LISTENING, EXPERIMENTATION, SUSTAINABILITY, COMPLEXITY and NARRATION are the five key words summing up PARK ASSOCIATI’s architecture and design culture.
The work of this firm, set up in 2000 by Filippo Pagliani and Michele Rossi in 2000, cannot be traced back to one single stylistic approach or pre-established design language, it really stands out for its great formal variability, mirroring the cross-the-board, open-ended and multidisciplinary approach of the two partners and their assistants. Every project carried out by the firm is unique of its kind, as is the input inspiring them, the places in which they are located, and the client’s demands that originally gave rise to them. A constant search for new ways of combining together signs, forms, geometric patterns, materials and technology is what makes PARK ASSOCIATI’s architecture so highly distinctive, allowing it to blend in perfectly with the most miscellaneous sites, develop building functions and typologies in a highly innovative way, and effectively and efficiently respond to the ever-changing requirements of clients, while covering every imaginable scale of operating from urban planning to object design.
The originality of the work carried out by PARK ASSOCIATI, an authentic workshop of ideas, is based on first LISTENING to the setting (what can already found in the surroundings), the history of buildings, and also the needs, desires and expectations of an entire community. For Filippo Pagliani and Michele Rossi listening means, first and foremost, falling into sync with the distinctive traits and conditions of a given location, with both its tangible and intangible assets, its strong points and weaknesses. This allows the company to design coherent works of architecture that are never bland or mimetic, capable of raising the standard of their surroundings or enhancing its good qualities.
This is how we should read the restructuring operations carried out on the Tiziano Building for Generali Property and also the former Campari Building, now known as “La Serenissima” or “Gioiaotto”, praiseworthy examples of how to functionally-technologically restore the 20th-century building heritage. This is a very cutting-edge issue in leading European cities and PARK ASSOCIATI, always keen to explore new realms of action, is its leading exponent in Italy, where it still has not yet been fully developed.
Studying various different issues and realms of operating is an integral part of that approach to EXPERIMENTATION that has always characterised the work of Filippo Pagliani and Michele Rossi, who by their very nature avoid preconceived design-cultural schemes. The two partners view architecture itself as a way of challenging building connections, well-established facts and formal/typological traditions. For PARK ASSOCIATI design means innovating and renovating the subject matter of architecture, constantly resetting its boundaries, shifting them towards the unknown to encompass every form of human creativity with the design phase, with particular reference to music (as a source of inspiration) and the plastic arts that often enhance their works.
An emblematic example of this philosophy of design is Salewa Headquarters in Bolzano, which, by revolutionising the very idea of a manufacturing building, creates an unusual landscape model poised between the artificial and natural. Then there is the travelling restaurant called The Cube by Electrolux, which opens up the way to a new kind of transient architecture, which, instead of moving around trade fairs and exhibitions, takes over the roofs of buildings and skylines of leading European cities.
In these works, as in all the various projects carried out by the firm, great importance is given to experimentation with materials and technology not only as a means of experimenting with the new, but, first and foremost, as an investigation into the expressive potential of familiar building components and way of exploring new usages and unusual combinations of industrial and craft production.
Listening and experimentation viewed in this way become synonymous with SUSTAINABILITY, interpreted as part of one single approach to design, meaning that PARK ASSOCIATI’s architecture is always grounded in sustainability. Grounded in sustainability in terms of environmental impact, providing a very cutting-edge rereading of the linguistic features of the context in which it is located or surrounding natural forms; and also from a socio-human point of view, striving to achieve the highest levels of interior living-psychological comfort, and in terms of the energy-saving standards set by leading certification bodies in this field. The use of active and passive technology cleverly incorporated in the aesthetic-formal features of buildings turns into the distinctive stylistic trait of projects like the aforementioned Salewa Headquarters, whose roof houses the largest photovoltaic system in Alto Adige, or the more recent Nestlé Headquarters in Milanofiori, which has received Gold certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for “Core and Shell”, thanks to its high-performance glazed shell.
In order to be fully sustainable, a work of architecture must be sustainable in terms of economic-managerial efficiency. That is why every project designed by PARK ASSOCIATI is always based on a careful and scrupulous programmatic analysis of the entire construction process. This allows the firm to hold together all the miscellaneous and often hidden elements underscoring a work of architecture; in other words, COMPLEXITY is kept under control by accommodating the budget, client’s desires, the technical-production conditions of an enterprise or company, systems of environmental relations and social needs.
The management of various different processes has allowed PARK ASSOCIATI to work with the Real Estate industry and investment companies: projects like the Azzate Commercial and Residential Complex designed for Intergruppo or the Acer Italia Headquarters in Lainate owned by the company of the same name blend together business requirements and architectural-urban quality, in order to stitch the wounds inflicted on the land by years of uncontrolled building expansion.
Controlling COMPLEXITY means, however, managing to confidently handle all the various different scales of projects, showing the same professionalism and expertise when coordinating the intrinsic issues associated with a detached house or processes connected with the manufacture of design objects, such as the Mollina Chair, Gazelle Table or recent Lampsi lamp, all made for Driade.
All this means that PARK ASSOCIATI’s architecture is structured like a complete NARRATIVE, whose words are forms, surfaces, materials and technological features. The selecting of these elements and the relations holding between them conveys different ideas and messages, evoking different value systems and opening up new stylistic languages in the firm belief, held by both Filippo Pagliani and Michele Rossi, that architectural design is the most immediate form of communication.
Working partnerships with the worlds of manufacturing and finance, which over the last decade have acknowledged architecture’s role in the workings of corporate promotion, have provided the firm with the chance to further develop its work along these particular lines.
More specifically, the company has focused on the issue of brand identity applied to architecture or, in other words, how to transform the distinctive traits, background and peculiarities of a brand or company into space, materials, furnishing and technical features. The Credit Suisse financial services built in Italy and Germany are an example of how the Bank’s interactive approach can be turned into a multimedia space in which technology is an integral part of the architecture and not just a way of dressing it up. CP Company’s Shop Systems use innovative materials and flexible solutions to symbolise the kind of experimentation with textiles that has always characterised their brand and its high-tech clothing. In contrast, Brioni’s concept store adopts a totally different approach. Having already opened mono-brand stores in Frankfurt and Milan, it will soon be opening new shops all over the world: this research project renders the classical style of this Italian brand with modern elegance, using very few materials and craft features to evoke the great tailoring expertise of this high fashion company.
So PARK ASSOCIATI’s work is poised between LISTENING and NARRATING or, in other words, between empathising with the unexpressed desires of a given location, community, client or brand and conveying an architectural message by means of elegant, innovative and original works of architecture.