City of science / Mixed-use district

location: rome, italy

developed in collaboration with Building Design Partnership | London, UK; Richard Rees Consultancy | London, UK; Burlando Architettura | Genoa, Italy

year: 2015


Our entry for the neighbourhood surrounding the new City of Science starts by acknowledging the specific nature that characterises this Roman district. It subsequently endeavours to turn current constraints and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths, through a robust, responsible and innovative urban and architectural design approach that enriches its urban context. Departing from a legibility exercise, we envisage the City of Science as an important element within the defining West-East ‘culture landmark axis’ that is Via Guido Reni, which links two important green lungs and a number of existing landmarks. Its location furthermore provides the opportunity to open up a second, highly legible and visually stimulating North-South route connecting Viale Vignola and its environs to the Maxxi museum area.


Within this urban structure, the City of Science becomes the lynchpin, with the intersection of these flows that occur through a sequence of logically thought-out public to semi-private nodes. These spaces are linked together by a green infrastructure, the backbone to this new neighbourhood. Architecturally, they are well-defined volumes wherein natural light diffuses through, enveloping the spaces and industrial warehouses contained therein. Slicing laterally through the lower band of these warehouses gives new life and meaning to their position, allowing them to actively participate with the channel of movement occurring to and from Viale Vignola. Furthermore, their orientation allows for the introduction of rooflights on the northwesterly face of the pitched roofs and photovoltaic panels on the corresponding southeasterly surface for solar collection. The extruded hexagons terminate at different points throughout the length of the warehouses. Inspired by a honeycomb structure, the hexagonal profiled elements rise above the warehouses, fitting in between the coupling of adjacent pitched roofs. Stacking these volumes creates an important statement within the site, providing a new visual stimulus for the neighbourhood and a new vertical dimension to the surrounding urban space.


The City of Science landmark is nestled by residential developments located on either end of the new neighbourhood to provide a positive transition with Via Piero della Francesca and Via Flaminia. The scheme provides a mix of upmarket, affordable and social housing typologies to foster the creation of a socially and economically diverse neighbourhood. Their ground floors become important opportunity areas for commercial and tourism-related uses, which generate active frontages onto the diverse communal open spaces and supplement the residential component. The design of these buildings seeks to reinterpret passive energy strategies that are typical of sustainable Mediterranean architecture, through the play of setbacks and projections, solids and voids, the integration of screen façades and the creation of temperate interstitial spaces.