This year for the Salone, the Italian Interni Magaazine organized, a major exhibition-event – ” Hybrid Architecture & Design” which took place at the Statale University in Milan, sponsored by the City of Milan and Expo2015, and co-produced by the BE OPEN Foundation.
It was a thought provoking collaboration between international designers and Italain companies, taking the form of site-specific works.
It encouraged new forms of intercultural communication, in a perspective that goes beyond ethnocentrism, while bringing out the contributions and expressions that arrive from the cultures of different countries.
The exhibition was centred on the theme of “Métissage in architecture and design“: the concept of the hybrid – interpreted as an encounter of cultures and technologies capable of generating solutions for the unknown and problems of the contemporary world.
As the French sociologist Michel Wieviorka has observed, “at times the encounter between different cultures triggers processes of mutual influence and changes that create original cultural forms. This métissage, this cultural exchange, authorizes the production of difference in the outlook of encounter and relations between single individuals, who live in the ambivalence of belonging to multiple identities”.
Métissage, then, within this project, provides a credible alternative to the concept of the melting pot, the uncritical sum of cultures and traditions, and the leveling of languages, design and culture originated by globalization,”
So métissage, shifted into the field of architecture and design, appears to be a credible alternative to the concept of the Melting Pot (the acritical aggregation of cultures and traditions) and to the linguistic and cultural uniformity produced by globalization.
A number of internationally acclaimed architects, designers and leading international product companies were chosen to participate in this event.
Those involved have a body of work that stands out because of their exemplary energies for research and innovation, and who express their visions through in evocative and spectacular means- of leading companies in the field of materials, technology and environmental sustainability.
The installations were positioned in the commanding State University in Milan.
Here is a Round up of the Projects created —
DEAN SKIRA / HOOKED UP
Entering the foyer, a 16-metre-long installation by s pierced with vertical and horizontal slits, highlighting the potential of light as a geometric element.
Hybrid is an object resulting from the contact moment between the tangible and intangible: in the context of the exhibition, it is a site specific pavilion, that gently interferes into the renaissance campus.
It explores different cultural impacts and links them together in a cohesive way by form and light, combining materials and technology in a solid structure where light is proposed as a contact tissue.
Visual integration is achieved through the object that acts as a device and through a geometrical slicing constituted by a series of vertical and horizontal, intensely repetitive cuts.
Those meandric spatial articulation allows daylight to enter the inside of the pavilion, while simultaneously, enabling the Led lighting to emit from the inside-out, creating intangible light columns all through the hosting building.
STEVEN HOLL / INVERSION
Further on, in the Cortile del 700, Steven Holl has placed six blocks of Lecce stone, cut according to digital instructions by specialist manufacturer Pimar; they play with the meaning of “inversion”, aided by a pool of water.
The materials of installation are cut from 21 million year old Lecce limestone from a quarry in Lecce, Italy, which has been open since Roman times.
The creative process – beginning with a 18×12,50 cm watercolor sketch in New York City, which is transformed into a 3d file, and then sent to a five-axis cutter in Lecce – required no working drawings.
Steven Holl Architects’s research on Lecce stone began back in 2010, thanks to the exhibition ‘Su Pietra’ held at the Castle of Acaya (Vernole, Lecce) and organized by the Institute of Mediterranean Cultures of the Province of Lecce.
Beginning in Lecce and trucked to Milan, the heavy stones of Inversion will be flown ( after the Salone is finished ) by air freight to Princeton, New Jersey (USA), to be included in the permanent configuration of the new Performing Arts Center.
LUCA SACCHETTI / THE VIEW
In the Cortile d’Onore, Luca Scacchetti has formed prefabricated wooden panels into a walk-in telescope of a gallery, offering unusual views of the surrounding context as it rises.
The border between interior and exterior, between interior design and architecture, has always been non-existent and fragile, made of holes, gaps in solids, glass, windows, doors always ready to open.
Thinking about this virtual yet fundamental borderline means considering something hybrid – a separation that is a union, a necessary line, which to make sense must also be negated – and thinking about sight, looking out and looking in.
The view understood as what we observe from the outside, in the city and the landscape, but also what we see from the inside, in our homes, looking beyond the walls.
Architecture is simply what we see from our windows and, walking in the city, we observe as the containers of our rooms.
The concept of the continuous passage between inside and outside through movement, through sight, and its continuous shifting of the vantage point, forms the basis of the project.
The technology applied to make the installation and the use of wood, a noble, ancient material at the service of modern and futuristic architecture, symbolize a moment of profound transformation in our way of thinking about design, as the accent continues to shift towards eco sustainability.
MICHELE DE LUCCHI / SGUARDI INSDISCRETI
Slightly further, an amusing proposal by Michele de Lucchi sees an army of faces belonging to classical statues emerging from a simple fir-wood structure.
These casts are combined with plaster spectacles; in some of the lenses, videos by Safilo narrate the world of spectacles.
The search for the particular nature and strong points of Italian culture in this specific moment is a theme that repeats, finding different solutions every time.
In the installation Sguardi Indiscreti the response is sought in the potential of interaction between classicism and technology, which also lies behind the modus operandi of Safilo.
