"Generazione: A Call From Rome," a tavola rotunda or round table, was just convened at the Acquario Romano, home to the city’s Casa dell'Architettura di Roma. The gathering aimed to address a range of issues relevant to the generation of young architects just entering into professional practice. This new approach, according to Jacopo Costanzo, organizer of the tavola rotunda, asks architects to “draw from archives—mental, digital, or printed on paper... distant from the typical parametric and highly schematic rationales that characterized the last thirty years of design in architecture.” It is a movement asking for a break from the digital practice so dominant in the profession, and a return to a more locally and culturally focused approach. It featured two young architecture practices committed to newer and—for them—more authentic approaches to working in the world. UNULAUNU, from Zurich, Switzerland/Bucharest, Romania, and TRAUMNOVELLE, from Geneva, Switzerland/Brussels, Belgium, are committed to moving away from an obsession with digital production as the only tool for design and toward a new way of conceiving, presenting, and thinking about design. For example, TRAUMNOVELLE's three principals, Léone Drapeaud, Manuel León Fanjul, and Johnny Leya, claim to champion “a multi-disciplinary approach with architecture at the crossroads.” They eschew traditional client relationships and instead seek their own areas in which to apply their architectural educations. Instead of working to find clients, they imagine their own projects merging the conditions of contemporary life and then use “architecture and fiction as analytical, critical, and subversive tools to emphasize contemporary issues and dissect their resolutions.” Their non-traditional research practice is not necessarily a unique one for a young firm without commissions but these Belgians leave little room for a move into a conventional mode of production. The roundtable discussion by Nicola Di Battista of Domus, architect Giuseppe Pasquali, artist Nancy Goldring, historian Lea-Catherine Szacka, and this writer, spoke about the history of new approaches to architecture, the value of drawing as a mode of production, and the special conditions of Italian design. The commentators—from their different perspectives—all supported the new approach but warned about the pitfalls faced by past attempts to create new models of practice. It is hoped that these young practices were not fazed by these critics and instead that this first call from the home of so many other architecture revolutions will produce another.
Posts tagged with "Rome":
After nearly two decades of designing, planning, and construction, Rome-based architecture firm Fuksas's $262 million Rome-EUR Convention Center is finally complete, along with an adjacent hotel. Dubbed the "Cloud" due to a suspended white curvaceous volume that dominates the 592,000-square-foot space and appears to loom over the concourse, the convention center has been in the making for some 18 years with design work starting in 1998. Now, though, the building is fully open and accessible to the public. It's located in the EUR area of Rome—an area known as being a business and residential district. Encasing the "Cloud" is what Fuksas call the "Theca." The steel structure uses a double-glass facade to expose the cloud to passersby and give the white volume visual precedence. "The 'Cloud' represents the heart of the project. Its construction within the 'box' of the Theca underlines the juxtaposition between a free spatial articulation, without rules, and a geometrically defined shape," described Fuksas on their website. "The Cloud is the distinctive architectural element of the project: The steel rib structure... provides an extraordinary visual effect, and is covered by a 15,000-square-meter transparent curtain." Inside, visitors can access numerous exhibition spaces and auditoriums, part of a flexible space that boasts a seated capacity of nearly 9,000. Included within this is a grand 1,760-seat auditorium (found toward the Cloud's rear) that also offers snack points and support services. Meanwhile, large conference rooms totaling 6,500 seats can also be found within the center. (Courtesy Moreno Maggi) The "Cloud" and "Theca" are two of three elements that "define" the scheme. The third is the "Blade"—a slender 441-room hotel that lies next to the convention center. Fuksas sees it as being an "independent and autonomous structure." All in all, the scheme is touted to make between $330-440 million-a-year, quickly recouping its construction costs. A climate-control system will also aid the scheme's finances in terms of energy usage: Variable flow air conditioning mediates homogenous gains in rooms prone to crowding and photovoltaic elements facilitate the on-site production of electricity.
