Old-fashioned Rome?!

So far In Italy (Rome, Florence, Orvieto), I have so many unsolved questions about the city itself. First, never seen any skyscrapers! Everytime I walked on the street, I always surprised that how all buildings are keep the same style even though those were not built at the same time, you can say that it is one country’s cultural style but from my experience, among different countries I’ve been to, Rome has the most consistency in its cityscape, and everywhere we go up to the hill, church’s domes with crucifix are the tallest in the skyline. Connect to this, secondly, how most of elements of the building keep the same style for example their window, eaves, and so on that I can’t tell it’s residential building, or office, or any other use from its exterior. Third, how they manage the city planning between preservation and modernization. There are so many questions I want to cover, such as relationship between architecture style and politics, museumifiation, architecture as a bridge, connecting the next building. My post will be answering some of those questions from the fact and sharing opinions with all.

Abdullah Gül, who served as 11th president of Turkey (2007-2014) posted his impression of Rome’s success in preserving its history. “The only difference between photographs of Rome from centuries ago and today is that there were horse carriages on the streets instead of cars”. He also stated that how impressive it was when he saw the ancient city as “The hundreds of glorious centuries-old buildings, squares and streets are well-protected. There is neither a skyscraper nor a shopping mall,”

Contrast between Meier's Ara Pacis Museum vs San Rocco church

(Contrast between Meier’s Ara Pacis Museum vs San Rocco church)

Modernization? Preservation?

A big contrast between the historic and the modern could not only ruin new neighborhoods but also threats historic areas. I believe historic preservation, new architecture and new urbanism could work together to build an environment that community can relieve in that area. Someone criticizes the starts architects that start to mark their contemporary works on the historical site. There are many examples in Rome too, such as Zaha Hadid’s Maxxi, Renzo Piano’s Auditorium Parco della Musica and Richard Meier’s buildings. Here comes one of our very debatable architectures Ara Pacis Museum by Richard Meier. We had lecture with Antonella in here, and before that we had visited here during our walking tour. We touched so many issues, everyone starts to through up their opinion outloud. Starting from the financial issue and public vs private usage so on. First time we saw this building, compared to surrounding area, I guess people just start to critic about its unbalanced apprearance. My frist impression about the building was good since I was thirsty about sort of contemporary building, and it was the first one in Rome historic area. Briefly, I liked the idea of a big mass, the entire building felt like a shell to protect and focus on the monument, organization between the historical context, two open sides of curtain wall along with the river, connection between plazza and building with the use of thick wall piercing through exterior and interior. At that time, I wondered, should it be criticized only the reason of look different? In my first day’s note I wrote some pros and cons about the building, and wrote something about the materior choice. If the big white mass is a problem that makes the building looks so exotic, then it could be done with more Roman architecture style marble. And then it gose back to the financial issue. After the lecture, I got some idea of how political issue was influenced the design choice, Back to the point, I’m not in the position of judging them right or no. As one person of the public, my role will be understand the historical background and architects intend and enjoy the space!


The European cities’ height limit is more stringent than in any other city in America. Each city in Europe has its own restriction aimed to protect historic skyline. UNESCO has declared that construction of new towers close to World Heritage Sites will not be approved. However, Rome appointed a commission on Skyscrapers 2010 fall and opened 2013. It is called Eurosky Tower in EUR. EUR is a residential and business district in Rome, located southern part of city center. EUR stands for Esposizione Universale Roma and it’s the tallest building in the city and one of the highest residential towers in Italy. I would like to put this building aside since it’s not in the central historical area and I’ve never seen yet. One of the reason made skyscraper boom is housing shortage and about 30 million Europeans have been living in substandard housing. It means not only they are suffering from overcrowding, but also the housing condtions, such as leaking roofs, damp and so on. They could build a new town in suburb area, and could have more other options, however I assume, one day, skyscraper could be a solution that Rome has to consider even Modernist towers were not the right answer for Rome now.

Plus, something about today(02/10/2015)



We supposed to have a lecture with Antonella, however we misunderstood the meeting location each other so it’s rescheduled for the next time. Interesting thing is on the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO) I felt this museum is very insignificant in that neighborhood area because we had hard to find place even though we were so close. I would like to say it was not very noticeable(actually we were from back side), or maybe I was little bit more obsess about how contemporary things are unwelcome in Rome. Anyways, we finally found it, 15 minutes late for the meeting. I loved the building! Jess said to me right after we got in, it looks like my studio project last semester. Well, technically my project looks like this building. I was surprised too! small courtyard entrance, the shape of it, ramp and stairs around the big mass. Is it coincidence? or most people have same ideas.. It brought me one other question that I’ve think of, which is Italian architecture education. Especially in Rome, they have very restrict building style, is it possible to design their own style architecture? Antonella told me before that most of projects are going on outside of city center. Umm.. I guess it’s same for all and everywhere. Anyway It was interesting to see something I had studied, think of so long as a real version. One more interesting thing was on the way back to home, nearby the MACRO, I saw many different style of buildings than what I’ve called ‘Rome style’. I assume this places are pretty much new layers in terms of city layering. Also, little bit far from the historic center. I guess my obsession to see different style of buildings will be continued.

From the architect. The high-gloss roof of Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art was conceived by Odile Decq as a promenade linking the late 19th-century surroundings to the enigma of presentday art. Her design crowns the existing building, the old Peroni beer brewery, with a roof terrace that gives visitors the chance to see the city from a new viewpoint. (archdaily)

We found the MACRO!

Interesting articles





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