The team of Maria Kadyrova + Sam Buckley + Martina Caddeo shared with us their work which was done in their Master degree program in Scuola Politecnica di Design (Milano). Alias Evolution was an organic response to the brutality and minimalism of the host buidling and the surrounding environment, combining a fluid aesthetic with a landmark structure which highlights the monumentality of Moretti’s famous Architecture in the centre of Milan.
+ Project description courtesy Maria Kadyrova + Sam Buckley + Martina Caddeo
When we started this project, one of the first things that came to our attention was the huge contrast between the very high and powerful architecture of the Moretti building on Corsa Italia, Milano, and that of the surrounding buildings.
The Moretti building was built in 1953 at the height of the Brutalist architectural period and this is no exception to the imposing grandeur seen elsewhere in this intriguing Italian style. The building has a very overpowering height, exentuated by the very bold and clean lines of the exterior of the building, and also the frank statement of the cantilever which protrudes out over the street as one walks through to the main thoroughfare of the site. Whilst there are 3 main volumes to the Moretti building we were to be concentrating on the main aspect of the site with the cantilever over Corsa Italia. The site extends along the length of Via Rugabella to the north and circles the site with two other huge projections which tie all the buildings together to form a courtyard in the middle, from which all the forms can be accessed.
Having seen the site and done some basic research on the client, Alias Furniture, we were then given a guided tour of the showrooms of the client, highlighting the design issues involved in producing some of their superlight furniture, the reasons behind many of the designs, but also key factors as to their success and also how they wanted to be viewed by their clients and prospective customers. After a very insightful tour we then had a chance gather our own thoughts on both the building and also of the client, their needs, and also their wishes.
The starting point of our research was to delve deep into the interpretation of the ambiguity found within a few of the collections of Alias furniture, namely that of the Dehors range and the Frame range. We had singled these out from the other pieces within the company as they has a dual aspect to them with regards to their ability to utilised as outdoor furniture, for which, they had been specifically designed to withstand the harshness of outdoor weathering, yet would look equally good as indoor furniture.
From the offset we had found something that was of great debate to ourselves and a great source of inspiration for the direction in which the project would eventually lead.
From this dual aspect of these pieces we started to ellaborate on what we had seen at the showroom, and decided to take a closer look at pieces that we had at first glance decided were very angular and, like the architecture of Moretti’s building, quite brutal. Having studied their forms more closely we then came to the conclusion that maybe our initial thoughts towards the bold linearty of Alias furniture had been misfounded, and were infact much more ergonomic, fluid and organic than we had first anticipated.
With this new found realisation of the aesthetics of the clients furniture and having heard how the Managing Director had explained to the other group about certain key features of one range of furniture we took the step in declaring our intentions for the basis of the project, that of Organicity and Hidden Organic geometry.
But how do organic forms and a fluid architectonic language fit in with a building, widley respected as one of the most powerful Brutalist monuments in the centre of Milan?
If we look at any city, we can see that nature is a notion held back by the forces of man in their conquest to create the biggest, best and most functional environment for business and living, yet it is always nature that intervenes, and always finds a way to be ever present in these manufactured landscapes. If we look at any derelict building, or one that has been neglected for many years we can see the signs of the natural environment reclaiming what was once green land. This is a notion that we had talked about and subsequently had found a number of interesting images depicting the harmonious dischord of manmade and organic forms creating something stunning without prejudice for either side. A feeling of apathy for the prevailing natural growth of mother nature working with a man made structure to create such a thing of beauty, yet defined as complete opposites.
Once we had discovered this natural aesthetic to the Alias furniture, we saw that it could work in harmony within a brutalist structure, but it also needed a more organic backdrop to really exentuate these notions that hadn’t been so obvious to us in our initial studies, so we needed some sort of fluid organic notion to propel and confound our deliberations and discoveries.
Now that we had found a direction in which to take the project we had to address a couple of points that had become apparent on our site visit to the Moretti building that would prove to be of great importance to our project, namely, the need to highlight where the entrance to the building was and how we would be able to transport non residents to the roof top which we had singled out as the ideal location for a luxurious semi outdoor bar.
Once we had identified these problems we explored how they could be satisfied within the scope of language that we had discovered to be of great importance to us, and our interventions led us to hypothetical considerations for the use of the space, both as residents of the hotel and of the general public whom would want to enjoy the space at the top of the building, whilst making sure that the identity of the Moretti building was not lost.
We looked at the apparent island that Moretti had created in the centre of Milan with these huge monolithic forms, the importance of access within the building, but also how to soften the appearance and help create a connection between the furniture and the setting in a Milanese style. This lead us to the creation of a powerful structure shaped by organic ideology that could envelop and penetrate the building and help draw attention and intriguige to the hotel and client, thus creating a organic refuge within this grey urban area.
For underlining the verticality of connections and continuing on the idea of dematerialization of the space and emphasising Alias products, our research into the use of colours culminated in the use of a grey scale across the building, starting form the bottom level with a white scenary of the interior space and ending with a dark-grey in the outside space of the roof level. In this way The only accents of colours are left to Alias furniture, so that it could interact with the space as a relationship of contrasts.
Finally, we wanted to let the building stand out during night-time with an almost un earthly glow passing through the exterior structure, keeping the attention of passer-by towards the buildings and with another essence : night-time life in Milan .. on Alias seats.