Located in the Flaminio quarter of Rome, the MAXXI complex houses two institutions aiming to promote art and architecture through the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of contemporary works.
Designed as a truly multi-disciplinary and multi-purpose campus of the arts and culture, the MAXXI creates an urban complex for the city that can be enjoyed by all. In addition to the two museums, the MAXXI includes an auditorium, library and media library, bookshop and cafeteria, spaces for temporary exhibitions, outdoor spaces, live events and commercial activities, laboratories, and places for study and leisure.
I see the MAXXI as an immersive urban environment for the exchange of ideas, feeding the cultural vitality of the city.
— Zaha Hadid
The main concept of the project is directly linked to the purpose of the building as a center for the exhibition of visual arts. The walls that cross the space and their intersections define the interior and exterior spaces of the MAXXI. This system acts on all three levels of the building, the second of which is the more complex, with various bridges that link buildings and galleries. The visitor is invited to enter into a series of continuous spaces rather than the compact volume of an isolated building.
The two museums – MAXXI Art and MAXXI Architecture – are located around a large full-height space, which gives access to the galleries dedicated to permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, the auditorium, reception services, the cafeteria and the bookshop. Outside, a pedestrian walkway follows the outline of the building, restoring an urban link that has been blocked for almost a century by the former military barracks.
The interior spaces, defined by the exhibition walls, are covered by a glass roof that floods the galleries with natural light filtered by the louvered lines of the roofing beams. These beams underline the linearity of the spatial system, help to articulate the various orientations of the galleries, and facilitate circulation through the museum and campus.
The fluid and sinuous shapes, the variety and interweaving of spaces and the modulated use of natural light lead to a spatial and functional framework of great complexity, offering constantly changing and unexpected views from within the building and outdoor spaces.
Two principal architectural elements characterize the project: the concrete walls that define the exhibition galleries and determine the interweaving of volumes; and the transparent roof that modulates natural light. The roofing system complies with the highest standards required for museums, and is composed of integrated frames and louvers with devices for sunlight filtering, artificial light, and environmental control.
The MAXXI should not be considered just one building – but several. The idea was to move away from the idea of “the museum as an object” and towards the idea of a “field of buildings”. After many studies, our research evolved into the concept of the confluence of lines, where the primary force of the site is the walls that constantly intersect and separate to create both indoor and outdoor spaces. It’s no longer just a museum, but an urban cultural centre where a dense texture of interior and exterior spaces have been intertwined and superimposed over one another. It’s an intriguing mixture of galleries, irrigating a large urban field with linear display surfaces.
The walls of the MAXXI create major streams and minor streams. The major streams are the galleries, and the minor streams are the connections and the bridges. The site has a unique L-shaped footprint that meanders between two existing buildings. Rather than seeing this as a limitation, we used it to our advantage, taking it as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of linear structure by bundling, twisting, and building mass in some areas and reducing it in others – threading linearity throughout both interior and exterior of the MAXXI.
— Zaha Hadid