A Century-Old Roman Palazzo Grows A Faceted Glass-And-Steel Parasite

We’ve talked about top-down demolition, where buildings are deconstructed one floor at a time, ending at the ground. But a newly completed building in Rome, by Italian studio Fuksas, puts a twist on the concept: the old building’s facade was perfectly preserved.

The Palazzo ex Unione Militare was built in 1901 and once housed the Italian military headquarters. Eventually, the building was sold for retail space — and in 2008 a massive renovation project got underway. Because of its historical importance, Fuksas couldn’t touch the Palazzo's facade; Instead, the firm gutted the interior completely, from roof to basement (check out the great demolition video below). After clearing out nearly 1000 tonnes of debris, they built an entirely new steel building inside, wrapped with a gauzy steel-and-glass facade that wraps around the new building and sprouts from the roof.

The project ended up taking five years and $US220 million to complete — and sadly it seems destined to contain an H&M or Benetton. In fact, that’s usually the case with projects like this, since the only clients who can afford such a painstaking construction process are doing it for a very good financial reasons — for reference, see the Hearst Tower, here in New York.

Pictures: Gianni Basso via DesignBoom

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