Location: Milan, Italy / Year: 2016 / Program: 5000 m2 office building. A project developed together with Studio Ricatti. Renderings by Emaviz
Milano is the largest Italian metropolis. Despite the economic uncertainties of the last decades, it remains a city in constant transformation and in close competition with other European capitals.
As for the latter, the future urban development of Milan - its ability to renew itself and to attract new talents - will dramatically affect its first periphery, where former industrial areas have been reconverting into creative districts.
Within this context the design proposal aims - with new enthusiasm - to provide bold and efficient solutions to the challenges set out by the competition brief. The project is based on three key elements: the production of public space; the balance between formal specificity and functional flexibility; high energy performances.
The plot is located in the first periphery of Milan, only 500 meters far from the 2015 Milan universal exposition site.
The competition brief asked for a 4700 sqm low-rise office building with a generous lobby, for a 500 sqm warehouse and for 3500 sqm of public space. A standard office building typology would have had an excessive footprint occupying too much public ground.
In order to create a real common space around the office lobby and to provide a 360 degree view of the surrounding to all the work spaces, we lifted the office volume up.
In 2014 thousands of Venetian citizens supported the bottom-up initiative organised to win the public auction for a 99 years lease on the surface of Poveglia island. This incredible civic engagement - in an era of political disillusionment and loss of ideological commitment - can help us to understand the real necessity of reclaiming this forgotten piece of the city.
The competition brief asked to design a university campus, but could such a vague functional program bring a real urban vitality to such a specific site?
In post-Fordist economies, universities have become more and more productive entities rather than vibrant public arenas. The violent deindustrialisation of Western-Countries contributed transforming university campus in heterotopic enclaves bonded to a market-driven chain of knowledge, technological production and patents. The project proposes to reverse this process of segregation by adding complementary activities which would turn the campus into a real city. Within this context, architecture is considered as a tool that frames common spaces and that can still inspire a sense of belonging.
Location: Barcelona, Spain / Year: 2011 / Program: highrise mixed use building / Status : competition, first mention.
The competition brief asked for a 100 meters high mixed used skyscraper in El Poblenou, a Barcelona's neighborhood which has experienced a dramatic political, economic and urban transformation during the last three decades. The competition became the opportunity to investigate Barcelona's status as global city and the role of the skyscraper typology in the European cities.
Instead of proposing a unique and iconic building the project split the functional program into two identical towers. The two towers are considered as two inhabitable walls whic frame -and thus define- a public square.
The building complex hosts a metropolitan hotel as answer to labor mobility. Each part of the hotel accommodates different programmatic functions: the podium contains a covered market. The lower courtyard building hosts an athletic club. Inside the two towers living spaces alternate with working spaces. The public space in-between the two towers is meant to stage and inspire agonistic political actions.
Paradiso is a project which investigates the power of architecture.
It consists of a simple wall which divides a “good” forbidden interior space from a “bad” external context. A smooth deformation of the wall suggests an entrance, but, in fact, it leads to a second closed space. Here a small fissure allows the frustrated viewer to encounter a spectacular sight: a lush garden rises toward the horizon. A mirrored cladding reflects the dense vegetation suggesting a never ending landscape.
Paradiso considers architecture as a dispositif which has the capacity to divide, to isolate, to exclude and, by consequence, to impose inequalities between two spaces.
Despite its austere simplicity, architecture would confront with its loss of nietzschean innocence: it would stand not beyond but rather in between good and evil.
The wall would exacerbate the identity of the two sides. People would be desperate to know what is hidden beyond it.
The heroic impenetrability of the wall would inspire hope, mass illusions and myths. It would become a symbol over-filled by contradictory meanings. Its banal material presence would be swept away by the complexity of collective immaginary.
As in Marcel Duchamp's Étant donnés, the only fissure in the wall would have a peephole character, which would turn the viewer's ardent hope into voyeurism.
2011. In the last fifty years Europe has been the stage of a violent process of de-industrialization. More precisely European economies have shifted from Fordist to post-Fordist industrial systems, from standardized mass production to flexible forms of labour. The research focus on the Walloon region, one of the european territories which has been most affected by this economic restructuring.
The disastrous economic conditions that have afflicted the region during the last forty years caused dramatic political and social imbalances. This lead to say that Wallony is the real "periphery" of Europe. Paradoxically the region is situated at the very center of the "Eurocore", an extremely rich and densely populated european territory that includes London, Paris, Lille, the Flemish diamond, the Ruhr and the Randstadt.
The 33% of the population of Belgium live in Wallony, a region that represents the 55% of the national territory. The most densely populated area is the Sillon Industrial, the historical corridor of the Belgian coal mining and steelmaking industry. It is also called the Walloon industrial backbone or dorsal.
Territory as palimpsest
A strategy for the territory
Location: Karosta, Latvia / Year: 2013 / Program: Cultural center
During the last decades, architecture seems to have been increasingly focusing on what it can be, rather than in what it can actually do. An inattentiveness that the proposal tries to avoid by restoring the vocation of architecture to define common space by framing it.
The design proposal considers the new building as an inhabited podium, which supports and celebrates the most unpredictable urban programs. The word podium generally indicates a platform used to raise something (or somebody) above its surrounding. By doing so it distinguishes and emphasises its value. From an urban point of view, the podium introduces a new soil level, which creates a stoppage in the tissue of the existing city by stressing the identity of the new building.
Karosta’s urban landscape is already highly iconic: the urgency for an architectural exuberance in order to increase its visibility in a national or international context is not given anymore. Consequently the project proposes an almost neutral object, which in return is able to provide an urban presence that goes beyond its simple volume, resulting in both a new public equipment and in a public space.
Plan of the upper public square and of the cultural center
The extraordinary past of Karosta makes sometimes hard to understand the identity of its present. But besides its history, Karosta is first of all linked to its geography: the specific quality of its sunlight, its proximity to the sea. Consequently the green space, placed at the very center of the project, is not simply a garden but it aims to be a living monument dedicated to the Latvian natural landscape.
One of the key elements of the proposal are the arcades. These covered streets create a seamless continuity between the public spaces outside and throughout the building. They represent the backbone of the project by connecting the different parts of the cultural center with the central garden.