A former distillery in a Milanese industrial area turns into a glamorous International centre for the lovers of art and architecture through an OMA project.
Just opened one month ago, the Fondazione Prada venue in Milan is already one of the must-see cultural place in town. It takes up the area full of charm of a former distillery of the early twentieth century changed by OMA’s project into a magic place: a wide-ranging International centre (showrooms, cinema, workshops, library, bar) where the value of preservation connects with the value of new architecture. A meeting place for art research and sharing to help speeding up the upgrading of a degraded ex industrial area.
OMA’s (led by Rem Koolhaas) masterly touch lent amazing identity and aura to the big complex along the railway; about 19,000 sqm where Società Italiana Spiriti was located.
The architectural project is characterized by an articulated architectural configuration which combines seven existing buildings with three new structures (Podium, Cinema and Torre, under construction), the new venue is the result of the transformation of a distillery dating back to the 1910’s. In the project conceived by OMA, two conditions coexist: preservation and the creation of a new architecture which, although separate, confront each other in a state of permanent interaction.
The brilliant idea was to entrust the interior design of the bar to a movie director -Wes Anderson- and the connotation of the library to an artist –Andreas Slominski-.
The wide circulation areas, paved in stone or wood (sleepers of the sectioned rails), open onto some old buildings with rough fronts, exposed pillars and trusses still with their industrial identity or on the new minimal blocks of the cinema, a mirroring parallelepiped, or of the glass walls of the Podium.
Standing out against everything is the ironic Haunted House showily clad with a gold leaf layer.
OMA has designed the display of the exhibition “Serial Classic” (Podium), that analyze the themes of seriality and the copy in classical art , ideally joined with the exhibition “Portable Classic” at Venice venue of the Fondazione throughout the summer.
At the Milan venue of the Fondazione, three different exhibition projects which use the Collezione Prada as a research and investigation tool are presented. The Sud gallery and part of the Deposito, the imposing warehouse located on the west limit of the compound, host ‘An Introduction’, an exhibition showcasing more than 70 works.
Exhibition ‘In Part’ is staged in the Nord gallery, one of the former industrial structures originally included in the compound. It explores the idea of the fragmented body.
The spaces of the Cisterna, a preexisting building made up of three adjacent vertical structures, host ‘Trittico’ conceived by the Thought Council.
The spaces of the Haunted House, a four-story building at the center of the compound, host a permanent installation conceived by Robert Gober and two works by Louise Bourgeois.
The Cinema, a mirroring parallelepiped, hosts a project titled ‘Roman Polanski: My Inspirations’. The Cinema foyer houses a historic work by Lucio Fontana. Battaglia, a fluorescent painted polychrome ceramic frieze, created by the artist in 1948 for the Cinema.
Accademia dei bambini and Library
The Accademia devoted to children is an ideal place to host workshops and events where a dialogue between grownups and children is fostered as well as a wide range of creative and learning experiences. It is a flexible and multifunctional platform. On the occasion of the opening of the new Milan venue, a temporary artistic intervention by Andreas Slominski is also presented. In the room adjacent to the Accademia dei bambini, the German artist has created an installation with multiple hints to the future destination of this space, which will house the library of the Fondazione. The intervention comprises sculptures Himmel (sky) and Erde (earth), an overturned truss and toilet box, usually employed at construction sites and a series of 16 paintings.
Entering the bar you feel you actually are in a set of a Wes Anderson’s film.
It recreates the atmosphere of a typical Milanese café. Some architectural and decorative details from the original structure have been preserved, such as the arched ceiling, which recreates a “miniature” version of the vaulted glass roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, one of Milan’s symbolic buildings. Other key elements of the Galleria are replicated inside, creating a sort of patterned decoration for the top half of the bar.
In keeping with the interior design, the seats, formica furniture, floor, veneered wood wall panels and the range of colors employed are reminiscent of Italian popular culture and aesthetics from the 1950s and 1960s.
Although his movies often favor symmetrical tableaux, Anderson feels that “there is no ideal angle for this space. It is for real life, and ought to have numerous good spots for eating, drinking, talking, reading, etc. 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.”
A perfect and inspiring place even for a smart working mode, I would add.
Text by Renata Sias
New Milan venue of Fondazione Prada Architectural project by OMA
Photo 1,2,3,4: Bas Princen 2015, Courtesy Fondazione Prada.
Photo 5/20: Gabriele Pagani, WOW! Webmagazine. Photo: Bas Princen, 2015, Courtesy Fondazione Prada