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A new exhibition in Rome asks what virtual cities can learn from real-life architecture

Search History, on display at Rome’s MAXXI museum, questions whether Aldo Rossi’s writings could teach us anything about how we envision and design the nascent metaverse.

The exhibition is led by Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, architects and founders of design studio Space Popular. It’s part of the museum’s ongoing Studio Visit programme, which invites the designers of today to respond to iconic works by architects and creatives.

Hellberg and Lesmes have taken Aldo Rossi’s 1966 book The Architecture of the City as their focus, drawing on the publication’s explorations of and theories around city design and relating that back to the metaverse.

MAXXI Alcantara / Studio Visit: Space Popular. Search History. Photography: Musacchio, Ianniello, Pasqualini & Fucilla, courtesy MAXXI Alcantara

In a video released by the Rome museum, Lesmes explains that Rossi’s research into how people move around the city could be applied to three-dimensional virtual environments and how people, as avatars, travel between them – whether that’s clicking on a link or sliding open a door.

The show recreates virtual spaces in real life, using layers of fabric printed with bright graphics of buildings and cities to create enclosed spaces that can be peeled back. Three-dimensional benches and street lights, also designed by Rossi, bridge the gap between real and imagined.

Search History is on display until 15 January 2023.

MAXXI Alcantara / Studio Visit: Space Popular. Search History. Photography: Musacchio, Ianniello, Pasqualini & Fucilla, courtesy MAXXI Alcantara
MAXXI Alcantara / Studio Visit: Space Popular. Search History. Photography: Musacchio, Ianniello, Pasqualini & Fucilla, courtesy MAXXI Alcantara
MAXXI Alcantara / Studio Visit: Space Popular. Search History. Photography: Musacchio, Ianniello, Pasqualini & Fucilla, courtesy MAXXI Alcantara

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