From Centers of Death to Centers of Creation: Adaptively Re-Using Slaughterhouses
The former slaughterhouse in the Testaccio section of Rome. Once home to a massive slaughter operation, and responsible for providing a steady stream of meat to Roman citizens from 1891 to 1975, it is now is home to a museum and arts center, funky art installations, non-profit associations, shops, venues, and space for interesting events (I.e. beer festivals).
It’s a little eerie to walk alongside the former pens, to look up and see the meat hooks that still hang from the ceilings, or to envision the number of animals that must have passed through here; but its an important piece of maintaining the history and character of the place. Its also an important food experience, in a world where most people are increasingly out of touch with where their food comes from or what processes it went through to get to them. In one breath, you can be inspired by a modern piece of art or music, while also becoming conscious of the scale and infrastructure required for meat operations.
Overall, they’ve done a great job of coming up with interesting uses and bringing some of the empty spaces to life. I hope they continue to be creative, as I’m sure there’s even more that can be done. As you can see from the pictures, the space maintains a significantly empty feeling, even with a large event like a beer festival going on. In any case, I’m glad to see the space being re-used and maintained, rather than torn down for the purpose of developing something new. It can really function for so many purposes.
Photos taken April, 2013
Discovering Italian Craft Beer (beer festival in the slaughterhouse)
Monte Testaccio (sits just across from the slaughterhouse. Formerly housed stables and other related facilities)
Some interesting external links:
Design Observer: Trash Heap of History: Extensive post about the history and design of the area, and how it provides insights for modern urban redevelopment and reclamation
Food Lover’s Odyssey: Offals in Testaccio: Some history of the slaughterhouse and offals, which are quite popular in Rome. There is a reason!
Rome Art Lover: Testaccio: Some neighborhood history, including architecture, housing, development, food, and more.
Slaughterhouses: Princeton wiki on slaughterhouse design, terminology, history, amounts of animals processed, etc.