Launch Slideshow

YAP_MAXXI On View Until Sept. 23

YAP_MAXXI On View Until Sept. 23

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    This year's YAP_MAXXI installation, by Urban Movement Design, start with swirling script painted on the piazza next the the Zaha Hadid-designed museum.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    The paint glows in the dark, and from the upper galleries, visitors can see that the script spells out the title of the installation: Unire/Unite.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    In an adjacent garden, the architects installed the Infinity System, a sinuous series of connected benches.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    The benches are made from ribs of marine-grade plywood, with sections covered in a concrete canvas material.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    Vertical elements support a trellis from vines that provide shade, and misters that cool the visitors sitting below.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    The bench surface is contoured to support multiple seating positions.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    Trained in yogic therapy, the architects designed the bench specifically to support yoga poses and promoted different movement therapies. The museum is hosting yoga classes throughout the summer.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    The Infinity System, with misters cooling the surrounding environment.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    A busy summer afternoon at Unire/Unite.

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    Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

    Throughout Rome, sidewalk advertising is promotign the installation, which will be on view until September 23.

Visitors to the main piazza outside the Zaha Hadid–designed National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome this summer will notice that the ground has been painted with swirling designs. It is not until they get to the upper level galleries in the museum, however, that they gain enough perspective to see that the swirls are not random, but spell out “unire” and “unite” in sprawling script.

Unire/Unite is the winning installation in this year’s YAP_MAXXI Young Architects Program (YAP), and the painted title—which, in a whimsical twist, glows in the dark—is merely the beginning. In the adjacent park, a walkway made from ground, recycled rubber leads to the Infinity System, a 40-meter- (131-foot-) long ribbon of seating. Made from ribs of marine plywood, with sections cushioned by a concrete canvas material, the sinuous form of the bench allows visitors to sit and enjoy the Roman summer and  supports a variety of body positions—even yoga poses. Some ribs extend first vertically to form a trellis for vines that provide shade, and then reach out horizontally over the benches below, forming a canopy. Like its American cousin Wendy, the YAP-winning installation designed by HWKN and installed at MoMA PS1 in Queens, N.Y., Unire/Unite is also outfitted with misters that spray water to help combat the summer heat.

This is only the second YAP_MAXXI installation. (The program, which is a collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, and Constructo, debuted last year.) Unire/Unite showcases the varied talents of it designers, Urban Movement Design co-founders Sarah Gluck and Robyne Kassen, who are trained not only in architecture, but also in yogic therapy, harmonyum, and a variety of other movement techniques. In fact, their work, as the name of their firm suggests, often focuses on active and interactive design. Recent work includes a cool-down room for stretching after gaming at the ExerBlast 3D gaming gym in New York and a series of benches, bus shelters, and other urban infrastructure at the 2010 Olympic Village in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Unire/Unite will be on display at MAXXI until Sept. 23, and the museum has scheduled a series of events—yes, including yoga classes—to take place in the piazza over the course of the summer. After that, the museum continues to run YAP events through Nov. 4, but the fate of the installation and Infinity System have yet to be decided: There is the possibility that elements of Unire/Unite will be disassembled and reinstalled elsewhere, though the specifics have yet to be released.