Tag Archives: Museum

The Barbican Centre. A Quiet Confusion

A place of connection, a place of transition between two different worlds: the street and the courtyard. The former, a reflection of everyday life. The latter, an image of the pleasure of stopping, sitting, observing and thinking. Two universes governed by opposing laws: that of motion and that of stillness.

Streetfront
Streetfront

The main flow goes from the outside to the ‘inside’. From the street, through the Barbican, to the ‘hidden square’, where the magic of the building can be experienced.

In this fairy-tale place, far from the chaos of London, the Barbican Centre finds its natural extension in the square and in the canal. The building, under a spell, loses its form and consistency: it decomposes into white benches, lowering itself to the human level. This is the beginning of the breakdown process. The building regains firmness in the red bricks of the square and prepares for a last transformation: the dissolution into water, final step of its mutation from mass to fluid. The canal leaves a trace of the building’s origins: a brutalist image struggling in the sinuous water.

Transformation
Transformation

The barbican, in its apparent parallel universe, becomes one of the many types of architecture that surround it. Grey but green, the building stands out but does not dominate the area. It steps back, giving space to the preceding square.

Internal Illumination
Internal Illumination

On the other hand, the interior of the building presents itself as a maze: a disarray of staircases and spaces bathed in neon light. Dark, a bit confusing, it seems designed to disorientate, coxing visitors to wander the premises. Visitors willing to explore will eventually arrive in other gardens, in other solitary courtyards, in other sites of passage on the road back to the starting point.

The barbican is a place of movement, a place of investigation but at the same time a place of reflection. A place to find the quiet in the confusion.

Solitude
Solitude

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

Musée du Louvre. An Endless Struggle

The ‘Great’ Pyramid

Modern, provocative, rebellious. The new entrance of the Musée du Louvre is this and much more. Criticism has built its reputation, making it the most talked about pyramid in the world.
Eternal in volume and modern in material, it represents the architecture of two millennia in a single structure: from the pyramids of Giza to new, innovative technologies. From the first, it inherits the proportions and the form. From the second, the lightness and the transparency.

With its 21.60 m of height, it shines like a diamond in the centre of the main court, filling the great void and giving it a purpose. The light bounces on the solid surface giving it depth and consistency but, at same time, it floods into the basement creating a lively space, rich of reflections and soft shadows.

Contrasting Architecture
Contrasting Architecture

Externally, the glass’ immateriality clashes with the thick French Renaissance style, enriching it and depriving it. Here, a fight between different architectures and ideologies is engaged, an endless struggle with no winners or losers: simplicity collides with detail and transparency with the solid mass. A small surface of water separates it from the main bodies of the building, making the pyramid more like a sculpture rather than part of the building. The new architecture becomes the main character on stage and attempts to wrestle the limelight from the old one. All eyes are pointed towards the pyramid.

The question seems to arise spontaneously: will the pyramid succeed?

Boissons, Monsieur?
Boissons, Monsieur?

The Pompidou Centre. Inside Out

Towering Above
Towering Above

What is the best house for an art museum if not art itself? With an open heart and bones of steel, the Pompidou Centre towers naked above the French roofs of the 4th arrondissement. Among them it stands out,  an alien surrounded by mortals.

A myriad of pipes wraps the back of the building: not to protect it but to make it work. The engine of the Pompidou Centre larks in the blue, green, red, yellow, grey and white tubes, each of which carries a different service: fool-proof and ideal for any problem. At least plumbers and electricians immediately know where to put their hands!

Myriad Of Pipes
Myriad Of Pipes

In this transgressive museum, all the old conventions collapse, leaving everything inside-out and giving carte blanche to the men. This is a building for the community. A mixture between the ancient polis and the Bauhaus, where every truth is tolerated because democracy reigns.

For The Community
For The Community

It is a structure that fully belongs to our century even if it was constructed in the past one. It is innovation, rebellion, desire to go beyond and flip the charts. It represents all the expectations, all the great ideals, all the hopes for the new millennium. We cannot yet tell if all these good intentions have become true, since we are still sailing in this century, but certainly the Pompidou now stands in front of us.

Many say that this is love at second sight. For me, no doubt it was love at first sight.

Love At First Sight
Love At First Sight

The British Museum. Never The Same

The British Museum
The British Museum

Walk up the steps, cross the pronaos, rush through the first room, enter the main courtyard and look up: you will be rendered speechless. The modern roof designed by Fosters and Partners hovers above you. 3312 glazing panels – none of which are the same – frame 3312 triangular slices of sky.

This is the heart of the British Museum. The metaphor of all the different civilizations, whose relics are conserved in the museum. Like those different cultures, the panels interact, collide, work together. The result is a strong and stable structure.

New And Old
New And Old

Lowering the eyes, a second consideration comes to mind: contrast. At first glance, it is an architectonical and spatial contrast. The modern roof both holds together the different entities of the building and divides them, thus creating a new central space where the interplay of modern and neoclassical architecture is dominant.

However beyond that initial contrast, there is a deeper antithesis. This is hidden in the soul of the building: the people.

A museum without people is no museum at all.

The Main Atrium
The Main Atrium

Visitors come from every region of the world to see the wonders preserved in the museum. Sculptures, objects, books that – even if stolen – do not belong to us. Uprooted from their place of origin, they mingle among the crowd, in rooms where the frenetic movement of the visitors clashes with the stillness of the stone and marble. It is this contrast that shapes the building and makes it unique.

A building that is never experienced in the same way, because the people who walk through it are all different. Each individual with a distinct history, similar to the statues and the artifacts, not unlike the glazing panels.

The Modern Roof
The Modern Roof