ProjectB has always seen the architectural context as a
fundamental value for the art it contains. It is no coincidence, therefore, that
you - architect and museographer - have been called on to design the new
The usual role of the architect is clear but, in a project like this, the role of the museographer is to "stage" the exhibition or design the exhibition space, the “box”.
How did your interest for the museum environment come about?
It emerged while I was at university, when I was lucky enough to start working with the Albini studio. I then developed it further during a long research project with the Lombardy region which helped to lay out the new Museum Standards document.
Projects linked to museums or galleries: do you always see them as “boxes”?
Not only that. For instance there is the project that we're handling for the extension of the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan: it has almost a urban design value. The “cavallerizze” the new entrance in Via Olona, where the historical part (not damaged during the bombing) overlapped to a section of contemporary architecture. This restores the axes, producing not so much the dynamics of an exhibition space, as all the flows of a huge museum, as well as redefining an important urban area. Galleries are exhibition spaces that are very different from a museum, even just in terms of size. Of course, they have to be conceived and designed around every single specific characteristic: from the art to be displayed, to the personality of the gallery owner; from the use made of the space, to the resulting stratifications. And - last but not least - the budget, although this doesn't necessarily condition the final result of a good project. In this case, for instance, the limited budget has not prevented us from realizing everything we imagined for ProjectB.
So it is a project that firmly belongs to the age we are living in! The challenge nowadays is to come up with top quality, sustainable projects.
That goes without saying! It is a topic that is close to my heart, not only with regards to the sustainability of a project Generally speaking, I tend to maintain the traces of the past, and work around them. It is much more interesting not to automatically delete what already exists and then start all over again (though this is perhaps the most simple way). It is a question of rational stratification. This is merely because the area was not designed in 2012, but it is precisely stratification - a more complex subject, that adds interesting and unique elements.
Where did you start from with this project?
This area is in a courtyard of an old part of Milan, and that's interesting because it's industrial rather than residential. The decision was made to open up the wide arches around the outside of the gallery, thereby creating a more effective link between the inside and the outside. At the same time, we wanted to find the single defining element in the inner area: the iron flooring. It's a harsh feature but it formed the basis for creating a unique project and avoiding the "white box" - a concept that, in my opinion, has been surpassed at least a decade ago.
Which aspect of this project do you instinctively prefer?
I'm especially interested in the work done with regards to the perspective running through the rooms (both the display areas and the work areas), and the capsule that is actually the library. I like the deformity of the walls. The material, iron, that means we don't have to float in a characterless white. And from a technological viewpoint, I like the lights.
Speaking about lights, there's a very definite idea behind the solution you've adopted.
This project has a very strong personality, so I decided straight away to bring in Alberto Pasetti, a lighting designer from Treviso. It was an extraordinary work of collaboration that led to designing a customised lighting system for ProjectB, following those exact distortions of the room. A highly original solution using an innovative technology that we'd like to develop with further research.
The opening event is a personal exhibition by French artist Noemie Goudal, who bases all her research on the perspectives in - and via which we view - a work of art. An artist who has really made the most of the space offered by the gallery…
It was the slanting angle of the walls that led us to imagine a flowing system of paths, with the aid of perspective cones. The idea was to create a dual channel of flow: two paths, two main axes that define the paths as well as the overall space. The optic cone gives a view of the space as a whole, yet without taking away that spatial tension perceived as a ‘phenomenon of surprises’ - the wonder of discovering what's happening in the next room.
There's another strong element in the gallery: the library.
It was deliberately made as a transit capsule - a sort of parasite architecture within a continuous system that doesn't break up the path, but just announces a change; it marks off the passage towards the ProjectRoom which, by definition, is a separate space that shouldn't be confused with the exhibition areas. Its design plays with the vertical axes that act as stage wings: the shelves are set back from the walls so, from the outside, you can't actually see the books, though they suddenly become visible once you enter the room.
One day, this project could become bigger…
The sight is interrupted, but the elements can still speak to each other; even about the choice to open up the two sections. I like to think that every project can be extended: finished, but not closed in on itself.
ProjectB s.r.l. a socio unico
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