Posts tagged with "MAXXI":

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A MAXXI exhibit shows Bruno Zevi as a critic of difference

The exhibition Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History of Italian Architecture, 1944-2000, curated by Pippo Ciorra and Jean-Louis Cohen at MAXXI in Rome, interweaves three strands of research and documentation based on the life and work of Bruno Zevi: his biography; an architectural history that brings together a selection of projects culled from Zevi’s writings; and finally Zevi’s media, which extend from books to TV broadcasting and exhibitions. It presents, on one hand, Zevi’s voice (which one can literally hear broadcast on TV) and the scope of his work as an architectural critic, theorist and public intellectual. Encountering Zevi’s voice and work is important, especially for generations of architects and historians who know Zevi as an “operative critic,” the title given to him by Manfredo Tafuri in Theories and History of Architecture, and the title that Zevi himself embraced when he founded the Institute of Operative Criticism. On the other hand, the exhibition presents a history of Italian architecture after World War II that brings together well-known projects along with lesser-known ones to narrate an understanding of architecture—one that is not only deeply rooted in society and social transformation, but also diverse. It is this history that makes a difference and gives the exhibition its taste: a fresh view of Italian architecture after WWII that begins with usual suspects, but expands to include more unfamiliar projects, singular attempts, and different trajectories. The selected projects are presented with quotes from Zevi’s writings about them. The selection starts with projects that are common to the architectural discourse in the fifties and sixties and then expands to include projects that are more idiosyncratic. It is through this selection that Zevi’s voice forms as well—initially part of common discourse and then becoming more individualized. The result is an exhibition where Zevi becomes a posthumous curator of Italian architecture in the second half of the 20th century. And by suggestion, one can conclude that today’s operative critic is a curator. Zevi’s voice carries controversies within itself. We learn, for instance, that Zevi, an Italian Jew, emigrated to England and the United States, and became a member of USIS (United States Information Service). USIS was a U.S. government agency devoted to explaining American policies and views to foreign publics during the Cold War. Broadcasting was an important activity of USIS. Zevi’s fascination with Frank Lloyd Wright and American architecture may have something to do with this, and his entire emphasis on organic architecture as the architecture of democracy may have to do with this as well. Even his emphasis on broadcasting his views on TV may have been influenced by this. There is perhaps no surprise in this congruity between thoughts and actions. Yet considering Italy had one of the strongest communist parties and traditions in Europe, this information places Zevi’s work in in a more controversial light within its context and helps to distinguish him as a distinct voice. What does one find in this voice and through the exhibition? One finds an openness to accept every example of architecture with its politics as part of a diverse cultural and social landscape. One finds determination to discuss architecture first as the work of an architect and with terms and constraints set by design, and then consider the roles design decisions play in social and cultural realms. For instance, Sergio Musmeci’s Ponte sul Basento in Potenza is an engineering feat of elegant form but also a “pedestrian walkway filled with surprises” leading toward the city from the industrial zone. In Zevi’s words, there is joy of architecture. One way to think about Zevi after the exhibition Zevi’s Architects is as the critic of difference. This is not a difference that is articulated or generated through the analysis of historical conditions. This is difference in the sense that everybody has a slightly different view of a given situation. Such a difference of views may be constructed by means of history but it is also a matter of hic et nunc. It is difference that occurs because everyone occupies a slightly different place and hence may have a different view. It is the kind of difference that constitutes a public realm according to Hannah Arendt: “Only where things can be seen by many in a variety of aspects without changing their identity, so that those who are gathered around them know they see sameness in utter diversity, can worldly reality truly and reliably appear.” Ultimately, this is also the kind of difference that makes democracy possible. Going through Zevi’s Architects feels like reading a perfect film script. As the story of architecture in Italy after WWII unfolds, the protagonist, the architectural critic develops, takes charge and begins impacting the story. Eventually, the story and the protagonist are intrinsically linked. The exhibition, in presenting a diversified history of Italian architecture, makes visible the work of the critic. Through Zevi’s biography and the selected projects, it allows for a reflection on democracy today and how different it is than today’s populisms due to the difference that constitutes it.
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More than 200 Superstudio works go on display at the MAXXI

