The new ArchiTALKS of Isplora takes us inside a quiet courtyard, isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city, where the "case di ringhiera" (a public housing typology typical of Northern Italian cities) and the hanging clothes stand side by side with creative ateliers and cooking schools. The masterclass makes us discover the figures of the architects Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto, founding members of the Milanese studio Migliore+Servetto Architects.
The lesson winds around the biography of the architects Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto, starting from their Turin roots, from the story of their families and their city, with its rigorous design and an artistic scene rich in heterogeneous and multidisciplinary stimuli. The meeting between the two founding members thus joins the encounter with their references, ranging from art, cinema, theater and literature. However, the meeting at the Polytechnic of Turin with their mentor, Achille Castiglioni, has been decisive.
Certainly, the meeting with Achille Castiglioni was a revelation for us, in the sense that it completely changed our way of conceiving the project: […] he was the one who told us: "You have to design behaviors: we don't design objects, we design the things that happen around objects." [...] His lessons in Turin then, were true events with an explosive echo. At the beautiful Castello del Valentino, overlooking the Po river, his classroom was at the top of a small tower [...] and the students arrived hours earlier to find a seat in the classroom, then everyone would sit on the steps until the ground floor, trying to hear what they could, and some extra speakers were installed, but you could not see anything ... Nevertheless, everyone was willing to do anything as long as they could take part in such unusual, non-academic lessons, so transversal and cross-sectoral. [...] Achille would pull the strangest objects out of a bag he had with him, objects with an anonymous design, to stimulate though: the designed objects can affect our behaviors and define them.
Milanese by adoption also thanks to the same Achille Castiglioni, from whom they learnt above all the transversality of the method and the curiosity in the approach to the creative search, that in their case is enriched thanks to a combination of analogical and digital tools, from the freehand sketch to the video animation.
Ico Migliore for example "always starts from sketches" because
Drawing is nothing but a storyboard of what you think. The drawing must in fact be populated by thoughts. [...] When we draw, every time we trace a line on a sheet of paper, this line is not a line but means something, it means transparency and material, and today this also has a communication value: this line speaks. [...] Then I put down some writings about things that come to mind, also as references, and then I animate them with words, feelings or ambience, sound, light: so this "living" sketch becomes one scenario, and then these set of animated scenarios are sequences that I put together in a series of maps. [...] I am not busy making beautiful drawings, on the contrary I am quite worried about beautiful drawings, [...]as I am convinced that drawing is like talking, a sort of physical brainstorming. [...] These drawings then become 3D models, situations that I then resume in drawing, and this leap between analog and digital corresponds to the architect's fundamental ability to move, to zoom in and zoom out. [...] In the end, drawing speaks everyone's language.
Frames, full and empty, light effects and dichotomies between reproductions and originals, leaps of scale and in-depth insights are just some of the tools we see emerging in the projects by Migliore+Servetto Architects. The projects as a film direction, structuring a spatial montage, this is a design method where time is "the only unit for space measurement" and where the attention of the user is focused on the wonder of experience. But “what does “experiencing” mean? "Perceiving, memorizing, penetrating, becoming aware of a history, take the visitor inside a scenario that can narrate quality and something further […]”
In this way the masterclass reviews some of the most significant achievements of the studio. Some design examples report the story of a brand identity or a city into space: exemplary are the projects for the Mondadori and dmail stores, or the installations for Moreschi - Walking Pleasure and for Coats! by Max Mara, as well as urban installations in Turin designed together with Italo Lupi. Other works go through the different declinations of the “museum” typology instead, which for Migliore and Servetto go beyond the “funfair museum” or the traditional “pin-wall museum” to make room for a “narrating museum” as in the case of the Chopin Museum in Warsaw, the installation for the Madonna della Misericordia by Piero della Francesca or Leonardiana in Vigevano.
With regards to the latter, the architects worked on the "relationship between original and replica", because
There is an extraordinary container, the Maschio of the Castle of Vigevano, where Leonardo himself walked, and therefore the original is the container that, renovated, contains very high quality replicas that allow a deep knowledge of Leonardo's work. Then the subject of the museum is the knowledge both of an original place and of a collection all together.
In the so-called “Pinacoteca Impossible” (literally: “Impossible picture gallery”) designed by the architects you can see all the paintings of Leonardo at the same time:
We go to the Louvre to see a painting at a distance behind a glass, with long queues of visitors, then we’ll see another one somewhere else, and yet another one in other places, here instead we can see them all together, we can compare their dimension, the use of color, the scale, the landscape. This visual exercise is only allowed by the physicality of being in that place, because art history books do the same thing, but the dimensional scale is lost: the Mona Lisa seen on a book seems to have a dimension that in reality is different, so we value the relationship with the real scale. So, the relationship of experience we built between visitors and museum is very focused on a physical relationship with a replica that bears crucial data of the original piece...
Each project must spring from a creative force that finds a solid foundation only in a careful research filtered through the architect's ability to synthesize. Thus, each work is structured on a physical, cognitive and mental path punctuated by a conscious design of human behavior, through the design of spaces and times of use. Sustainability is therefore, for architecture, not only the design of sustainable buildings but also, and perhaps above all, of sustainable behavior:
We talk about sustainable projects starting from materials and production processes and it is absolutely correct, but the sustainability of the project actually lies in the result of the behaviors they determine.