He – Yap MAXXI 2013

A temporary installation in Rome

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He is the winning project for YAP MAXXI 2013, the Young Architect Program organized in collaboration with MoMA PS1 in NY, Constructo in Santiago and Istanbul Modern Turkey. Designed to accommodate resting places within MAXXI and act as an urban attractor for the YAP program, the project generates an interaction with the outdoor spaces of the museum through certain key features: its large size, colour and playful use of water and shade. The protagonist of the scene is a large suspended volume, which with its geometry and apparent weightlessness contrasts with the imposing mass of the museum and its sinuous contours. He follows the movement of the wind, accentuating the lightness of the materials that compose it. The colour and transparency of the material, in contrast to the mineral quality of the context, gives a chromatic gradation of reflections that allows He to change his appearance throughout the day.

The deck below, consisting of a wooden platform and lawn, is spacious and flexible allowing visitors to rest in the coloured shadows of He. Water drips from the volume defining the space below, refreshing visitors and stimulating interaction with the installation. Some objects interrupt the horizontality of the deck and help suggest a place of connections: a large deck-chair is devised from the banks of the garden; recreational furnishings placed on the platform are designed to suggest different types of relaxation and be interpreted as an element of the game. In the evening, the platform becomes a stage for YAP events recreating a new centrality in the museum’s square, while He becomes a big suspended lantern, a landmark in the urban context.

The realization of He is the result of an experimental and multidisciplinary approach to the design process. The engineering challenge to minimize loads and structural obstacles (allowing the space below to be left free) has been answered in a structure made entirely of tensile steel cables (solutions derived from climbing), which allows the volume to be suspended over the square. Traditional craftsmanship has made it possible to create a textile volume, with fabric used from agriculture and nautical detailing. This has allowed the unprecedented use of a material whose typical features could not allow the flatness of He’s surfaces, and the interesting moiré effects of overlapping fabrics.

Client: MAXXI | Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo
Architects: BDR bureau (as bam!)
Team: Alberto Bottero, Simona Della Rocca, Valeria Bruni, Fabio Vignolo
Photo: Alberto Sinigaglia, BDR bureau
Site: Roma, Italy
Year: 2013