Sentirsi nello spazio

Ogni passeggiata per le sale della Royal Academy di Londra è sempre un piacere. Le grandi e spaziose sale del palazzo di Burlington Gardens sono semplici volumi ampi e luminosi, di varie dimensioni, appena decorati con qualche fregio dorato e invasi da luce naturale che piove dai lucernari.

Come accadde qualche anno fa al Guggenheim di New York con Contempalting The Void, oggi la RA propone una riflessione sullo spazio, attraverso il lavoro di una serie di architetti di tutto il mondo a cui è stato assegnato il compito di reinterpretare, o meglio, “reimmaginare” le stanze della gloriosa galleria.

Il risultato è Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined, in mostra fino al 6 aprile. Gli autori di queste nuove letture del senso dello spazio sono un dream team di architetti, ovvero Grafton Architects (Irlanda), Diébédo Francis Kéré (Germania, Burkina Faso), Kengo Kuma (Giappone), Li Xiaodong (Cina), Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Cile), Eduardo Souto de Moura e Álvaro Siza (Portogallo).

Tra gioco e visione, esperienza e pensiero, materiali e profumi, ogni lavoro è pensato appositamente per la Royal Academy. Un percorso talmente bello che fa venire voglia di immaginare una casa perfetta, un luogo straordinario, in cui vivere e interagire con gli altri.

Bath in B&W

Milan in B&W

In questi giorni la luce a Milano è magnifica…

LA in B&W

Black, white, Chicago

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La metropoli (praticamente) perfetta

fotoSe esiste una metropoli perfetta, deve assomigliare molto a Chicago.

Pare proprio che gli architetti migliori del ‘900 abbiano fatto a gara per costruirci le loro opere più belle e che i contemporanei vogliano mettersi in gara con loro per definire l’architettura di domani. E non è un caso che sia così: infatti la storica Tribune Tower è stata costruita quasi cent’anni fa per essere (parole testuali dal testo del concorso originale) “the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world”.

Qualche nome che ha accettato la sfida verso la città ideale? Frank Lloyd Wright con la mitica Robie House, la doppietta di Ludwig Mies van der Rohe con l’Illinois Institute of Technology e 330 North Wabash, Eero Saarinen con il Law School Building, Kenzo Tange con il puntuto American Medical Association Building, Ricardo Bofill con il postmodernissimo United Building, Bertrand Goldberg con le fantascientifiche torri tonde di Marina City, Frank Gehry e Anish Kapoor en plein air al Millennium Park, Jeanne Gang con la torre “digitale” Aqua, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill con il classico John Hancock Center e la svettante Trump International Hotel and Tower, il nostro Renzo Piano con la splendida Modern Wing dell’Art Institute.

Grattacieli a parte, passeggiare per Chicago è una goduria, un po’ perché ci sono passato in agosto (e tutta la città è per strada a godersi il sole prima del rigidissimo inverno) ma anche perché ogni isolato è una sorpresa: passi dalle feste esclusive del Public Hotel agli scorci del Loop con la metropolitana sopraelevata, dalle viste sull’onnipresente Sears (oops!) Willis Tower alla fontana in granito e led di Jaume Plensa e Krueck and Sexton Architects, dal ristorante di Ralph Lauren a quel gioiello nascosto che è il Driehaus Museum, dalle passeggiate lungo il Chicago River alle camminate su un lago che sembra un oceano.

Se da un lato si ha la sensazione di vivere dentro a SimCity (cit. Nospo), dall’altro siamo di fronte alla conferma che bellezza chiama bellezza, che la qualità vuole confrontarsi solo con la qualità, che la cultura non la fanno solo i privati nei circoli ma anche le amministrazioni pubbliche per strada.

La città che sale

March 22, 2012

March 22, 2012

March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

March 22, 2012

March 22, 2012

March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013

July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

March 22, 2012

March 22, 2012

Carlo Scarpa: Venini 1932-1947

My new article for Cool Hunting

Coinciding with the events of Venice Architecture BiennaleVenini presents an exhibition dedicated to its famous collaboration with Carlo Scarpa, artistic director of the glassware firm from 1932 to 1947.

The exhibition of 300 pieces (large and small vases, containers, dishes and more) demonstrates how the direct relationship between the architect and the craftsmen resulted in little glass masterpieces. Alongside unique pieces, prototypes and mass-produced items, the exhibit showcases original drawings and rare photos from Venini’s historical archives.

Carlo Scarpa was intimately involved with production techniques and spent many hours in direct contact with the artisans on the island of Murano, where the best Venetian glass has been made since the Middle Ages, trying to understand the secrets of glassmaking, develop new techniques and encourage more extreme and deeper experimentation.

The exhibition is divided into areas defined by production technique. Among the most famous works are vases made using the “a bollicine” technique that fills the glass with tiny bubbles that can even draw ornamental motifs. Scarpa was also able to give new life to traditional techniques, such as the “filigrana” (watermark) and the very well known “murrina,” an icon of Venetian craftsmanship. The unexpected colors of the pieces on display are sometimes enhanced by amazing surface effects, giving the look and feel of mother of pearl, ice, smoke or metal. The consistency of the different masterpieces is also a constant surprise, since the exhibition shifts from thick structures to incredibly light and volatile wonders.

The exhibition is curated by Marino Barovier and will be open until 29 November 2012 at Le Stanze del Vetro at the Giorgio Cini Foundation.

Urban Italy

My new article from Cool Hunting.

Founder of the successful architecture tourism site Viaggi di Architettura, South African-born Mikaela Bandini recently expanded her scope with Urban Italy—a new website devoted to travel, design and the discovery of an alternative Italy in all forms. With a clear goal to help people discover something new and surprising, Bandini tells CH the story of the project in an exclusive interview.

How did the idea of Urban Italy come about?

My day job over the past 12 years has been creating contemporary architecture tours around the world for Italian professionals and architecture lovers for Viaggi di Architettura.

It’s what I do. It’s what I love doing. Scouting for information, contacts and spaces that you don’t get in a cheesy guide book off the shelf. After putting together over 50-plus itineraries worldwide I decided to create a guide-blog for foreign archinauts and design-aholics who want an alternative approach to Italian cities.

[It’s for] people like me who are on the lookout for great design deals, new industrial spaces, cutting edge architecture and souvenirs that don’t necessarily fit into your suitcase as well as the people who really rock the country.

The project is based on your personal experience or on a team?

I like to consider Urban Italy a kind of 2.0 version of my Moleskines—basically Italy the way that I’d like to see it (after having lived here for 20-odd years).

The project started as a personal collection of contemporary addresses and insider information from the tip to the toe (literally!) that I gathered while traveling around for architecture, food, interiors and pathological modernist furniture-collecting. Then I asked a handful of foreign friends around the country to give me their ‘best of’ to have a wider coverage of things to do and places to go. There are currently five of us working on the project, all foreigners living in Italy.

We begin the second phase of the project in spring with young Dutch film maker Caspar Diederik, who’ll be doing 2.0 storytelling about people and places around the country.

Are the Italian contemporary cities very different from the postcard-like Italy that many people expect?

We’re looking at a rather more contemporary Italy, which appeals to the kind of traveler who doesn’t collect Hard Rock t-shirts. Stuff like ex-industrial sites that have been transformed into something new, exciting spaces for arts and theater, the latest hot spots for an aperitivo, urban eateries, events, products and people. Not exactly the stuff you get on a postcard.

Then again our readers send Tweets, not postcards.