Amid the villas and palazzos of the tree-lined Valle Giulia stands the massif museum for nineteenth and twentieth century Italian art that Cesare Bazzani built in 1911. In 1933, the structure was effectively reduplicated to create a monumental neo-Classical building twice the original size. Typologically, the building stands in the tradition of nineteenth century museums. Since 2005, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna has been undergoing continuous change. They organized a competition in 1999/2000 with the aim of extending the museum and adding new exhibition spaces, while also adding a flexible auditorium and designing a new, architecturally significant entrance space. While working on this concept, Diener&Diener examined the possible expansion that Cesare Bazzani had included in his original concept and worked to adapt the unfinished extension that Luigi Cosenza had developed in 1964-1978. It is through his prominent frontage building “Testata” that the exhibition space is accessed; though as an unheated area it remains more closely associated to the garden.
The new wing extends the northern edge of the building to create an additional third layer. This new north wing, like the south wing, remains within the outermost limit as defined by the west wing. This allows the framed central wing to stand out clearly. The result is a tripartite structuring of the western façade in analogy to the south façade. Now the western façade stands on an equal footing with the southern façade and becomes a new entrance.
The building’s reorientation ensures that the museum building interacts with the other solitary structures that frame the Piazza Thorvaldsen. Moreover, its ensures the building has access to the square. The risers on the monumental stairway leading up to the former main façade have been made into contemporary billboards, as have the architraves. These announce the museum’s current exhibitions and events. The façade of the new building along the west side is transparent and has been designed as a vitrine. The stacked sculptures in the window convey the impression of a storage facility. Beyond the sculpture the visitor looks into the versatile auditorium.
The new exhibition space is distinct from the old building in that the spatial organization is not subject to any hierarchy. This accordingly provides the flexibility of different types of rooms that had hitherto been lacking. Currently, the development plans have been on temporary hold since 2003.
in collaboration with Peter Suter
Competition: 1st prize, 2000
Client: Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti
Location: Viale delle Belle Arti, Rome, Italy
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 8.168 m²
Exhibition space: underground floor 1.644 m², ground floor 1.780 m²
Use / Function: temporary exhibition spaces, new entrance
Structural Engineer: Proger SpA Engineering
Mechanical Engineer: Waldhauser Haustechnik
Landscape Architect: Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten
Lighting Design: Institut für Tageslichttechnik