The latest and most comprehensive exhibition on the work of the Italian design group Superstudio has recently opened at the MAXXI Rome, Zaha Hadid’s concrete neo-brutalist masterpiece. In an impressively fearless maneuver, the Superstudio veterans Adolfo Natalini, Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, and Gian Piero Frassinelli have rammed their signature Continuous Monument straight through the entrails of Hadid’s longest suspended gallery. Revolutionary red and stretching over 100 meters, the broad elongated slab serves to reinforce Hadid’s sinewy and gravity-defying series of splayed ramped spaces, some futilely narrow, others in hairpin twists. Though clearly the MAXXI installations in this canted structure are improving as the curators come up with increasingly clever ways to hang shows in these spaces, Superstudio’s revisited monument functions as the critical datum on which this important retrospective is organized.

MAXXI’s artistic director Hou Hanru offers up one of the museum’s prime spaces for the exhibition, and it pays off with great dividends as Superstudio’s work gets the kind of ample spatial treatment it has long deserved. Moreover, this show, curated by Gabriele Mastrigli, comes with a comprehensive book-catalogue that weighs in at over 660 pages and proves that Mastrigli, who spent more than five years compiling the publication, has mastered every aspect of the group’s oeuvre. While now only available in Italian, an English edition is promised in time to accompany the show’s move to Shanghai early next year.

The MAXXI exhibition offers more than 200 works by Superstudio, with a surprising amount of pieces never before placed on public display. Organized mainly in chronological order, the first objects one encounters at the ground floor entrance to the gallery are full-scale reproductions of the first Superarchitettura installation made for the Jolly2 gallery in Pistoia in 1966, mounted by the Tuscan manufacturer Poltronova. As soon as one alights the top of the main stairs however, the real show begins with the group’s timeline, beginning in the fanciful pop phase, journeying through the design storyboards, the histogram assembly, and the gridded villas, until a few stairs up, one gets to meet with the Continuous Monument in all its splendor and folly. From there, things get gnarly, as visitors can branch off in different directions, depending on which ramps they follow: A few contemporary works pop into view, such as the new digital animation based on the Continuous Monument storyboard by Lucio Lapietra. Present among these new works are also the Trieste-based architect and photographer Stefano Graziani’s collection of unmediated photographs made while working in the Superstudio archive, and the mesmerizing “living Photoshop” compositions by Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib. 

Then there are the late pieces made for the 1978 Venice Biennale curated by Lara Vinca Masini in the Magazzini del Sale: The Wife of Lot, a table-stand supporting the primary archetypes of architecture made in baked salt, and the Life of Zeno, a documentation on the farmer who contributed to the important extra-urban material cultural studies conducted at the school of architecture in Florence through the 70s. There are some notable absences however. Like any superstar rock group worth remembering, there are misgivings among Superstudio’s members. Alessandro Poli is conspicuously absent, along with him some prime works from the group’s first collective film effort, Interplanetary Architecture. Contributions of two other members, the brothers Roberto and Alessandro Magris, remain evident throughout the show.

Stephen Wallis’s recent T Magazine preview, “The Super Superstudio,” carries the subtitle “A ’60s Architecture Collective That Made History (but No Buildings).” The myth that Superstudio never completed a single building is a convenient notion that serves to disempower the group’s revolutionary impact on mainstream architecture. If indeed they had built nothing, theirs would be a non-threatening movement of the coffee table variety. But that’s far from the truth. Superstudio was a fully functioning architecture office, with clients seeking designs for discotheques, bank interiors, homes, industrial designs, and a consistent production of competitions, exhibition installations, etc. Furthermore, it was precisely this very real and frustrating daily architectural practice that provoked these Florentines to push even further their anti-design philosophy.

