Zaha Hadid, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome

Zaha Hadid, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome


(jazzy piano music) Voiceover: We’re just
north of the center of Rome looking at Zaha Hadid’s
relatively new building, the Maxxi Museum, devoted
to 21st century art. As we approached the museum
we walked by military barracks and we just begin to spot the concrete facade of the museum resting gently on the older buildings, poking its nose around
the older buildings. Until we walked into a large piazza where the full whiff of
the building is apparent. Voiceover: In some ways it
seems to have almost landed on that older structure. Voiceover: The fact that
it feels like it’s landed suggest weightlessness despite the fact that it is an almost
unbroken slab of concrete and that’s in part because of the shadow created by the overhang of that concrete reminiscent of
the international style and the work of people like Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. Voiceover: In the facade of the building, rows of metallic columns
that might remind us of Bernini’s piazza at St. Peter’s. Voiceover: There’s also
the historical precedent of this concrete material that
the ancient Romans perfected and used to shape space and she is very much the
inheritor of that tradition. Voiceover: Although we
don’t see those round arches like a Roman aqueduct or the Pantheon, it’s almost like those round arches have tilted and become horizontal and moved the visitor to the museum through ribbons of space. Voiceover: Zaha Hadid has
won virtually every major international architectural price. Voiceover: She was born in Iraq
but is a British architect. She holds faculty positions
at numerous universities all over the world. Voiceover: Right after school she had worked for Rem Koolhaas at his Office for
Metropolitan Architecture. This was one of the most inventive and theoretically important
architectural firms in the 1970s and 1980s. Voiceover: Hadid is
clearly drawing inspiration from modernism, from constructivism, from the work of the
great Russian painters of the early 20th century like Malevich, embodying early 20th century Utopianism about the modern city. Voiceover: In the warm
grace of the concrete, in the silvery grace of the metal flooring and in the blacks and whites. It reminds me of the
interest in translucency, transparency and opaqueness that you see especially in the work of
artists like Moholy-Nagy. in the early part of the 20th century, as well as an abashed interest in the power of pure geometry. Voiceover: Looking toward Islamic art as well as modernist architecture. Voiceover: In fact, she
mentions the importance of having seen the minaret at Samarra. This massive figure
that creates very clean, stark geometric lines and that creates a ribbon for people to walk up. Voiceover: There is that
sense of ribbons of space, that path around the minaret coming undone and branching out when we walk through the spaces of the museum. There is something very exciting about moving through this building and not knowing what one
will come across next. No matter which galleries we go into, we’re drawn back to
this fabulous stairways that are black but lit
underneath with white light. Voiceover: We’re walking on metal grids and this entire interior
space seems to be a contrast between this wonderful curvilinear ribbons and strict rectilinear geometries. Voiceover: We see those
rectilinear geometries in the walls withe the blocks of concrete, in the stairs and in the concrete beams that almost read these
blades along the ceiling. Voiceover: Our eye
shoots along those beams and are slowed only by
the thins of the louvers. Voiceover: The stairways move like bends in and around those rectilinear shapes and feel very playful. Voiceover: The staircase is not only bend but also double back
creating sharp angles. They do feel playful, almost as if you could have a huge metal ball that runs along as if they were a track. There’s also a hint of the sinister and at least one critic has likened it to the Prince of Piranesi in the way that they seem
to move in every direction with endless multiplication. Voiceover: Of different
spaces weaving together and going back out again. Voiceover: Sometimes rushing
from one space to another and sometimes slowing down. Voiceover: The architect
said, and I’m quoting here, “My first idea was about a
delta where the mainstreams become the galleries and minor ones become bridges which connect to them.” Of course, a delta is a river that forks and flows into the sea. Voiceover: What does it mean to design a museum in the 21st century? If you think about the history of museums, they’re generally palaces
that have been re-purposed. For example, the Leuven, Paris which was the royal residence of the King fo France or here in Rome, the Vatican
Museum is the Papal palace. Voiceover: You could think about
many of the palazzi in Rome that were once family
palaces that are now museums. Voiceover: The Barberini
Palace, for example. Voiceover: We could think about the early modernist architecture of the Museum of Modern Art. Museum architecture says a lot about how we see ourselves and how
we see our cultural heritage and how we move into the future. Do we look to the past? Do we look forward? Voicover: That’s an especially
salient issue here in Rome. A city with an overwhelming history. [jazzy piano music]

10 thoughts on “Zaha Hadid, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome

  1. I like the way you explained this building. You gave me a lot of new points of view to understand better the modern architecture. Thanks!

  2. as an arch student, I find it fascinating how her adaptation of curvilinear space is further tied in with the idea of a delta. The connection to ancient egypt is pleasing. I like the aesthetic of mies's buildings from exposing materials and adding life to his style is wonderful. I like how zaha hadid incorporates advanced 3d software to push the limits of the building envelope; embracing technology is wonderful. One day I hope to also design buildings like these with lively curvilinear space, lighting, and to incorporate sensors and electronics to react to user presence. Light is key of course, but I also think smell, sounds, pressure, should be controlled. I hope that combining my arduino and drafting skills will help me push the limits just like zaha hadid.

  3. The fact that Zaha designed a museum for the future is a unique feat. The museums of Rome, as mentioned in the introduction, were palaces turned into museums. The former architects designed the past that they knew and touched. Zaha was given the task of imagining the future which she had to dream to achieve. Zaha was given the task of designing a museum for the future and she succeeded brilliantly.

  4. I visited this museum last summer. I lost the feeling of time and I missed my flight because of this museum. RIP Zaha

  5. Zaha is a woman and she is Muslim/Arab. So all the garbage that she makes is worshipped in the PC suffering West. It is just a horrific gray piece of concrete, which you find everywhere in the poor world that cant afford to make the concrete less harrowing. Total repulsive trash. Her work will be all bulldozed as soon as she dies and the PC era comes to an end. They have absolutely no artistic value: in fact, they are anti-art. Look at the works of F.L. Wright or other Bauhaus designers and compare to this scary warehouse she designs. Laughable that she tells the gullible westerners that these shape she got from Samarra in Iraq, where taste, decoration, magnificent designs 1200 years ago was the denominator! Ugggghhhhh. Zaha, crawl back under the rock of distaste where you came from. I wished the PC victimized westerners would one day see this rubbish for what it is. So sad

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