We are in the center of Rome on Via Giulia near Mazzini’s Bridge where there was an urban void right next to the “Virgilio” State High School. For this area, some proposals have been presented that have not been followed up, preferring instead to start building a parking lot that is still being completed today.
The contemporary architect who works in an area like this is now seen as a possible creator of distortions. Blocks that will remain there for many years to disfigure the view and the common aesthetic sense. Already in a previous article I explained that despite an attitude of careful research and willingness to bind to the place, even expressing its own architectural poetics, the result was in many cases not so appreciated.
One of the reasons in my opinion is to rely too much in the sign, to think about architecture in black and white as art critics do, but we are not art critics, we are executors who transform the territory. Ours are not just words but concrete signs that trace that groove of aesthetics and technique.
What is necessary to do so we don’t let that our projects remain appreciated only on paper? The first thing is to get back in touch with the materials. Each material has its own “spatiality”, not only must it be tied to the place but it must create architecture itself starting from its composition and color. Physics, chemistry, optics, each element has its own characteristics that also vary over time. The material therefore has a series of characteristics that make it an element in itself and that once inserted in the building characterizes its appearance in a decisive way.
What an ancient building has done over the years has already been planned by the architect who designed it as it will have to be appreciated even in the centuries to come; time as a guide to the project that prepares itself for the time that consumes it (consumes the materials). Not an ideal time, as some modern architects think, but real, that we touch and live. In this way we give that belonging to the place sought not only by the architect but by those who live there and in those places find their own well-being.
Here we cannot certainly remake the ancient, but from it we draw the methods using the materials of our time and the project for a design museum on Via Giulia was an opportunity to study and deepen this theme.
The idea is that of a structure that follows the contemporary lines of architecture in our opinion, mature to fit even in difficult and important contexts such as the historical ones. From the monsters of the 70s to the refined executions of contemporaries thanks also to the infinite possibilities offered by new materials.
The theme of travertine characterizes much of the project, the other part is instead a continuous band of bronze-colored photovoltaic panels that represent the latest instances of modernity and energy saving. As you can see i did not speak of forms, which are also present and fundamental, but of materials. From the volume we pass to the materials that must be examined carefully. How do these materials relate to the context, how do they tie together? How are they consumed by time? How will they be perceived by those who see them? It is important to have a perception of all the elements that make up the project.
In this case the choice fell on a traditional material such as travertine, easily recognizable by the Romans, while photovoltaic panels are treated to have a particular color. Here you see, the material, the color, the technology. But we must go even further, we must go even more in particular to characterize the forms; the travertine will therefore be squared with blocks of a certain size and the photovoltaic will contain a metal band with Italian design products printed on it. Each process follows another, a building is finished only when we have mounted the last door and painted the walls.
© Arch. Alessandro Plini (www.archihouse.it)
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