When compared to the Milanese retrospective organized at the PAC in 2015, MAXXI’s Superstudio 50 is a much more introspective story. There are none of those previous controversies present here at MAXXI. This exhibition is unabashedly all about Superstudio, and there are no diversions whatsoever to undermine this essential premise. But therein lies the exhibition’s greatest weakness. If the PAC juxtaposed the works of Superstudio with a set of questionably unrelated contemporary artists, the Rome exhibit acts inevitably to “ghettoize” the primacy of the content: Is Superstudio really a standalone act of architecture? Or is it in fact something much more than that, something that has embedded a majority of the great conceptual themes of an era? Isn’t the work of Superstudio so incredibly significant today precisely because it reaches across professional disciplines and political boundaries, connecting the arts with architecture, humanities with science fiction, performance with deadpan spectacle? While the book begins to fill this gap by bringing together an encyclopedia of Superstudio related sources, the exhibition is hung dry. If architecture is to regain its role as social instigator ever again, and not just behave like a capitalist lackey, then a whole lot more must be brought to bear in the toolkit that serves architects today. That’s why Superstudio’s work deserves to be in more space, but also to be in more categorical places. Each document by Superstudio can be read as a call to action, inaction, violence, or desperation. These messages are not limited to architects—they are relevant to everyone.

Superstudio 50 (Five Decades Later) is on view at the MAXXI - National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Via Guido Reni 4A, 00196 Rome, through September 4, 2016.

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Winners of the Young Architects Program MAXXI merge theatrical sets, symbolism, and performance

Milanese practice Parasite 2.0 has won the Young Architects Program (YAP) MAXXI 2016 competition with its installation MAXXI Temporary School: The museum is a school. A School is a Battleground. In its sixth year, the program to recognize young architects with a pavilion commission was organized by MAXXI in conjunction with MoMA/MoMA PS1 of New York. Producing "mobile sets that erase the boundaries between natural and artificial," Parasite 2.0 was selected for its ability to reflect the notion that contemporary architecture is the creation of a "scene."  This is done explicitly via the use of wood, rubber, and metal, all composed to form a pop-art-esque movie set on wheels. Vibrant colors, flashing lights, and even cactii cut-outs give the project the distinctive feel of Las Vegas. Among the symbols that adorn Parasite 2.0's sets is a crying luminescent emoji. Meanwhile, over-exaggerated forms and objects take on a satirical tone. The mobile scene, said MAXXI, will be the "backdrop to the museum’s summer events and for the thousand-like selfies of its visitors, but also a reflection on the disappearance of the boundary between space and its representation." An international jury chose Parasite 2.0 as the winner due to its "project’s characteristics place it at the borders between architecture, set design, art and performance." In a statement, organizers said, "Its victory was decreed by its playful, welcoming composition, the inclusion in the project important aspects relating to tis communication and “social” interaction and lastly its ties with a museum, theatrical and cinematographic construction tradition deeply rooted in the history of Rome." Parasite 2.0, primarily a production and research lab, is comprised of Eugenio Cosentino, Stefano Colombo, and Luca Marullo. Together, their work stems from the dynamic of architectural production and urban life. The jury included Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator MAXXI Architettura; Margherita Guccione, Director MAXXI Architettura; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director MAXXI; Monia Trombetta, Coordinator MAXXI Arte; Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of Art and Design MoMA; and Massimo Alvisi, Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners. The winner was chosen from a shortlist that also included Deltastudio (Ronciglione – VT), Angelo Renna (Prato), de gayardon bureau (Cesena), and demogo (Treviso).
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On View> Rome’s MAXXI Museum Honors Alessandro Anselmi

Opening this week at Rome's MAXXI is an exhibition honoring the late Alessandro Anselmi. Curated by his son and associate Valentino Anselmi and Valerio Palmieri, this important exhibition consists of 100 exquisite drawings, models, and watercolors from the 1960s through 2002. The show is organized thematically to lead the viewer through various aspects of Anselmi's ouerve: the Architect's Dream, the Geometry of Memory, the Figuration of the Modern, Fragments and Enclosures, Geometrized Nature. Among the projects on view are his cemetery of Parabita in Puglia, the State Archive in Florence, the restructuring of Piazza dei Navigatori in Rome. The exhibition highlights an architect who was in many ways radical, but fully inserted into the dynamics of the contemporary debate, but always guided by a passion for history, and intensely sensitive to issues of place and context. One senses his profoundly Roman formation. His vision—intimate and almost oneiric—allowing us to speculate on its possible metaphysical influences.
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Review> LOT-EK Designs the Exhibition, Erasmus Effect, On the Past and Future of Italian Architecture

