|Ambitious projects are at long last being proposed and completed across the 7 hills of the Italian capital. For the last decade, Rome’s architectural ventures mainly focused on the creation of enormous shopping malls like Porta Roma, the biggest shopping mall in Europe, and vast peripheral residential areas with no urban planning attached. Currently one of the most problematic and pressing issues at the top of Rome City Council's agenda is the development of urban infrastructure to help the many “nuove periferie” to evolve from “isolated ghettos” to appealing areas where people actively wish to live and grow. Pressure to put Rome on the modern architectural map has been steadily increasing as other European capitals have warmly embraced contemporary architecture and acquired prominent and praised new landmarks. Amedeo Schiattarella, President of the Board of Roman Architects Association explains the current situation: “Severe delays in the development of modern architecture in Rome have been the cause that called for a drastic intervention and the need of international major architects; now after this drastic phase is slowly over, we need to concentrate on a type of architecture which is useful to everyone every day. We need to have a more capillary approach to impact on the successful architectural development of the city.” With this spirit in mind 10 years ago, prestigious international competitions were set up and rising interest in the architectural horizon of the capital gave life to challenging projects. Some are due to complete soon such as the MAXXI Museum by Zaha Hadid and the Macro Museum by Odile Decq. This was all part of the vision of Rome’s previous two centre-left mayors, but as the capital
||enters a brand new chapter following the election of a right wing administration, architects fear discontinuity and, with anticipation and suspense, wait for signs of which new strategies will be implemented by the council. Some of the first architectural news announced by new Mayor Gianni Alemanno, plans for the Ara Pacis by Richard Meier aside, is the winner of the international competition to design the new headquarters of the Rome City Council. The offices are scheduled to move from its historic building in Campidoglio, to the area of Ostiense where a vast area is being redeveloped and aptly named Campidoglio 2. The area of Ostiense is a district developing just south of the ancient city walls, between the Appia Antica and the Tiber River. The area strategically located around the Air Terminal Station Ostiense could also see the birth of a mixed complex by Studio Fuksas and a few miles further south, Rem Koolhaas with OMA are in charge of the regeneration of the vast site of the Ex Mercati Generali. Along the river Tiber, opposite the Italgas gasometer, Rome’s modern age unintentional landmark, a new pedestrian bridge called Ponte della Scienza will connect the Ostiense neighbourhood with that around viale Marconi, proposing a major cleaning up operation of the area turning it into a jogging, strolling and cycling haven. A second pedestrian bridge is currently taking shape further north along the Tiber in the Flaminio Area: Ponte della Musica named for its vicinity of the illustrious Music Auditorium by Renzo Piano is designed by Buro Happold. Parco della Musica, opened in 2002, has played a pivotal role in shaping the Romans attitude to architecture allowing contemporary design to get a foothold in a city that has previously been sceptical and unsympathetic to innovation. In the East part of the capital, a major radical redevelopment is taking place in and around the crumbling Tiburtina Station: a
||new state of the art station is being built and once completed will become Rome’s main rail hub. The area currently hosting the highest concentration of work in progress and planning is the EUR, the southern area of Rome that was carefully and masterfully planned by Mussolini in 1935. The area, currently known as Rome’s business district, has since its conception been a fertile experimental ground for architecture: it is now reliving a second renaissance. Here the ambitious New Centre of Congress widely known as “the cloud” by Studio Fuksas is finally laying foundations after years of planning. The conference centre is due to be in good company as it will be facing the "magic box”: a luxury residential block by Renzo Piano featuring a communal greenhouse. A possible aquarium underneath the artificial EUR Lake is also being discussed and the Ponte dei Congressi, a mixed-vehicle bridge to connect Fiumicino Airport with EUR has been on the cards for sometimes. The district will soon also witness the rise of 2 new skyscrapers in the plot of land defined as EUR Castellaccio and Europarco: this spot is already the new home of the Ministry of Health, a new shopping centre and soon 2 symmetrical towers that promise to become an interesting addition to the local skyline. Rome’s path to modernity is not a straight one as issues of heritage safeguarding, continuity and quality control can be in conflict and are often the source of delays and uncertainties ensuring the whole development is ruled by quintessential Italian unpredictability. But the current projects show an active effort of the local and national administrations to finally allow contemporary architecture to enter the present of the capital and eventually…history.