The Nolli map, a product of twelve years of copious research by Italian surveyor Giambattista Nolli, is a navigational tool that has truly stood the test of time. Completed over 250 years ago in 1748, the map has now found another breath of life thanks to app developer Martin Koppenhöfer. Originally engraved into twelve copper plates, Nolli's map was the most accurate representation of Rome available. While that may not be the case today, the map has retained much of its accuracy over the years thanks to Rome's preservation, with notable landmarks such as the Colosseum and Pantheon still standing tall. This veracity can be seen when the map is over satellite imagery of Rome, as can be seen below. Subsequently, viewers can explore how Rome has developed as a city since the map's creation. Vehicle travel was, of course, not a factor in 1748, though Koppenhöfer commented that "pedestrian navigation is very different… you don’t have to know every street or turn, just go into the right direction.” “In designing the present edition,” Koppenhöfer continued, “we have spent great care with the aim to be as close to the original as possible regarding the labeling and the structure of the directories. Therefore the app reproduces....[the] notation as provided by Giambattista Nolli in his indices. By selecting an entry you will be led to the corresponding location on the map. You can also browse by tapping on one of the numbers on the map to see what it is about.” Available on iOS devices, the map is also usable online. Here, courtesy of University of Oregon, the map is accompanied by a series of essays relating to the map. For example, The Walls of Rome by James Tice and Allan Ceen from the university's Department of Architecture analyze Rome's city walls from the 8th century B.C. to the 1500s. Using the map, they outline the city perimeter at various dates: "The wall circuits of Rome provide a frame of reference for the city both as a measure of its growth and prosperity and also as a testament to the vicissitudes of a great city, its image of itself, and the practical needs for security during times of travail and even during times of peace," they say. Another essay by James Tice, The Forgotten Landscape of Rome: The Disabitato, looks at how Nolli's map illustrates Rome's former uninhabited and forgotten places. Other texts look at the cartographic qualities of the map. As for the map itself, “The explanations of the signatures and line styles,” said Koppenhöfer, and “hatches and selected abbreviations are reproduced in their original form. You can access Nolli’s original spelling of the indices, legend, and other signs at the bottom of the English version in Italian language.”
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).
London skyline as battleground: Designers render 3D-printed chess pieces in the shape of iconic architecture
City skylines can seem at times like battlegrounds, with architects vying for superlatives of tallest, grandest, and bizarrest. Skyline Chess, founded by London-based designers Chris Prosser and Ian Flood, reimagines chess pieces as miniature models of the city’s landmark buildings. The ubiquitous terraced house, oft seen in indistinguishable cookie-cutter rows, is recast as the humble pawn, while the iconic Big Ben plays the rook, the London Eye Ferris wheel stands in for the Knight, and the Bishop is supplanted with The Gherkin. Meanwhile, Renzo Piano’s 87-story Shard in Southwark, London, presides as Queen, while the reigning honor of King-dom is bestowed upon the 4.5 inch-tall Canary Wharf, one of the UK’s two main financial centers. “In developing the idea we thought long and hard about suitable alternatives for the chessmen, both in terms of their architecture and symbolic value as well as their value on the chessboard,” the designers wrote on their website. “We believe that as individual objects they are beautiful and when arranged across the board represent something unique.” Lovers of architecture, Prosser and Flood developed their idea over a series of chess matches, modeled the pieces in 3D, and then 3D-printed them in injection-molded acrylic. Each piece is double-weighted and has a felt base. In 2013, the designers launched a campaign on popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but won just over $14,000 in pledges of the approximately $39,000 requested to fund their startup. While crowdfunding fell through, seeing as the site operates on an all-or-nothing funding model, Prosser and Flood secured investment elsewhere. In addition to trotting out its first architecture-influenced edition, Skyline Chess creates bespoke chess sets for lovers of the strategic board game, and has its eye on developing sets based on the architectural icons of Rome, New York, Dubai, and Shanghai.
Rome is home to what is likely the most iconic example of sport architecture on the planet. The Colosseum is a distant precedent for the design of most stadiums, but Woods Bagot has chosen to make the connection explicit in their new project for local soccer club AS Roma. The international firm has unveiled their vision for a new, more centrally located venue set to open at the start of the 2016–2017 season. Stadio Della Roma is a 52,500 seat stadium designed explicitly with the concept of home-field (pitch if you're in Europe) advantage in mind. The building features a tightly wrapped seating bowl and a steeply-pitched, explicitly-delineated Curva Sud section for the club's "ultras" or most ravenous supporters. Ancestral inspirations manifest themselves in the form of a circular opening and a floating stone screen that envelops the structure and rewrites the curves of the arches of the Colosseum in a sharper, more angular vocabulary. The scheme also calls for a large hydraulic elevator system that consciously or unconsciously nods to another Ancient Roman contribution to sporting venues. The new stadium's lift will be used for bringing players to the surface rather than ferocious exotic animals. High-tech training facilities, a Nikestore and a Roma Hall of Fame will be other new amenities housed on the grounds. Dan Meis, a familiar figure in American arena architecture, will be leading the undertaking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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. “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. 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.