Parco Della Musica situated in Rome is known for its acoustic and extraordinary architecture. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, this structure represents being a cultural centre in Rome today. Parco della musica itself means ‘Park of Music’ and often also known as the paradise of the arts. 

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Parco della Musica  ©Locationscout

Inaugurated in December 2002, Parco della musica finally fulfilled the 60-year-old Rome’s dream of building an international music venue. This structure is home to all arts and it can entertain every type of audience because of its quality, versatility and grandeur. 

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Location in the City of Rome  ©C Karlson

History

The history of Parco della Musica traces back to the early 90s when the City of Rome came up with the idea of transforming the suburbs or those places forgotten by the city development in urban areas. The aim was to fill these gaps with interactive and gathering spaces. One of such spaces was between the Olympic village and Flamino stadium. 

The project was won by Renzo Piano in 1994 and was completed in the year 2002. Amidst the process of construction, some archaeological remains were found on the site which led to the delay, those remains were preserved and the design was adapted accordingly. 

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Archaeological Remains preserved  ©C Karlson

Concept and design Philosophy

Parco della Musica auditorium enabled Rome to offer a classical music venue that could reflect the city’s culture. The idea was proposed of having three separate halls, in contrast to the brief which suggested to place them in a single building. 

The concept was inspired by having each hall as a huge container like sound-boxes. These halls were placed symmetrically around the central open space. While this central open space was also considered as the fourth open auditorium. 

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Schematic conceptual section  ©C Karlson

From a distance, the Auditorium resembles three beetles or grey shells. The various parts of the auditorium were also inspired by different musical instruments, even the material used resonated with the design philosophy. As the old archaeological remains were found on the proposed site, the position of the building needed to be changed to preserve the old remains.

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Planning  ©C Karlson

Spatial Planning

The structure hosts a variety of musical performances and is in close proximity to the Olympic village, The auditorium has three independent halls, each of different occupant capacity. These halls are connected with the continuous lobby. 

The main entrance to the site has access to the commercial areas, while the more intimate park area—complete with playgrounds and grass fields radiates beyond the halls as a quiet buffer between the complex and the city beyond. These 3 halls are termed as music boxes by Renzo Piano himself and are often given the metaphor of three giant insects, the beatles or shells.

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Zoning on the site  ©pinterest.com

The three main concert halls along with the huge central open space are as follows: 

Sala Petrassi – The hall with almost 700 seat capacity. This hall is used to host music, poetry, movies, conferences and is extremely versatile. The walls and ceiling can be altered according to the demand, for the best possible experience.

Sala Sinopoli – It has a capacity of about 1200 seats, with a movable stage and adjustable ceiling suited majorly for dance and music performances. It has one of the great acoustic flexibility and has remarkable elegance.

Sala Santa Cecilia – With almost 2800 seats, this hall is the largest one in the entire Europe. The main aim of this hall is to host large orchestral and symphonic concerts. 

Cavea – the fourth concert hall which is an open-air auditorium. It has the capacity of occupying roughly 3000 spectators. The planning is in the circular pattern, which leads to each function radiating from the central open space. It is inspired by the old Roman outdoor theatres. 

Along with these large three halls, the structure is equipped with—large rehearsal and recording rooms, workrooms, a museum of musical instruments, a comprehensive music library, retail shops, gardens, exhibition spaces, offices, bars and restaurants. 

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Interior of the concert hall  ©Turismo Roma

Acoustics

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the acoustics were in charge of Jèrgen Reinhold from Mèller-BBM for all three concert halls. The three-concert hall being built as a separate structure and all are sound-proof. The acoustic properties of all three concert halls are achieved naturally by using suitable materials. There are uneven brick walls at the front and the back of the middle hall, these create a different sound-absorbing capacity rather than having just the plain even brick wall. 

In both architectural and structural terms, the halls are separated from one another to improve their acoustic behaviour and joined at the base by a continuous lobby. In the large hall which is Santa Cecilia, huge cushions are hung from the ceiling, to achieve the optimum acoustic conditions. The primary function of these cushions is to break up the sound. The other two halls are equipped with mechanical systems.

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Cavea,  open-air amphitheatre ©google.com

Construction and material used

The material chosen is traditionally Roman, which suits the entire design philosophy. Thin red brick, orange paint, travertine floors are continuous between inside and outside. While this mix is used consistently over most of the complex, the interiors of the three concert halls are dominated by bright red seating and dark, American-cherry wood panelling. 

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 ©archilovers.com

The main entrance of the complex projects a glass-covered arcade with access to the site’s popular public commercial activities like restaurants and shops. The roof consists of a lead cladding that rests on a mixed structure of laminated wood beams and steel ribs, and its amoeba-shape contrasts with the strict geometry of the brick walls that delimit the halls. 

Also, the design geometry of two small concert halls is orthogonal, while the larger one follows polygonal geometry. 

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Bird’s eye view  ©pinterest.com

Auditorium Parco della musica is one of the notable structures designed by architect Renzo Piano. The contemporary-looking built-form is a bit unique for the city of Rome. But the structure has captured the essence of its culture and tradition. 

Also, the design was altered after the discovery of archaeological remains, which represents the functionality and adaptability of design. Parco della Musica is a great example of how the neglected spaces in the urban area which are forgotten by the city could be revived.

“When cities expand there are always black, untidy holes that then need to be filled in. This is the real gamble of the next thirty years: how to transform the edges of the city of those areas over-looked by urban development. One of the ways of upgrading this emptiness is to create places that bring people together or fill them with collective functions.” – Architect Renzo Piano

Author

Kimaya is a recent Architecture graduate. She loves to design, travel and learn through exploration. Her interests also lies in reading, narrating and capturing stories. With her designs and stories she desires to delve deeper into her passion.

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