City of Science of Rome
Director of the Organizational Unit for Science Museums
of the Municipal Superintendent's Office
is about to lose an unequalled distinction: or rather the
unenviable distinction of being the lone capital of a major
nation without a grand museum of science, a center for the
spread of scientific knowledge, for the entire public, without
Rome has made enormous progress in recent years in rendering
it immense archeological and artistic heritage more available,
but it would have been a dire error to have stopped at this
point. Instead, the need was felt to take an additional (and,
today, inevitable) step, making the already significant cultural
initiatives under way even more global and fully integrated
by focusing interest on an effective reinforcement of scientific
It is with this in mind that the grand, ambitious project
for Rome's City of Science now gets under way, with the goal
being to erase the gap which separates our city from the other
20 years of working proposals, projects and unsuccessful attempts
have at least contributed to underlining the Capital's rich
store of scientific resources, as well as the equally massive
quantity and quality of scientific and museum skills found
in the City, at the same time establishing important instances
of synergy between universities, the Central State and the
regional, provincial and municipal governments.
the project becomes reality
order to oversee the project, the City called on Antonio Ruberti,
a key figure in Italian scientific culture, who has gathered
a great store of experience as a scientist and a teacher,
as the director of Italy's largest university and as a minister
of the Republic.
is more, the City created a new and specific sector of the
Municipal Superintendent's Office devoted to scientific museums
the advancement of scientific culture.
He appointed a commission of experts which, without clamour,
worked throughout 1999, formulating the guidelines for Rome's
City of Science project.
Finally, he financed the initial stage of the project with
funds of the "Rome Capital" program, achieving the
start-up of the concrete operations necessary for such an
The City Administration has focused particular attention on
finding an appropriate location for the new structure. The
initial policy decision was that Rome's City of Science should
be established in the urban zone of the Ostiense quarter,
which played such a significant role in Rome's technology
and industry during the last century, and today needs a thorough
restoration. Many similar elements have already been located
in the area: the Third University, "The Machines and
Gods" facility at the old Montemartini power plant, the
India Theater at the former Mira Lanza factory and the recycling
of the former slaughterhouse; other complexes, such as the
General Markets, are soon to be relocated, opening up highly
An abandoned area suffering from significant decay, but nevertheless
fascinating, with major instances of urban archeology and
the added value of its location near the river, revolves around
the large natural gas silo in the Italgas complex. It is this
"Gazometro" area which is to be set aside for the
City of Science.
How? By setting up a planning procedure characterized by a
streamlined operating logic.
In planning a museum, it is rare to be able to start with
the "contents" and then work on find the most suitable
"container". Common practice has more often been
the adjustment of the contents to suit an existing container.
And so significant strategic importance, and adequate resources,
are currently being allocated to the project of the conceptual
and material contents of Rome's City of Science.
This phase will immediately be followed by a competition for
the architectural design of the container, together with the
exploration and formulation of the most appropriate operating
format for the entire complex.
While these planning and organizational phases move ahead,
plans call for a series of diversified scientific events to
act as a calling card and showcase for the City of Science
project, both in Italy and abroad.
In the four years that follow, the entire project is to be
completed, covering an estimated surface area of more than
three hectares, for total space of over 30,000 square meters.
The creation of a complex structure with such important cultural
significance, and of such dimensions, obviously calls for
major financing. A plausible cost estimate points to investments
for approximately 200 billion lire, all of which can definitely
not come from the City budget, but must be raised through
appropriate synergy between the Central State and local government
Today the process for the creation of the new Roman structure
officially gets under way with the publication of the first
and all-important calls for tenders for the identification
and planning of the contents of Rome's City of Science.
The Scientific Commission, appointed by the Department of
Cultural Policy, has identified and proposed to the Administration
a conceptual sequence and a proposed structure for the interior
of the system of the City of Science which can make the Roman
structure a beacon of excellence on a world level, and which
are illustrated in detail in the guidelines presented at the
end of the Commission's work.
The winner of the contract tender is to transform these guidelines
drawn up by the Commission into a unified project characterized
by advanced formulations in the field of scientific culture,
communicated by means of languages and methodologies projected
towards the future.
The level of integration, coordination, experimentation and
cultural quality achieved by this first, basic study will
characterize and influence every other effort in the fields
of architecture, museum organization and management involving
a City of Science which, as in the case with the Rome project,
for the very fact of being built at the beginning of the new
century, will certainly have the eyes of the entire world
pointed its way.