Tagged: zaha hadid

MAXXI Padding: San Suzie’s preview of Zaha Hadid’s upcoming Rome museum.


The smart museum comes with louvered ceiling panels that open and close automatically with changes in the sun’s position. (Photos by San Suzie.)

Ever since the Guggenheim and Frank Gehry managed to turn a not-particularly-interesting regional capital into a must-see art destination, cities major and minor have been clamoring for their own contemporary art palace designed by a starchitect. Rome’s contribution to the trend is the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, or MAXXI, a colossus of glass, steel and concrete designed by the prima superstar del momento, Zaha Hadid. Several weeks ago we were fortunate to horn in on architecture writer and Rome Prize winner Cathy Lang Ho‘s tour of the unfinished building. The 20,000 square meters of exhibit space (more than 200,000 square feet) were still full of forklifts, cables, and bellissimi Italian construction workers; nonetheless, we have to admit that we were head over heels for the clean, open spaces, curved walls, and louvered ceiling panels of Ms. Hadid’s “Cultural Space for the [sic] 21st Century Arts.”

The only problem, as we can see it, is that the museum doesn’t have much 21st century art. Or much art of any century for that matter; its collection is tiny. We are hoping that the €80,000,000 price tag (that’s $108 million greenbacks) of the building hasn’t eaten up the entire art budget. If it has, they might consider turning the museum — chock full of graceful ramps — into the world’s most spectacular skatepark.

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Architecturespeak, novel edition.

So many words. (Photo by v.max1978.)

The finest piece of writing I read in all of 2008 was, without a doubt, Zaha Hadid Architects’ parametricism manifesto, released during the Venice Architecture Biennial in September:

That the parametric paradigm is becoming pervasive in contemporary architecture and design is evident. There has been talk about versioning, iteration and mass customisation for quite a while within the architectural avant-garde discourse, formulated at the beginning of the 1990s with the slogan of ‘continuous differentiation.’ Since then, there has been both a widespread, even hegemonic, dissemination of this tendency, as well as a cumulative build-up of virtuosity, resolution and refinement within it.

I think that basically says it all. But what, I’m not sure. What I do know is that this would make for some super snazzy fiction. So, I’ve taken a crack at the beginning of a novel:

Chapter One.

She iterated on the couch, optomizing her version of reality. Outdoors his car idled, a cumulative dissemination of all that was gravitating towards its natural culmination. She looked up. A question versioned. But there was no differentiating these events. Even a hegemonic dissemination of this tendency could neither resolve nor refine their inevitable swagger towards catastrophe.

Feel free to submit Chapter Two below. There’s no better way to start the year than by taking a dump on architectural pretension.