Rome | XXI C Architecture

When in Rome, take a break from the ruins of colossal public buildings, lavishly ornamented palaces, triumphal arches and ceremonial gateways. Leave those magnificent banks of columns sprouting Corinthian capitals behind for a day, and fast-forward through the ages on an Urban Italy 21st-Century Architecture Tour led by one of our resident expert-guides.


  • Richard Meier’s elegant Ara Pacis Museum, an architectural gem completed in 2006 to enclose the ancient sacrificial altar. It’s a long, single-storey, glazed loggia, an understated contemporary container for the Ara, and a non-barrier between the monumental mausoleum of Augustus and the bank of the Tiber.
  • Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art, bright red for the central structure and black all around, but pure white for the exhibition spaces and a glass roof over which water flows.
  • The MAXXI (Museum of 21-st Century Arts by Zaha Hadid), a cavernous atrium, curving walls, complex volumes and intersecting levels make for a breath-taking sequence of public spaces mostly illuminated by natural light.
  • Auditorium Parco della Musica, built to a plan by Renzo Piano, consisting of three main halls of conspicuously curvy, sound-box forms, a central outdoor theatre and various other spaces, studios and gardens.
  • Ponte della Musica (Flaminio Footbridge) by British Powell-Williams Architects and BuroHappold.
  • Duke’s, bar and casual fine-dining restaurant of international inspiration by Nemesi Studio.
  • Library Pontifical Lateran University at Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano by local studio King Roselli Architetti.
  • Santa Maria della Presentatzione by Nemesi Studio,
  • Chiesa del Dio Padre Misericordioso, by Richard Meier, which transformed the anonymous eastern suburb of Tor Tre Teste into an attraction for architecture lovers and faithful tourists.
  • Testaccio-Ostiense-Marconi area, vibrant, traditionally working-class, industrial and once the site of the slaughterhouse and the city’s wholesale markets, it’s in line for some hefty redevelopment. Coming up are new premises for theRoma Tre university and a museum of photography among other cultural facilities, while already established are the Musei Capitolini annexe in the old Montemartini power station, Eataly in the ex-Air Terminal at Ostiense station, and a branch of the MACRO in part of the former abattoir, while a six-lane road bridge over the railway tracks, designed by Francesco del Tosto and opened in 2012, makes for faster connections.
  • Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre by Paolo Portoghesi in the verdant Parioli neighbourhood, the biggest in Europe, is a truly extraordinary thing.

Play mix-and-match with our suggestions here, never forgetting that Rome also has a remarkable heritage of 20th-century architecture.