WAN Awards 2015


WAN Mobile
WAN Mobile
Previous Next

MAXXI, Rome, Italy

Friday 13 Nov 2009

She dreamt of Rome...

Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 4

Add comments | More comments

17/11/09 YL, Casablanca
I saw the project during its construction 3 years ago, but now as can see, the dream comes true now, Congratulation Zaha!
17/11/09 frank, los angeles
you're kidding ,right?
17/11/09 saifullah, islamabad
17/11/09 Sy Auerbach, F.A.I.A., Chevy Chase, MD
So again praises for a museum based on its stairway and lobby!

Going way back to I.M. Pei's annex to the National Gallery on Washington's mall, I have seen virtually no critiques which focus on the gallery spaces themselves!

I guess a gallery space needs to be so calm and able to accommodate any form of an artist's endeavors, that it does not appeal to the designing architect.

Zahid was guilty of this starting with her design for that Art Gallery in Cincinnati. The galleries are stuffed in the corners –forgotten – and the stairways are twisted and celebrated. That's backwards architecture!
Click for more ...


And as the MAXXI previewed this week, that dream came true for Zaha Hadid 

When Zaha Hadid was ten years old she travelled around Italy with her parents, stopping in Rome for the first time, and was dumbstruck by the history and beauty of the Italian city. In later years when she was studying architecture in London, she was able to experience it again when visiting her brother who lived in Rome. As if fated in the timeline of her life, Rome emerged once more, when Hadid was in the stride of her solo career, as the competition for the National Museum of 21st Century Arts was announced.

“This competition was announced in late of 98," she said. "I called one of the people who was an advisor, Ricky Burdett, and I said you know, 'is this project really for real? And should I enter it?'" And she did.

This week MAXXI previewed to rapturous fanfare from a myriad of press. Situated in a somewhat unassuming street away from the centre of Rome's cultural hubbub, Hadid's MAXXI lurks like a giant behind a tree, or behind a traditional facade and a steel gate as the case may be.

From within, the monumental scale of the 30,000 sq m building is instantly apparent yet cleverly broken up in the grand chamber entrance by the sinuous curves of the monochromatic stairways. With spectacle that would force a crick in anyone's neck, luminous criss-crossing stairways creating platforms and vistas, guide the eye to the heavens.

Moving throughout the building which is to house two institutions: MAXXI Arte and MAXXI Architecture, spaces are found through almost labyrinthine paths branching off from the stair wells. While some of the champagne-fuelled journalists proclaimed the building offered 'too much!' in terms of space, perhaps they will change their views when over 350 contemporary art exhibits and 75,000 architectural drawings currently lying in wait are on display. Judging by the mammoth-sized lift offering safe passage to the upper chamber for the same, it is clear that many of these exhibits will require a great deal of space. So too will the auditorium, library, bookshop, cafeteria, futher exhibition space and laboratories, for that matter.

While the cathedral-like halls are grand, they are at once bereft of the colour that would make them imposing. The result is a dramatic yet respectfully sedate canvas for the exhibits. But is it so for Rome?

Hadid made a clear attempt to integrate the museum with the fabric of Rome, maintaining a Romanesque frontage. However this only forms a barrier if viewed from straight on. I happened upon the MAXXI the night before the preview, on a bus back to my hotel. I knew instantly what the gently sloped block appearing over the precipice of the traditional base must be. A distinct Hadid aura despite differing from the majority of her works. From the other vantage point to the right, a perforated steel gate offers passers by a blatant tease of what lies beyond. But I can't help wondering what sort of view those living in the buildings overlooking MAXXI to the rear have, and if they approve.

Nevertheless, the resounding applause from the predominantly Italian press within as Hadid said her thanks, suggested the MAXXI would be considered an asset to Rome. In thanking her partner, Patrik Schumacher, whom she had 'spent many nights in the office' working on the designs for MAXXI, Hadid added praise to the Italian team, the support of the Romans and told of the inspiration their city had awarded her: “I would also like to thank the contractors who I think really were tremendously supportive in making sure this building went extremely well and also kept the fluidity of the bureaucracy running. But talking about fluidity it was very important and it was very symbolic for Rome to create a new design plan, to create a new area, a canvas for art, and for the urbanism of Rome...also I took from Rome the position of layering, the idea that the city is very old, layers that have been here for many years – this project is done also like a layering of many spaces that hopefully can give free choice, freedom to those who store art.”

Niki May Young
News Editor

More details and images

Key Facts

Status Complete
Value 150(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Zaha Hadid Architects

More projects by this architect

Bee’ah Headquarters

Sleuk Rith

The David and Claudia Harding Mathematics Gallery, Science Museum


Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Jockey Club Innovation Tower

City of Dreams Hotel Tower

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Aquatics Centre

Al Wakrah Stadium

Heydar Aliyev Center

Library & Learning Centre, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Related Companies Residential Building

Design Museum

Al Wakrah Stadium

One Thousand Museum

King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station

The Changsha Meixi Lake International Culture & Arts Centre

CityLife Milano

Wangjing SOHO / Meiquan 22nd Century

Japan National Stadium

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

Galaxy SOHO

Pierres Vives Building

Zaha Hadid is 'Leading Woman'


Heydar Aliyev Fire

Zaha Hadid becomes a dame

NurnbergMesse Exhibition Centre

Innovation Tower, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Central Bank of Iraq Headquarters

Zaha Hadid Architects

Evelyn Grace Academy

Riverside Museum

Elk Grove Civic Center

Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Guangzhou Opera House


Aquatics Centre

Rabat Grand Theatre

Evelyn Grace Academy

Eleftheria Square

Library & Learning Centre – University of Economics & Business Vienna

Broad Museum Groundbreaking

King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art

Middle East Centre

Broad Art Museum, East Lansing

Aquatics Centre


Zaha Hadid Burnham Pavilion

J.S. Bach at Manchester Art Gallery

Seville University Library

Cairo Expo City

Stone Towers

Guangzhou Opera House

Burnham Pavilion

Regium Waterfront - Museum of the Mediterranean

Dorobanti Tower

Port House

Library and Learning Centre (LLC), University of Economics & Business

Riverside Museum

Venice Biennale

Capital Hill Residence

Farrer Road residential towers

2012 Olympic Aquatic Centre


Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion

Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum

Dellis Cay

Chanel mobile art

Madrid Civil Court of Justice

2012 Aquatic Centre

Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum

Lilium Tower

The Nordkettenbahnen funicular

Guangzhou Opera House

Innovation Tower for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Peninsula of Zorrozaurre

Glasgow Transport Museum

Serpentine Gallery

The Opus Project

City Academy Project

Expocentre Exhibition Halls and Residential Tower Project

Aquatics Centre

Nuragic & Contemporary Art Museum

The Maggie's Centre

Pierres Vives

Forest of towers

Zaha Hadid: 30 Years of Architecture

Edifici Campus

University of Seville - library

Phaeno Science Centre

Aquatic Centre


Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site