Just as the company designs and produces eyewear using the precision of details and the manual skills of its artisans, combined with applied technology, so this installation uses the paradigms of classical architecture, on the outside, aiming curiosity towards the inside for a glimpse of the tools of modernity and their contribution to the activities of human beings.
The small wooden house with windows, whose concept is similar to that of a gallery of plaster casts, has plaster bar reliefs on the outside, depicting faces, hands and noses.
Each of them wears a pair of glasses, a clearly strident element that brings the mind back to the present.
Through the openings, it is possible to glimpse the inside of the structure, with video projections, elements that form a contrast with the classicism of the exterior.
The sense of all this is to always observe from two viewpoints, to look at the beauty of humanism without abandoning curiosity regarding evolution, to learn to construct the personality of the things of the world that is reflected in the beauty of the environment and the society.
DANIEL LIBESKIND / BEYOND THE WALL
Daniel Libeskind explores the boundaries of the spiral in an installation made of Silestone quartz by Cosentino, testing a modern tile system as a mathematical mosaic, open to endless possibilities.
“Architecture is a language which is able to narrate the story of the human soul” writes Daniel Libeskind, expressing the hybridization at the core of architecture: it is at once a language, an art form, a narrative and a way of thinking about the world.
According to Libeskind, architecture must go beyond mere technique and aesthetics to become a source of creativity and knowledge; the expression of a new humanism in which architecture is not merely the assertion of technological advancements or the manifestation of aesthetic trends, but “lives and breathes, characterized by an interior and an exterior, with a body and a soul, like the human being.”
This is the underlying concept of Beyond the Wall, a structure developing along a polycentric spiral open to a plurality of directions, just as architecture must interact with a plurality of different ideas, disciplines, desires and ambitions.
AKIHISA HIRATA / ENERGETIC ENERGIES
The artistic research of Studio Azzurro, by contrast, integrates the electronic image and the physical environment, while Akihisa Hirata worked with Panasonic to propose an ideal city in which the formal features of the urban fabric are generated through the composition of solar panels.
Energetic Energies provides a representation of a new nature-city dynamic.
Focusing on the connection to the environment, research and technological development are applied to create a sustainable life system based on the creation, conservation and rational use of renewable energies.
This system can be applied not just to homes, offices and shops, but also to entire cities, with the aim of creating a sustainable, intelligent city.
Faced with environmental issues or the view of nature and human society as opposites that cannot be reconciled, the installation proposes a different perspective that observes our cities from above, as part of the planet and the universe.
With the use of solar panels that cover cities and blend with nature in a seamless way, the project promotes a hybrid vision of common health permeated by vital force.
CHRISTOPHE PILLET / HOUSE OF SENSES
An installation for meditation, an evocative construction that combines natural elements, technological devices and artistic videos in a creative mixture to reawaken the senses.
The external structure is in black wood, covered and crossed by vegetation: large LED screens on the wall constantly broadcast video images, a gathering of experiences through the five senses produced by the award-winning Studio Azzurro, a group of new media artists.
Interactive installations by the studio Sfelab in the cloisters engage visitors in an intense sensory and emotional experience.
SPEECH TCHOBAN & KUZNETSOV / GOLDEN RIVER
The installation is composed of two long undulated parts that flow into each other and, when seen from the central axis of the courtyard, seem to join to form a large arch; actually, the two parts are imperceptibly separated along the borderline between the green surface of the courtyard and the paved zone.
The arch is clad in mosaic tile, like a golden river that carries multicolored crystals in its current.
The gold represents splendor: it is the expression of natural brightness, radiance, and it has very positive symbolic meanings in all cultures. The gold leaf decoration is a reminder of icons, the iconostasis, Russian orthodox churches.
The mosaic is an artistic technique whose very name evokes the concept of “creation of a harmonious whole” through the juxtaposition of individual tiles that compose the whole.
Arch-Skin, as the sponsor of the installation, pursues its corporate mission of encouraging exchanges and contacts between the realities of architecture, art and design.
SIMONE MICHELI / MODULO IBRIDO
The installation has the goal of creating an essential-complex whole, to address issues of possible modular architecture and technology.
It represents a manifesto-model of architecture structured around ethical content: sustainability, energy efficiency, air quality, use of natural energy resources, light, new materials, optimized performance, zero-impact, economic optimizations, quality of life.
The installation is a high-tech experimental hybrid and expansible housing module, to show how – through the design of physical plant and construction systems – it is possible to create new contaminated and contaminating dimensions (in terms of expression and content) for human beings of the present-future.
MARIO CUCINELLA / ARIA PURA
The wellbeing of man is a concept that should be safeguarded and protected: the quality of the air we breathe is essential for every human being, for wellbeing and health, especially in closed environments.
The installation projects the visitor into an atmosphere of wellness connected with air quality, conserving the concept of pure air, as in a preindustrial situation, completely without external contamination.
The installation metaphorically reproduces an experimental machine conceived as a uniform geometric solid: a simple cubical volume, hollowed on the inside to dematerialize it, evoking the idea of air as a transparent, imperceptible entity. Inside, a minimal, surreal micro-environment is recreated, an evocative space in which the visitor becomes part of the experiment, to the point of feeling immersed in a mysterious, pure reality, guided by a rhythmical play of sounds and lights.