Museum Of The Ara Pacis. Caged Or Freed?

Ara Pacis Museum
Ara Pacis Museum

The Ara Pacis was and is an altar to the greatness of Rome, an altar of ideals and hopes. Forgotten but rediscovered. Rebuilt but eradicated. Idolised but caged. Now it sits imprisoned behind white bars, while the citizens invoke freedom for it. Criticism resonates from every part of the capital, loud and clear not unlike most Italians.

The first disputed element is the appointment of an American architect: Richard Meier. The second – subsequent to the first – is a more modern box that surrounds and over shades the first. The third is the fussy taste of the boot’s inhabitants for everything that is not marked as Italian style or Made in Italy.

Ara Pacis Museum
Behind The White Bars

The result of this senseless equation is that the citizens of Rome do not appreciate the Ara Pacis Museum and do not accept that this is the perfect building to preserve the altar of Augustus. After all, every important gift has an equally beautiful package.

With its sharp edges and pure forms, the Ara Pacis Museum succeeds in its role as a container to something greater. Crisp, regular, functional it is made to enhance its content, also visible from outside through the large rectangular windows. The materials are also in perfect agreement: white and cream dominate among marble, plaster and travertine, allowing the spotlight to be on the ancient roman ruin.

Ara Pacis Museum
Material Palette

The simplicity of its structure resembles that of the altar: as the largest matryoshka protects the smaller one, the modern building protects the old one. The architect simply had the problem of harmonious containment, as the outer parallelepiped is perpendicular to the inner one.

It seems almost impossible that the Ara Pacis Museum is not appreciated given the careful and innovative, but above all respectful design. Using new technologies and materials, the building is an open shell not afraid to make its pearl shine.

Even the ancient Romans would agree: they were always at the forefront!

Ara Pacis Museum
Simple And Functional

Saint Peter’s Basilica. Scale, Power, Wealth

St. Peter's Basilica
Ostentatious Interior

Progressing through the maze of columns, towards the centre of Bernini’s eclipse, we find ourselves in front of an imposing white wall, the Dover’s cliff of Rome: Saint Peter’s Basilica. Decorated to the last detail, it can only be compared to the English steep rock face for its whiteness and grandeur. In all other aspects, we can say that the craft of man equalled if not surpassed the force of nature.

Behind this marble screen lies a rainbow of colours: all we need is to traverse across the square, the narthex and the bronze entrance doors to finally appreciate it. The tonal contrast between the façade and the inside is solved using a style where everything is allowed: the Baroque. The result is an unexpected harmony and a general revelation.

Inside, lit only by dim lights, hides the true richness of the church. Paintings, sculptures, ornaments. At first sight, we are left wondering why so much ostentation exists in a place where other ideologies are professed, but then we inevitably forget our concerns, too astonished to put one thought after the other.

St. Peter's Basilica
Endless Space

Dwarfed by the many pillars, the smallness of humankind falls upon us. We are merely ants in the middle of secular trees: lost and amazed. With no power but ourselves, smiths of these great heights. In the naves of the basilica, we feel at the mercy of the space, crushed by the eternal fear and search for the infinite.

Perplexed between the precious stones, the marbles and the gold, we do not know where to focus our eyes. A surreal light descends from the dome flooding the nave, a white light that renders the colours more vivid. Dazzling, it leaves us even more lost, even more surprised and speechless.

We always end up looking at the ceiling and the dome: so distant and unreachable like all the things we crave.

St. Peter's Basilica
Distant And Unreachable