Rome | A lesson in lasting design

Our first design trip of 2014 was to the eternal city of Rome; obviously not just a UNESCO and World Heritage Site but one with some real design flair. Having ticked off the Colosseum, Paladium and the Trevi fountain on the first day our lasting impression was what amazing bricklayers they must have been (and as one aussie builder we overheard confidently said ‘they must have had a decent spirit level back then Dave’, and he was probably right.

Rome wall

Rome ceiling

Next up on our list was to juxtapose our admiration for the roman remains with a lot of ‘how did they get that there’ remarks to ‘why did they put that there?’. Far out on the outskirts lay some extraordinary architecture from Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI to Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica Auditoriums which provided a phenomenal walk of contrast and scale in the afternoon sunshine.

Zaha H


The wildly curvaceous geometry of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI building cost a whopping 150 million euros. As beautiful as it was, we couldn’t help but agree with an article published in The Telegraph in 2010 on the building’s opening which questioned its ‘fit for purpose’: We may be only beginning to discover what the art of the 21st century looks like, and no doubt much of it will take forms that we can’t yet imagine. Such uncertainty calls for an environment that can be adapted in myriad ways. Hadid’s truly tyrannical building is anything but that. In short: it is a spectacular building with a misfit of contemporary art which doesn’t own its space! The building appears to have no future-proofing as such despite its moveable internal walls. We still thoroughly enjoyed it though and in a way the building is the art, it is the experience, and everything else is well… secondary.


Renzo Piano’s Auditorim Parco Della Musica is stunningly different to the MAXXI with a pleasingly simple aesthetic just as Wallpaper describes: beetle like buildings with a patina of lead work on the organic curves. Externally the materials and colours used recall that of those you find in Rome and internally it works just as hard. Floors and ceilings adjust to best suit the acoustics of a performance offering versatility to the space and materials are equally selected to this end; cherry wood interiors to aid different acoustic requirements.


Beauty and functionality seem to both be present here which easily made this our most inspiring design visit… the MAXXI perhaps only achieving form over function.


Wherever we turned there were interesting sculptural buildings to enjoy:


Still, amongst our favourite activity was enjoying the rich textures and patinas which can be found on the doorways, building renders, side alleys, ruins and ironmongery.

Rome Patina

Rome doorway

In all we would say go go go! We felt so inspired on our return and had full bellies from the local markets and evenings spent at piazzas. Our bijou airbnb apartment provided some creative headspace and Rome really is an inspiration for lasting architecture. Our recommendations if you have 24 hours in Rome are a walk among Renzo Piano’s auditoriums, lunch at Obkita at the Campo de’ Fiori square (with a quick perusal at the market), a stop at one of the many alley boutiques to include Nordic Oggetti & Design (contemporary design from young italian and european designers) and a hike up the wedding cake for uninterrupted views to the hills; un posto bellissimo.

Rome view


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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: