ArchiTALKS #6: MetrogrammaArchitects
"Being an architect in contemporary times means exploring complexity. Today the figure of the architect has completely changed and will have to continue to build the future"
The new episode of ArchiTALKS takes us back to Milan to learn about the design and research experience of Metrogramma, one of the protagonists of the debate on the city, through the story of the architect and founder Andrea Boschetti.
The lesson starts with a biographical account of Andrea Boschetti. First, it oversees his studies at the IUAV University of Venice with masters such as Bernardo Secchi, Gino Valle, Manfredo Tafuri or Massimo Cacciari. The lesson continues with an overview of his professional activity: his early experience at OMA in Rotterdam with Rem Koolhaas, and the venture at Metrogramma.
The name of the studio was born in a very secular way. [...] With a group of friends, we started facing architecture competitions during university. We had to be anonymous and so we decided to use this name, "Metrogramma." On the one hand, "Granma" was Che Guevara's boat - we were all very mindful to the political events of the time, we were very active in the "Pantera” Movement against the privatization of university; on the other hand, it had a meaning very dear to me because in Greek it means "measure of space." In a logic where space is a bit everything, it is social life, air, and the environment as well as form and architecture.
City, territory, and landscape, but also architecture, product and interior design
The lesson continues with a thorough examination of organization, practices, and methods. The studio has evolved through time in terms of organization and dimension, but its distinctive trait is still the multi-scalar and transversal approach to design where “unit, grid and matrix” remain as the cornerstones on which to build every project and idea.
Unity, grid, and matrix are a way of narrating the three scales of the project, namely that of design, of architecture and of the city, urban planning. [...] This definition also allows us to understandable how dealing with a detail means dealing with a point. Dealing with a grid means dealing with several connected points, but it is still a question of points. One can add a system meaning and dealing with a matrix means dealing with superimposing grids, thus complexity. This does not limit the point on the matrix, but simply gives a different context to a single message, that is the project that - in all these different scale contexts must bring along a sense and a meaning.
The reflections carried out by the architect lead towards a departure from the rigidity of the traditional planning model in favor of a more flexible, experimental, open and participatory approach to planning.
According to Boschetti:
The technical infrastructural development of a city and the construction of vision must be combined again: this segregation must be broken dramatically. [...] Let's just think about how a city is made today: public space is, for a large percentage, occupied by streets and cars, which are different from soft pedestrian mobility. We realize that there are two worlds in contrast, and I believe it is necessary to work on this.” Furthermore, “when we talk about "shared surface" in terms of shared spaces, we should bring this topic back to the professional concept and talk about “shared professions,” because these worlds should go back to designing together in the interest of quality, which should be a protagonist in our cities.
The lesson follows a temporal sequence, presenting projects belonging to the past, present, and future. This account provides insights into urban experiments for the cities of Milan or New York, such as the 2007 PGT or Milan Future City, a strategic vision for Milan's sustainable future development.
The PGT (Territorial Government Plan) of Milan has started a season that was then handed over to other administrations, other city councils and other professionals. [...] We presented "Milano Future City", a work on the Milan axes, with the ambition of giving a further contribution in line with what is the PGT that is being approved. [...] We would like to communicate how relevant design aspects are around the transformation of collective urban mobility infrastructures. It is also a question of dealing with an important technological issue: the relationship between means of transport and the environment, the theme of energy and pollution, but above all I think of the quality of life of the inhabitants.
In terms of architecture, Boschetti ranges from the narration of Domus Malles in Bolzano to the ongoing construction sites in cities and very different contexts, from Zservita Square in Budapest to the residences in Marbella. Specific insights are provided about works of interior and product design, thanks to the recent professional partnership with leading companies in the luxury interior sector, as well as about the creation of commercial spaces.
Once again the idea is to bring together, to ensure that architecture is a vehicle for bringing people together, an objective that naturally comes before the purely formal aspects [...] It is the case of Scalo Milano where we are given a fundamental objective [...] although all the shopping malls of this nature are very fake, we wanted the structure to be very contemporary and therefore very forward-looking: the materials, the reflections and the mirrors, the steels, the glass , the colors ... But above all what interested us once again is the ground floor, the ground attachment, the quality of the space.
The lesson highlights the role of the designer as an interpreter of complexity. Research and experimentation, determination and clarity of vision are central aspects in the design process:
One last thing seems important to me: when we talk about multidisciplinarity, it does not mean reducing the role of the architect in the construction of projects, but it means once again the ability to take responsibility for a dialogue that is increasingly necessary in the complex world in we live in. [...] It may be architect's role to take much care of the concept of community, and I believe that this is a responsibility that we cannot give up on.