one another. Nicolai Ouroussoff said about the MAXXI: “its sensual lines seem to capture the energies of the city, taking them into its navel… I suppose Bernini would have appreciated its forms too”. Yes, the MAXXi amazes and surprises thank to its long crystal galleries and to its great white spaces. On next may the MAXXi will open its doors, establishing itself as a global culture campus where it will be possible to study the most innovative forms of modern art and architecture. This will be made possible by the museums that are going to share its rooms: the MAXXi architettura and the MAXXi arte, two separate entities united by the common refusal of the idea of linearity. Zaha Hadid said: "the main idea at the base of the project is the idea of movement, generated by the lines of force which overlapping one another get to create several levels. The L-shaped site itself suggests these lines of force, creating a number of
intersecting internal and external spaces not renouncing to the strength of the building anyway”. Entering the museum we get caught by its rough yet soft forms which are exalted by a zenithal use of the incoming light. Nothing new, anyway: this usage of daylight was first employed by F. Lloyd Wright for the New York Guggenheim museum. In the case of the MAXXi this device has been indispensable due to its larger volume: the internal light is the trademark of this project because it reveals the true nature of its spaces. Still there are some doubts standing: is the whole structure a sort of dream for contemporary architecture, or just the abstraction of a building that is “as beautiful as a road junction” as Paolo Portoghesi stated? The debate is open.

traslation: Daniele Mastropietro