This year marks the debut of the YAP_MAXXI Young Architects Program, a partnership between MoMA PS1 in New York and the National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome. Inaugurating the program is stARTT, a three-year-old Roman practice founded by Simone Capra, 33, and Claudio Castaldo, 33. “In Italy, architects like us, under 35 years old, are not considered able to pull off a public project, but YAP shows that, we, as generation, can demonstrate the opposite,” Capra explains.
The firm’s name, an acronym for studio di architettura e trasformazioni territoriali, represents the partners’ obsessions with the larger conditions of the built environment: infrastructures, ecologies, and urbanism. With their project WHATAMI (another title provoking contemplation), Capra and Castaldo, with Francesco Colangeli and Andrea Valentini, created a series of artificial, turf-covered islands in the concrete plaza of MAXXI’s Zaha Hadid–designed building. Reconfigurable, these green pieces can be moved around to create spaces for concerts and events. It’s a sophisticated idea about urban ecology and cultural capital, since the project’s life cycle doesn’t end with the summer season. Once dismantled, both natural and technological design elements will be recycled and used to rehabilitate abandoned areas in the city.