The Italian Almanac

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MAXXI art centre in Rome

MAXXI Art Centre

Rome's futuristic new art museum MAXXI gained a fresh laurel after last month's Stirling Prize when it was named the Best Culture Building of 2010 by the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Barcelona. "It's a building that relates to the city in an exciting way," WAF jury chair Paul Finch said of the latest flagship creation by London-based Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, the first female winner of 'architecture's Nobel', the Pritzker Prize. "It's like a Guggenheim unfurled in paths of continuous space...a building that will still be spoken of in 50 years' time in the history of architecture".

The president of the MAXXI Foundation, Pio Baldi, said the award "confirms the great impact of this building, which projects Rome into the future". The MAXXI - an acronym that stands for National Museum of 21st Century Arts - was unveiled in May after 10 years' work to immediate acclaim from the architectural world. The 27,000-square-metre concrete and glass structure stands around a kilometre northwest of the city centre in the quiet neighbourhood of Flaminio.

It is Italy's first national public centre of contemporary art and actually houses two museums, MAXXI Art and MAXXI Architecture. It also features an auditorium, a library and media library specializing in art and architecture, a bookshop, a cafeteria, a bar/restaurant and galleries for temporary exhibitions and performances. A large public square in front of the museum hosts artworks and live events.

In the Stirling Prize citation issued by the Royal Institute of British Architects on October 2, the Maxxi was described as "the quintessence of Zaha's constant attempt to create a landscape as a series of cavernous spaces drawn with a free, roving line" and "perhaps her best work to date".