The Erasmus Effect: Italian Architect's Abroad MAXXI Museum Rome, Italy Through April 6, 2014 The architecture and urbanism of Italy has long been an inspiration to architects from other parts of the world. From the grand tours of Lord Burlington and Thomas Jefferson to the establishment of the American, French, and British Academies, Robert Venturi's lessons learned from Rome, and the enormous influence of Manfredo Tafuri, Italy has been important to how we view architecture and livable cities. But now an exhibition, The Erasmus Effect: Italian Architect's Abroad, opening today at Rome's MAXXI Museum details how the world is enriched when Italian born and educated architects emigrate and find success abroad. The exhibit, curated by Pippo Ciorra, the Maxxi's thoughtful and prolific architecture curator (see his Energy: Oil and Post Oil Architecture Grids.) documents the " journeys, experiences, and stories of the many Italian architects to have found success abroad." This out-bound emigration by Italian architects is, of course, not new, and the exhibit documents the 20th century figures who left the country like Lina Bo Bardi, Paolo Soleri, Romaldo Giurgola, and Pietro Belluschi. The title, Erasmus Effect, is taken from the 1987 European communities exchange program that allowed students on the content to travel to other countries to study. But the exhibit's theme also documents the more troubling issue for the country: the inability of its young architects to have a career in the economically troubled nation. It also questions the problems of trying to actually create architecture in contemporary Italy, and what this means for the country's "brain drain" and future. Erasmus Effect includes projects by contemporary Italian expats: Architecture and Vision, Atelier Manferdini, Alessandra Cianchetta, Delugan Meissl, Djuric-Tardio Architectes, Durisch + Nolli Architetti, Barozzi / Veiga, ecoLogicStudio, Benedetta Tagliabue, gravalosdimontearquitectos, Vittorio Garatti, KUEHN MALVEZZI, LAN Architecture, Marpillero Pollak Architects, MORQ*, Paritzki Liani Architects, simone solinas, ssa | solinasserra architects, 3GATTI. The Maxxi installation is brilliantly conceived by New York City–based Italian architectural firm LOT-EK, who's signature shipping container architecture perfectly suits the "movement" theme underlying the show. Erasmus Effect opened December 6 and continues through April 6, 2014.
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Review> MAXXI Takes To the Highway: Exhibition Explores Energy & Architecture

