24 March 2016 / Architecture & Design

Courageous and innovative architecture

The Fondazione Prada complex in Milan is currently attracting a remarkable number of visitors thanks to an enthusiastic response to this exciting, new arts venue.
Housed in a regenerated distillery, the Foundation's new permanent complex is located in the Scalo Romana district, an area of the city that has become famous for its architectural conservation and innovation.

Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the Fondazione Prada director,could not have chosen a better location or a better architect than Remment Koolhaas to oversee this astounding regeneration project. Here, his designs are particularly original and include a daring wall covering that uses 24 carat gold leaf to create revolutionary new effects and textures.

Oma,Koolhaas' architectural studio in Holland, has succeeded in creating a harmonious balance between seven of the distillery's original buildings and three new structures - the Podium, the mirror-glassed Cinema and the gold-plated Tower.

This combination gives the complex a special, unique style that is both symbolic of a lively metropolis and respects the needs of both the original and new architecture. The following designers have also contributed to the project: Chris van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli (Oma); Alvisi Kirimoto&Partners, Atelier Verticale; Favero&Milan, Prisma Engineering; Level Acoustics; Ducks Sceno; GAE Engineering; and Maurizio Ciabatta from Prada.

The result is a spectacular 19,000m² arts complex, with 11,000m² dedicated to cinema and exhibitions and an overall design based on a series of dynamic contrasts, such as old and new, horizontal and vertical, industrial-style features and refined decorations.

The Fondazione Prada has also included a special area dedicated to children called the Accademia dei Bambini. The architectural layout of this space was designed by a group of young students from the Ècole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Versailles,led by their teachers Cédric Libert and Elias Guenon, whereas the theoretical and operational groundwork for the project was laid down by the neuro-pediatrician Giannetta Ottilia Latis.

The complex also includes a splendid and highly original café that recreates the atmosphere of bygone Milan, and this has undoubtedly added to the building's huge popularity and appeal. The moment you walk into the “Bar Luce” you are enveloped in a brightly coloured, retro atmosphere that whisks you off to film sets, such as “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Grand Budapest Hotel”.

In fact, “Bar Luce” was designed by the American film director Wes Anderson, who deliberately sought to create a setting with a real life appeal. «… While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.» The interior design created by Anderson includes formica furniture, veneered wood wall panels and a range of colours reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s Italian popular culture, while the decorative 19C elements and ceiling recall one of Milan’s most symbolic structures, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele arcade.

The same courageous and innovative spirit that animates the Fondazione Prada complex also distinguishes the design and manufacture of the Leonardo product range.Every day, Leonardo's designers take inspiration from these spectacular examples of style and design that feature contributions from internationally acknowledged starchitects and enhance the Made in Italy brand throughout the world.

Recognising and appreciating trends from the worlds of art, architecture, design and fashionis all part of Leonardo's DNA that is embodied in its constant commitment to interpreting contemporary expectations and aspirations.

With the same innovative spirit, from 18th March to 28th August, Fondazione Prada will be hosting the L’image volée (The stolen image) exhibition. This group show includes examples of artwork, photography and cinema that push back the boundaries of originality, invention, imitation and regeneration.

The exhibition space for “L’image volée” has been designed by the sculptor, Manfred Pernice, and the exhibition itself - located in the Nord gallery of the Milan complex - is curated by Thomas Demand, and features over 90 works by 60 artists that represent «the physical appropriation of the object or its absence; theft as related to the image per se rather than the concrete object itself; and the act of stealing through the making of an image»

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