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Richard Meier’s Church @ Tor Tre Teste in Rome

April 26, 2012

Although they cannot really capture the essence of an architectural work, unprofessional pictures are generally by far more honest than what you normally see on magazines. Andrea Giannone was travelling around Rome for his own business as I asked him to send me some streetviews of Richard Meier’s Church in Tor Tre Teste.

I myself have never visited the place, but heard a lot about it a couple of years ago, as it was completed, and I also listened to a presentation of the projects by engineers involved. Very interesting indeed, but as I received the pictures I thought: “Well… what I am going to write about it?”

The intention of the “client” (CEI, governing body of the Italian Catholic Church) was good: (1) To place a new church in a new city development at the edge of town, investing in the periphery of Rome to create a new social and spiritual center. (2) To call for an architectural competition among famous architects and provide the winner with enough resources to satisfy his creative freedom and maybe spur a little Bilbao effect. (3) Involving a private company (Italcementi) to absorb some of the costs and support the technical challenge envisaged by the architect, bringing technical innovation to the periphery of the Città eterna.


Plenty of good intention were behind this undertaken, but the result is rather sad. At least in terms of architectural expression and contribution to the urban fabric, if there is anything similar around the place, the result is a loose-loose situation. The imaginative church feels uncomfortable in the shabby periferal environment and the everyday life going around it seem not to have established any relationship with the free standing monument.

Good intentions, conspicuous budget and star-architects are no guarantee for good results. Yet I am going to visit the Church myself, sooner or later, hoping to change my opinion.

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