The transient qualities of the site, so difficult to represent in architectural drawings, are immediately obvious: variations in light conditions, growth of vegetation, and the expectation of future change are tangible. Hadid has referred to them as ‘streams’. At this early stage, these lines may express the whole city, the building itself or both. Although the image is still very open and abstract, the threedimensional context of the site is more evident. Rather than a series of cellular rooms, the visitor’s route is linear, with moments to choose alternative routes and enter galleries at different points. In an early sketch from Zaha Hadid’s notebook (shown above) it is possible to understand the importance of the fluid parallel and crossing lines that would become characteristic of the constructed MAXXI building. The strong black forms of the stairways and balustrades are reminiscent of the confident movement lines of that initial sketch. The complexity of reality is also revealed. These modulate the light admitted into the gallery and will be used to hang flexible exhibition dividers. The building has a richer palette of materials; the process of construction and the immediacy of the surrounding context are evident. Hadid has described the way to experience the contemporary artworks as a ‘drift’ through the galleries. Further campus buildings are yet to be constructed in order to complete this composition. At this stage, paintings and three-dimensional modelling are not intended to be literally translated into architecture, they are diagrams and images of what the building could be. The existing urban grain and river are represented and a small outline proposal for the building is shown sitting loosely within that context. The two long walls defining the galleries intersect and separate the space. Such sketches may not always be project specific: they express ideas and possibilities rather than certainties and solutions. The building replaces former low-rise military barracks and is set outside the city centre in a residential area. It is a practical way to test and strengthen design skills and an immediate way to reinforce what is being learned. Photograph taken during construction
When the architect considers the building at full scale, they must tackle another level of detail, complexity and design. The movement around the building exterior translates into the building itself.