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as an aesthetical practice
that drives a potentially
transforming force

Real Academia de España en Roma

  • Location: Rome
  • Date: 2022
  • Principal Architect: ACHA ZABALLA (Cristina Acha, Miguel Zaballa)
  • Collaborators: LAIBE ARCHITETTURA (Francesco Lai, Susan Belardo); David Sánchez Bellido; Melina Schechinger

An intervention subject to the criterion of proportionality is proposed.

On the one hand, in relation to the consequences of the intervention in constructive terms. A comprehensive scientific rehabilitation of the building is ruled out. It is proposed that the interventions be reversible, without causing the permanent alteration of the original configuration.

The building has reached our days evolved by the succession of interventions. It is proposed that what is added be easily removable. And that contributes to the recreation of an evocative environment with certain doses of metaphor.

On the other hand, proportionality criterion in relation to the result with respect to the investment.

The access portal, the garden portal and the pavilion of the residence are identified as the same intervention.

The expansion of the residence is defined from a modular structure. This gives it a certain flexible character (addition or subdivision of use modules). The 1950s building continues, to which it adjoins and surpasses it in its recessed central opening. The simplicity of the approach, its attachment to the blind wall of the embassy and the emptying in which the building becomes a pergola, reduce its presence to internal views of the garden. Functionalism and openness to the garden are the premises, to which a structure of certain dimensions in a certain composition responds. The color palette, the materials dialogue with the pre-existing.

The same approach solves the entrance covers from the square and its opposite to the garden.

The access portal is also defined from a modular structure that rests on the existing plinth once the 1929 pavilion was dismantled. This element is a door, it is a nucleus, it is a sign, and intentionally, little building. The semicircular vault of the access passage, the staircase manifest themselves with their geometry in a literal way. An almost dreamlike fragment, pop, that speaks of the dissociation between academic classicism and other ways. A vindication of representativeness and symbolism.


The belief in the idea of ​​indefinite progress.

"Utopias specifically manifest and express a certain era, obsessions and rebellions, both the field of their expectations and the paths invented by the social imagination and its way of considering the possible and the impossible" in the words of Bronislaw Baczko.

Regarding the etymological definition of the term, what is important here is that this non-existence should be understood as what is not yet, as Amable Fernández Sanz reminds us. "Utopia is born as a compensatory function of our reason and imagination when our desires and aspirations are not satisfied in real life."

Today, in an age flooded by pragmatism, we can reach a sad conclusion: “it is not time for utopia”. But perhaps we are open to return to the basic characteristic of the founding era of the Academy, which is none other than the attempt to socialize culture. We see the Academy in 2022 as a support space for the development of feasible utopias, in line with the dynamism and the attempt to build, to stimulate action to transform the real world, to contribute to progress. Let's turn the ideal into the real. Utopia is us.

The Academy understood in its double function, as a center of artistic-humanist production and training, and as a space for cultural understanding and dissemination.


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