Open to life - ArchiElements - ISPLORA

Teaser Open to life



It is pleasurable to press a door handle shining from the thousands of hands that have entered the door before us; the clean shimmer of ageless wear has turned into an image of welcome and hospitality. The door handle is the handshake of the building. The tactile sense connects us with time and tradition: through impressions of touch we shake the hands of countless generations

- The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the Senses. J. Pallasmaa, 2015

From an object as simple as the handle and an instrumental element such as the door, a comprehensive narrative takes shape around the theme of the threshold in its multiple variations, from the urban scale to the detailed one. A story told through the voices of designers such as architects and designers Tomas Ghisellini and Stefano Piraccini that winds its way between architectural composition and literature, domestic microcosms and philosophy, reality and sustainable design. 

The lesson explores the opening element in all its facets, narrating its evolution from the entrance of Mycenae to splendid gothic architecture, from the enfilade typical of western baroque residences to the imperceptibility of Japanese shoji, analyzing in depth the relationship between the perception of living and detailed design. Gestures and typologies are integrated into different design solutions as the door adapts to different cultures, as well as the formal relevance, functions and symbolic value it takes on.

An archetypal element - often considered secondary or simply instrumental, when examined in relation to the complexity of a building, which represents the first contact with those who enter urban spaces and design. An archetypal element that sparks reflection and debate, from Sebastiano Serlio’s “catalog” in his Libro Extraordinario, to Louis Sullivan's Golden Door in Chicago or Olbrich’s Great Door in Darmstadt, which derive their symbolic character from the frames and artistic elements that define them. An archetypal element that is narrated in the “house doors” of Bruno Taut's Siedlungen, but also in the entrances of Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudì - a continuous dialogue between matter, light and color - and the Grândola Meeting Center by Aires Mateus, in a combination of solids and voids. 

The openings become synonymous with the research of a compositional system - narrated by architect Tomas Ghisellini - within the domestic microcosm of Loft A. A significant case study to show how a simple technological solution can change shape and in turn transform the perception and composition of the space in which it is inserted. The intervention, in fact, completely rewrites the organization of the existing spaces by mixing the two overlapping environments in a labyrinthine solution made of mobile surfaces, opaque, glossy or translucent, autonomous, recalling pure lines and volumes capable of assigning from time to time different percentages of visual permeability to spaces.

Between opacity and transparencies, the lesson describes the perceptive experiences of living and how they are integrated into contexts through large openings, creating a direct relationship between interior and exterior, between domestic space and urban reality. The voice of architect Stefano Piraccini, founder and partner of the firm Piraccini+Potente Architettura, describes large windows that are enriched with high-tech features suitable for today’s design of passive buildings, sustainable and energy efficient, as in the Casa Studio Passivehouse project.

The project consists in the renovation of an existing building using the international Passive House protocol, showing how it is possible to achieve the energy performance of a passive house not only in new isolated buildings, which represent almost all Passive Houses built to date, but also in urban aggregates of historical buildings or of the first expansions of our cities. An experimentation carried out on all finishing materials and on innovative technological solutions, which make the building passive despite the presence of large glass surfaces.

From the threshold to the limit, from the Japanese domestic microcosm to American modernism, the archetypal element of the door narrates itself in various fields of design and art, from sacred to initiation, taking on different meanings, technologies and materials. An in-depth excursus on existing technologies in relation to the UNI EN 1634-1:2009 certifications for REI 30 and REI 60 solutions, for fire resistance, thermal and acoustic insulation, and a design, compositional and technological look at solutions of the future.

Learning objectives

  • The lesson explores the design, compositional and technological aspects of different types of openings, critically analyzing the different solutions in relation to the various historical and contemporary contexts in which they are set, to the scale of the project, from the urban one to the single detail, through specific case studies and emblematic references.
  • The lesson addresses in a multidisciplinary way the technological and design aspects of an archetypal element, delving on the one hand into perceptive and spatial aspects, on the other hand into the energy, technological and performance responses that allow to achieve the highest compositional standards for passive solutions for architecture. An excursus on existing technologies in relation to the certifications and UNI-EN standards, for REI 30 and REI 60 solutions, for fire resistance, thermal and acoustic insulation.
  • The lesson analyzes the implications of research and innovation on the subject in two specific study contexts, narrating through the voice of the founders of the architecture firms Tomas Ghisellini Architects and Piraccini+Potente Architettura the possibilities expressed by a technological solution that changes and adapts to different situations referring to interiors and the limit between interior and exterior, in a design process that follows the canons of the Passive House international protocol.
  • Starting from the single “door” element, the lesson illustrates the historical phases and the technological and material principles related to the archetypal element, so as to analyze its significant features, standards and new performance parameters, the technologies and artistic-compositional finishes that have expressed the evolution of the single element from the past to today.

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