Friday, March 1, 2013


Piano’s Parco della Musica in Rome is intriguing. When Piano was selected to design the new accommodation annexed to le Corbusier’s famous chapel of Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp, in France, he chose to build underground in what seems to be a grand obeisance to the Master and his masterpiece. The new building is tucked into a hillside and is covered with, draped with planting, pretending not to be there. It offers a minimal presence as it sits below the chapel to one side of the path that approaches the hilltop. It is interesting to note that in the small, private chapel space in this subterranean building, Piano has referenced the core form of the Corbusian sculptural mass in an end-of-wall detail - the axis mundi: see  The question is: has he done it again?

On seeing forms of the Parco della Musica, one has to ask if Piano has been totally entranced by the experience of working close to Corbusier’s beautiful little chapel and its iconic, memorable massing. The new cultural centre in Rome has echoes of Ronchamp in its heaving, swelling, layering and lapping. The metal claddings even take on the same appearance as the concrete, inverted ‘crab shell’ roof mass of Corbusier’s vision with its fine markings from the carefully crafted timber formwork. One has to ponder: Is Parco della Musica a further acknowledgement of the power of the Corbusier’s genius? Is Piano’s referencing subliminal?

nearing completion: october 2011

the subtle reference to Corbusier's chapel - the axis mundi as a tapered wall

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