The high-gloss roof of Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art was conceived by Odile Decq as a promenade linking the late 19th-century surroundings to the enigma of presentday art. Her design crowns the existing building, the old Peroni beer brewery, with a roof terrace that gives visitors the chance to see the city from a new viewpoint. The museum’s dominant colour is black – Decq’s favourite. In the restaurant, dark surfaces make a shadowy setting that is illuminated by swathes of light projecting down from arrow-like hanging lamps (“Javelot”) and table lamps (“Ma Lampe”). Both models, produced by Luceplan, were designed by Decq especially for the MACRO. I think it is important to look at these works firstly as outstanding forms of cultural resistance to a background of indifference regarding quality and an experimental approach to reality. They should also be treated as inexorable signals that in Italy, too, “it can be done”, i.e. that urban places can be generated as bearers of a different and problematic way of imagining public space today. The MACRO is one of these concrete examples to be surveyed and understood over the coming years. I say this because it would be gratifying to think that, every now and again, critics and magazines can afford to return to places that were celebrated at their birth, perhaps visiting them with the architect who designed them. This would allow us to check out how real life and people have inhabited, transformed and maybe even disputed the work of architecture which changed the fate of that particular part of a city.
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