No factories anymore



Ex Dogana, Ex Mattatoio, Ex Mercati Generali, Ex Caserme…
How many times you have heard about the word “ex” referred to a place which was an industrial space?
Since the eighties we have witnessed a technological boost that gradually caused the leaving of industrial areas, no longer able to provide labor. It was easier to shift production centers elsewhere, rather than convert their supply chains.
The industrial areas were no longer at workplaces, but urban cemeteries of abandoned buildings.
Yet, almost as an ironic revenge, currently in Rome these signs of the past conquer a significant position, a fundamental element in the process of their redefinition. That’s why the theme of reuse of industrial areas in Rome is one of the main current topics.

Among the thousands of examples I could mention, what I believe to be one of the most successful recoveries of a former factory, is Peroni Beer factory.
Declared of great cultural interest by the Archival Superintendence for Lazio in 1996, the complex is located just outside the Aurelian Walls, near Porta Pia.
Designed in a period between 1901 and 1922, the complex covers a vast area stretching from Piazza Alexandria to Via Nizza and Via Reggio Emilia. The style of the buildings originates from the chalets on the Chinese Pavilion model and solitary retreat, typical of that period.
In 1971 it takes place the actual disposal, then in 1983 the government of the city of Roma begins the rehabilitation works.

As a student of architecture/construction engineering, I personally envy who has found himself having to get your hands on all the buildings that made up the Peroni factories! It would have been very stimulating to reinvent those spaces.
When I was young, the part of the complex which is situated between Via Mantova and places Alexandria, was called ” the Coin ”, because there was a big Coin shop inside, and was the center of attraction of the neighborhood along with the close “La Rinascente”.
To the opposite side there is a pedestrian very crowded small square with a few bench. Anyone passing there cannot help it but to look up to the sky and observe the towers of the former factory, with that typical orange.
Recently, Coin was replaced by a gym, the Sporting Palace.
I confess that sometimes, even if I have to walk longer, I go to that magical place to admire how it still looks great with its iron truss and glasses and watch how the sun rays filters through it!

The most famous recovery of the former factory is the MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome.
It was opened in 1999 and was later amended in 2010 by French architect Odile Decq. His intervention allowed a greater harmonization of the museum with the surrounding neighborhood.
The curves and the glass are the label of modernity inserted in the traditional forms of the building, which has reinvented the concept of the exhibition space. Admission to the museum is a must;
I have to admit however that the access ramp to the underground car parks and entrances to neighboring never fully convinced me…

Overall, the former Peroni factories have been fully recovered and reused in the best (or most) of their possibilities and they represent an intervention that gives character to the neighborhood and constitutes a reference point and meeting place.
In short: there was a time not too far away, a place where the Italian’s most loved beer was created and bottled by workers and now it houses artwork, pilates classes and stylish men in suits.
Nothing is as it was before, but every brick, every column and every piece of iron still continue to live and to project into the future.

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