One of the most curious artifacts in the current exhibition, Energy: Oil and Post-Oil Architecture and Grids, currently running through November 10, is the one you run into just outside the entrance doors to Rome's MAXXI museum. It’s one of those ubiquitous mini AGIP filling stations, of the kind you normally would find curbside in any one of Italy’s many town centers. The look is ultra modern, with a cantilevered steel structure sheltering a smartly-constructed metal-and-glass shed designed for the gas station attendant and his stock of replacement windshield wipers and engine oils. Next to one of the pumps is AGIP’s bright yellow icon featuring a black, six-legged, fire-breathing dog. The filling station wouldn’t seem so odd if it were not for where it sits: on the pavement just under one of Zaha Hadid’s flying concrete viaducts. The architecture of Hadid's MAXXI suggests a series of highway overpasses crashing into one of the remaining buildings preserved on the former barracks site. The miniature service station with all its loaded petro-symbolism seems to fit perfectly under the shadows of this massive Ballardian road wreck. Inside, the exhibit offers an eclectic collection of road-related projects tied together by the medium of energy—petroleum in the immediate postwar era and proposals for projects fueled by alternative energy now that we are experiencing the fallout from post-peak production. The exhibition is divided into 3 distinct sections—“Stories,” the historical section; “Visions,” the section interrogating new energy possibilities; and “Frames,” a set of commissioned photographs. These are loosely tied to the Italian landscape, mainly by association to “Stories,” the core collection on display that features an impressive archive of visual documents on the beginnings of Italy’s Autostrada—the toll road that now extends over some 6,000 linear kilometers. Each of these sections has it’s own curatorial team and particular approach. MAXXI’s chief architectural curator Pippo Ciorra masterminded the exhibit and curated the section “Visions.” Just how does this exhibit fit into the broader global debate on sustainability, resources, waste, and climate change? What kind of critical contribution does it make to today’s energy forecast? Energy is not a high powered show. There is no pretense to comprehensiveness. If anything, there is a prevailing sense of arbitrariness not only in how things fit together but also to how much weight one section is given in relation to another. Yet in this age of data overload, a lot can be said about presenting a subjective assembly of issues held together by not quite much more then osmosis. Energy is an opportunity to focus in a couple very significant investigations and see how these issues stand up to the current debate. In this regard, the show, the second in the MAXXI series that began in 2011 with Re Cycle, is worth probing deeper into. To begin with, there is the “Stories” section curated by Margherita Guccione with its rich collection of archival drawings, renderings, photographs, and tourist postcards. While the United States looms large in Italy’s early postwar imagination, these documents provide an interesting view of how the architects involved in this first wave of transport innovation locked in to some of the key architectural typologies of the time. Specifically, the Pavesi and Motta Autogrill restaurants, the AGIP stations, and ancillary infrastructure that supported the growing highway network, including the ENI headquarters known as Metanopoli just outside Milan, and a score of worker leisure facilities that were then considered obligatory for a company of such national scope. And while most of the architects names are not that well known to the general public, contributions by Luigi Nervi and Mario Ridolfi accentuate the significance of this push towards Italy’s second wave of modernization. Anyone who is interested in Italy’s historical postwar design and manufacturing boom will find this section of the exhibit particularly rewarding. “Visions,” on the other hand, steers through a much more complex and, at times, more difficult terrain. Ciorra handpicks seven architectural groups who, he notes in the catalog, are “part of a generation that are ‘naturally sensitive’ to environmental issues” and who come from a range of countries as diverse as South Africa, Australia, Japan, Korea, Great Britain, and, of course, Italy. The road matters everywhere, though this is most eloquently taken up in the work of the Australian-based group, Terroir, whose manifesto begins and ends with the bleak landscapes of Mad Max. According to Terroir, the continent’s highways can be harnessed to generate non-expendable energy, but just in case, the architecture Terroir projects is intended to outlast civilization as we know it. In keeping with Ciorra’s initial premise, the group of protagonists in “Visions” are not bent on presenting the latest energy related gizmos, but rather to engender a set of solutions that make us want to “crave” leaving our wasteful consumption habits behind. MoDus Architects from Italy, present their “Heads Up Highway,” a sort of elevated power ribbon providing 160 million square meters of energy generating rooftop. For the most part, however, the “Visions” section remains utopian. One example is by Noero Architects of South Africa, who present the small fishing village of Hangberg outside of Capetown that explores the possibility of a localized energy infrastructure woven into the informal residential fabric. Open Building Research’s “Right to Energy,” picking up on the increasingly popular Commons movement, advocates multiple intermodal means of transportation to cut down on energy waste. Or in other words, get off the train and hop on a bike. There are two in the gallery connected to a looped video going through the streets of Milan.   The photographic section, “Frames,” curated by Francesca Fabiani, could have had a much greater impact on the show if only it were given more space to breathe. Italians are incredibly sanguine in their photographic mastery of contemporary landscapes, and here too contributions by Paolo Pelligrin, Alessandro Cimmino, and Paola Di Bello give lucid portraits of the big and the small of the petrol industry. Perhaps this section could have easily eclipsed the other two. Which brings us back to just how much can a show like this matter, when the world is so hopelessly beholden to fossil fuel. Countries are plundered and peoples are massacred to ply this profitable trade. Nothing—thousands in highway dead, oil spills, not even biblical droughts and out of season hurricanes—serves to dampen the appetite for limitless oil. Ciorra in the accompanying catalog brings up Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1972 book, Petrolio, published posthumously. The architecture curator recalls the renowned film director’s concern with Italy’s moral decline. Pasolini’s lead character is Carlo, an engineer who works for ENI, Italy’s main energy powerhouses and one of “Visions” main sponsoring partners. Carlo succumbs to a deep crisis of identity that runs in step with the postwar mood of the country. Yet Pasolini in this exhibition remains an illusive ghost. Yes, Ciorra and his curatorial team have done well to find a simpler kinder approach to the energy controversy, perhaps in keeping with the notion that anything much harder will turn the general public off altogether. This lightness is what makes the show worth the immersion, precisely because it starts the process that greases our sense of collective responsibility. For those who continue to guzzle, there is the real the risk of getting burned by the six-legged black dog. There can be no doubt that this dog is from Hades. Energy: Oil and Post-Oil Architecture and Grids runs through November 10 at the MAXXI museum in Rome. Peter Lang is currently Professor in History Theory at the KKH Royal Institute of Art and Architecture in Stockholm, Sweden. 06-maxxi-energy-exhibit-archpaper
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International Winners of MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program

