F.A.R.E. at MAXXI: learning space is a fine art

Published on Thursday, 14 November 2019

Christened EduLab 1 and EduLab 2, the two innovative educational workshops inside Rome’s MAXXI are dedicated to children and teens as part of the “F.A.R.E. Verso un’architettura dell’educazione (Towards an architecture for education)” project. Inaugurated on 6 November in their new configuration, these spaces – which the National Museum of 21st Century Arts already had been using for educational activities – have been redesigned to be more flexible, modular and dynamic, like contemporary artisanal workshops.

The transformation was made possible thanks to a collaboration between Enel Cuore Onlus, the Reggio Children - Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation and the Education department at the MAXXI Foundation. The project entrusted Roman architecture practice Labics with designing the workshops’ reconfiguration, aided by a team of pedagogy experts.

At the official opening to the public, speakers included Andrea Valcalda, Managing Director of Enel Cuore; Pietro Barrera, Executive Director of the MAXXI Foundation; and Massimiliano Massimelli, Head of Communications at the Reggio Children Foundation.

However, the real protagonists of the event were a group of high school students from Rome, who had the chance to experience EduLab1’s innovative set-up, tackling the challenge of becoming “Curators for a day”: provided with an empty display space and a series of works of art, they were asked to design an exhibition.

The F.A.R.E. project can be seen as a “spin-off” to Fare Scuola, on which the Reggio Children Foundation and the Enel Group’s non-profit have worked together, since 2015, to redevelop school settings and promote the culture of change, starting with the potential of these spaces as learning environments. So far, the initiative has led to the upgrade and enhancement of approximately 90 preschools and primary schools across Italy.

The two innovative spaces inaugurated at MAXXI mark the first time that Fare Scuola approach was tested outside a school environment. The product of careful research into the relationship between pedagogy and architecture, EduLab 1 (on the ground floor of the museum) and EduLab 2 (on the first floor) have been redesigned as fluid spaces that can be constantly reconfigured to suit various activities, with the aim of stimulating discovery, design skills and reflection in anyone accessing them – students, families and visitors of all ages. This approach reflects that of Zaha Hadid, the visionary architect who designed the museum. As she explained in one of her last interviews, “I don't think you can teach architecture. You can only inspire people.”

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