It is doubtlessly a great challenge to design a new city administration in a town like Rome with its unique architecture and history. Though the site for this project is quite close to the historical city centre, it is separated from it by railroads leading to Ostiense station. This scenario excluded any links at ground floor level; so the project’s character is influenced by higher residential buildings of the city district rather than by the old town.
It was our prime objective to upgrade the quality of the area’s urban life, which depends, to a large extent, on the ambiance of a place and its ability to attract people. Both the proportions and appearance of the surrounding buildings, and the climatic conditions have a great influence on this. As such we strived to integrate climatic considerations into our design proposal, making optimum use of the available natural resources.
The individual buildings are linked by a generous “piazza”. A modulated topography creates places with their own individual identities within the larger complex. Various amenities at ground floor level – a café, conference spaces etc. – attract people and draw life into the complex. Planted areas alternate with paved surfaces, and water features and seats mark special places in this generous urban “park”, which is largely free from car traffic.
The new administration building opens to the “Piazza”. The upper floors are recessed, producing soft transitions to the public space and merging the piazza with the actual administration building, which presents itself as a transparent, light and open space.
30 metre high “flowers” with a span of 16 metres each shield the piazza from extreme weather conditions and give it a unique identity. These “flowers” demonstrate how natural resources can be exploited in an optimum manner. Hard direct sunlight is softened by special protective foils. Shadow fields underneath the flowers attract people especially during the sometimes very hot Roman summers. Beyond this, the “flowers” act as sun-shading devices for the glazed building facades. Some of them are covered with solar collectors generating energy that can be used in the new administration building. Others can, thanks to their height, be used as exhaust air chimneys and are, therefore, essential for the supply of fresh air.
Comune di Roma Dipartimento III – Politiche del Patrimonio e Promozione Progetti Speciali
Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart with Studio Associato Architetti
Via di Santa Galla
2007, 2nd prize