Here in New York, we're excited to see CODA's massive Party Wall installation made of scrap from skateboard manufacturing rise at MoMA PS1 for this year's Young Architects Program (YAP). But the annual YAP, which recognizes emerging architects and invites them to design and build a temporary installation, has gone global. MoMA has announced the third installment of YAP at Rome's MAXXI museum designed by bam! bottega di architettura metropolitan and has launched a new program in Istanbul won by SO? Architecture and Ideas. SO? Architecture and Ideas' installation, Sky Spotting Stop, calls for a series of mirrored sun shades that give height to the museum's courtyard and play off the waters of the nearby Bosphorus. The mirrored discs are intended to provide playful shadows and reflections during the day and can be uplit at night. The installation opens in June at Istanbul Modern. In Rome, bam! bottega di architettura metropolitan's Helium-filled installation, He, will float above the MAXXI's courtyard shading a grassy lawn and wooden platform below. During the day, water will drip from the installation to cool the plaza. At night, the mass will glow as a large, floating lantern. At the end of the summer, the Helium from the installation will be reused for scientific research. The installation will open on June 20 at the MAXXI museum. A third international program has also been established in Santiago, Chile.
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Architecture and Design Exhibitions by the Numbers

If your interested in how many people viewed Christian Marclay's The Clock exhibition at the Centre Pompidou (6,996 for its three day run) in 2011 then The Art Newspaper's yearly round up of the top exhibitions makes great reading. This year the list breaks out Architecture and Design exhibitions and New York's MoMA is the clear winner. In the list of top ten exhibitions three are from MoMA and two from Rome's MAXXI museum. The top ten architecture and design exhibitions in the world (with daily admission numbers and total attendees in parenthesis) are as follows:
  1. Talk to Me (4,942 / 518,934) MoMA
  2. Counter Space (3,750 / 82,145) MoMA
  3. Small Scale, Big Change (3,346 / 311,188) MoMA
  4. How Wine Became Modern (1,855 / 231,579) SfMoMA
  5. Frontiers of Architecture III & IV: Living (1,596 / 200,165) Louisiana (Northern Zealand, Denmark)
  6. Peter Zumthor: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (1,493 / 161,292) Serpentine Gallery
  7. The Art of the Automobile (1,446 / 152,678) Musée des Arts Décoratifs
  8. Dominique Lemieux: Imagining Characters (1,203 / 113,631) Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Monterrey)
  9. Framing Modernism (1,180 / 59,661) MAXXI
  10. Space & Art and Architecture from the Collection (1,159 / 236,427) MAXXI
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Urban Movement Design to Transform Hadid’s MAXXI for Young Architects Program in Rome

Earlier this month, we were first to bring you renderings of HWKN's planned installation for MoMA's P.S. 1 Young Architects Program (YAP), but now AN has learned that YAP's counterpart in Rome has selected Urban Movement Design's proposal for a series of sinuous benches and archways covered in grass and hanging plants as the winner to fill Zaha Hadid's MAXXI museum piazza this June. New York and Rome-based Urban Movement Design has proposed a series of morphing benches comprised of a wooden grid infilled with grass to wrap around the piazza forming various seating arrangements that provide new ways of experiencing the museum. Several ribbed archways covered with flowering hanging plants connect the benches. Called Unire/Unite, the installation will host the museum's summer outdoor programs in addition to being open to the public. The benches will later be reused in other parts of Rome to form a relationship between the museum and its city. “This is an inclusive and playful project that inspires health and movement and invites the museum visitors to live the space as a shared experience accessible to all,” the team from Urban Movement Design said in a statement. The young architecture firm is run by Robyne Kassen, Sarah Gluck, and Simone Zbudil Bonatti and focuses on accessible design that promotes well-being and physical activity. Both Urban Movement Design's Unire/Unite and HWKN's Wendy will open to the public this June and a third YAP installation is planned for Santiago, Chile this December. An exhibition of all 15 finalists from the three YAP cities will also be on display. Last year's MAXXI installation by stARTT, the first at the venue, included a grass lawn with larger-than-life synthetic tulips hovering overhead.

MAXXI & PS 1 announce shortlist for 2012 Young Architects Program in Rome

The Italian website Tafter reports that the finalists are 6mu6 (Turin, Italy), Rural Boxx (Sacile, Italy), Urban Movement (New York, USA / Rome, Italy), and Yellow Office Yellow Office (Milan, Italy),  and a team composed of John A. Salvator Liotta, Matteo Belfiore with Taichi Kuma and Yuta Ito (Naples, Italy / Tokyo, Japan). The winner will be announced early in 2012, with the installation opening at the MAXXI in June simultaneously with New York's YAP installation at MoMA PS 1. In bocca al lupo!
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Letter from Rome: YAP Opening Night at the MAXXI

Imagine a warm summer evening in Rome. Then imagine stretching out on a cool, grass lawn underneath giant Jurassic tulips the size of a cherry tree. Their glow softly illuminates conversations over cocktails. Add a backdrop of the serpentine jewel of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum, and you have theater. Rome is all about theater. So was the scene at the opening of the Young Architects Program installation at Rome’s one year old museum of art and architecture. Five young European firms were chosen as finalists by the MAXXI in collaboration with MoMA PS1's Young Architect's Program. The winner in Rome, stARTT Architects, installed 2000 square feet of luscious grass mini-hills inclined perfectly for reclining, so you can sdraiarsi, an untranslatable Roman manner of stretching out. Topping the hills are 20 or so three-foot wide tulips, each atop a six-foot curved stem. Semi-transparent red resin tulip-like flowers--a bit in the style of Avatar--light up in the evening and offer a bit of shade during the day. Mario Mattia, the resident architect in Rome for Hadid, had suggested a green space for the 12,000 square foot plaza court, drawing inspiration from a visit to the green lawn of Bryant Park beside the grand 42nd Street New York Public Library. But cut concrete paths and organized gravel won out--until now. Given a choice, humans gravitate toward the living and the green. StARTT architects managed to incorporate both elements into this built setting. So what did the user audience say about the installation on opening night? Papavere gigante! ("giant poppies!" omnipresent in the hills of Rome) and martini rossi! (martini glass-shaped flowers missing only the maraschino cherry). The giant tulips gently tilted your view upward to the rich evening turquoise of the Mediterranean sky, as you lay grounded on the refreshing islands of grass. A temporary installation? To quote another Roman, the emperor Hadrian: “Be attentive to the temporary, as it often becomes the permanent." Magari! (We hope so.)
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MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program Winner Announced

P.S. 1 and the Museum of Modern Art have just announced that Brooklyn-based urban design and planning firm Interboro Partners are the winners of the 2011 Young Architects Program. Now celebrating its 12th year, the honor means designing what by now is widely recognized as the liveliest party space of the summer, the outdoor plaza of P.S. 1 in Queens. Interboro's design for MoMA P.S.1 (Courtesy Interboro) “Simple materials that transform a space to create a kind of public living room and rec room are trademarks of this young Brooklyn firm,” said Barry Bergdoll, MoMa’s Philip Johnson chief curator. “Interboro is interested in creating elegant and unpretentious spaces with common materials. Their work has both a modesty and a commitment quite at odds with the luxury and complex computer-generated form that has prevailed in the city in recent years.” The firm has also been selected this year as one of the eight firms participating in the Emerging Voices series at the Architectural League. Much of their work focuses on urban challenges, from completing a neighborhood development plan for Newark, the first in decades, to a temporary park at Canal and Varick streets, Lent Space, with mobile trees, seating and walls. stARTT's design for Rome's MAXXI (Courtesy stARTT) Meanwhile, in Rome, a companion program called YAP_MAXXI in an outdoor space at the entrance of the new Zaha Hadid-designed museum, was also launched. Roman architects, stARTT, have been selected as the first-up in a partnership between MoMA P.S. 1 and the overseas institution, a model of a collaboration that could easily expand to other countries in no time. StARTT’s entry “Whatami” appears to be a series of discrete and turf-covered hillocks with Hadid-like curves constructed of various recyclable materials including straw, geo-textiles, and plastic. Recycling, in fact, was a key theme this year as Interboro also canvassed local libraries, greenmarkets, senior and daycare centers to see who might be able to use the rope and other materials when summer is over.