Architecture practice Odile Decq Benoir Cornette won an open competition to design an extension to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome in 2001, and are currently preparing for the institution's grand opening on 5th December. Based on an industrial and residential estate, the extension comprises two exhibition rooms, a large foyer, auditorium, video room, education centre, two artists studio, bookshop, cafe, restaurant, two levels of storage and a carpark with capacity for 200 vehicles.
The design extends the Museum back into an adjoining courtyard belonging to an old brewery. Many elements of the site restricted the design, with ODBC forbidden to demolish several facades and the structure of one of the nearby buildings. Subsequently, the new and existing entranceways are on differing levels, with ramps linking the existing courtyard to the Museum on two floors. The new structure also offers a terrace and public square featuring a fountain and restaurant.
A scarlet auditorium located in the foyer has been painted with various textures, the outside in satin, the interior 'ultra shiny and reflective'. The intensity of colour is further enhanced internally, with all 200 seats coloured bright red – a stark contrast to the otherwise monochromatic extension.
The foyer into which the auditorium has been placed is painted in a matt black with black basalt flooring, absorbing the natural light streaming in from the glass roof and floor to ceiling windows on one side. ODBC's extension provides two additional exhibition spaces – one 1,200 sq m and painted white, deployed under a black steel ceiling as a blank canvas for the artists' works, the other 500 sq m and connected to the original section of the Museum. A small space on the roof of the auditorium can be easily accessed and potentially used as an additional area for temporary exhibitions.
Blank walls on the terrace can also be utilised for artistic projections and animations, as ODBC describe the space as: “an intimate setting, a landscape where everything is made of folds, slopes, inclined glass roof, with refreshing water of the fountain, where trees soar up towards the sky.”