Skip to content

Public Space

May 16, 2011

Zaha Hadid's MAXXI, a public space born gated and under the electronic eye.

Why can’t public spaces be public anymore? After a fascinating weekend of conferences at the Biennale for Public Space in Rome (sponsored by INU at the ex-slaughterhouse in Testaccio), today I accompanied a group from Miami University in Ohio around contemporary Rome noting the crisis of public space. Meier’s Church at Tor Tre Teste, walled and gated. Calatrava’s Sports Center construction site; visible from afar.  Fuksas’ Nuvola. Off-limits as a construction site, of course, but who knows when it opens what access will be like. Libera’s Palazzo dei Congressi isn’t really gated (and in fact dates to before this current trend) but the rooftop garden, one of the best features,  is strictly VIP. After all, EUR is not really a neighborhood but a corporation, EUR Spa (Inc.).

At the end of the day the most frustrating place was Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI.  It’s fine for the museum to be closed on a Monday as most Italian museum’s are—recent budget cuts to culture make this understandable–but why does the PIAZZA have to be gated, closed to the public when the museum is closed? I was once told that this is because it contains art, to which I replied that Piazza Navona contains a couple of Bernini sculptures and it’s open 24/7.   At least the nearby Parco della Musica is open on days when there is no music at the Auditorium;  after all it is a public space.

The need for surveillance and control is a symptom of bigger problems in our cities, problems that can’t be addressed if we ignore the symptoms.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Rankin permalink*
    May 18, 2011 06:07

    I just discovered a useful Italian language wiki regarding urbanism and public space:


  2. May 20, 2011 19:21

    Very well said, Tom. You have a brilliant and analitic mind! It’s a pleasure to discover your Blog

    Complimenti 🙂




  3. Kathryn Timmins permalink
    July 20, 2011 09:56

    I totally agree, why does the MAXXI have to have such an intimidating entrance?

    I recently did a small project about the local v the global at MAXXI, here is a short video about the experiment: (its only 5 minutes long)




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: