Fondazione Prada
Bas Princen, Courtesy of Fondazione Prada
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
Manufacturerspba S.p.ACAP HOSPITALITY
ManufacturersDuravitStarck 3
ManufacturersDott. GallinaARCOWALL®5613
LightingZumtobel Lighting Gmbh
Material suppliers Cymat Technologies
ManufacturersLea Ceramiche

Product Spec Sheet
Material suppliers

Fondazione Prada

OMA as Architects

It is surprising that the enormous expansion of the art system has taken place in a reduced number of typologies for art's display. To apparently everybody’s satisfaction, the abandoned industrial space has become art’s default preference -- attractive because its predictable conditions do not challenge the artist’s intentions -- enlivened occasionally with exceptional architectural gestures. The new Fondazione Prada is projected in a former industrial complex too, but one with an unusual diversity of spatial environments. To this repertoire, we are adding three new buildings -- a large exhibition pavilion, a tower, and a cinema -- so that the new Fondazione Prada represents a genuine collection of architectural spaces in addition to its holdings in art.The Fondazione is not a preservation project and not a new architecture. Two conditions that are usually kept separate here confront each other in a state of permanent interaction – offering an ensemble of fragments that will not congeal into a single image, or allow any part to dominate the others. New, old, horizontal, vertical, wide, narrow, white, black, open, enclosed -- all these contrasts establish the range of oppositions that define the new Fondazione.

By introducing so many spatial variables, the complexity of the architecture will promote an unstable, open programming, where art and architecture will benefit from each other’s challenges." Rem Koolhaas Located in a former gin distillery dating from 1910 in the Largo Isarco industrial complex on the southern edge of Milan, the new home of Fondazione Prada is a coexistence of new and regenerated buildings including warehouses, laboratories and brewing silos, as well as new buildings surrounding a large courtyard.

The complex aims to expand the repertoire of spatial typologies in which art can be exhibited. The project consists of seven existing buildings, and three new structures: Podium, a space for temporary exhibitions; Cinema, a multimedia auditorium; and Torre, a nine-story permanent exhibition space for displaying the foundation's collection and activities. Torre, currently undergoing construction work, will be open to the public at a later date. Within the perimeter of the Largo Isarco complex existed two freestanding structures: one flat and square and the second more vertical. On close inspection, the square building did not offer attractive possibilities and was demolished, enabling the courtyard to become a significant element for open-air use. The Deposito, an existing building on the west edge of the complex, is adapted for curatorial ingenuity: in its basement, the Fondazione's collection is arranged in a hybrid of strict storage and partial display, creating 'chambers' where work such as a fleet of artists’ cars can be unpacked or half opened to the public The freestanding object to the east of the Great Hall, dubbed the Cisterna,

is divided in three rooms with three interior ‘pulpits’ connected to an exterior balcony. Its configuration suggests a precise industrial need that now reads as a quasi-religious environment. The Cinema acts as an autonomous cell within the compound. With large bi-fold doors, it can be instantly connected to the courtyard. Inside, the raked seating can be converted into a flat floor, allowing the space to be used for staging outdoor events or as additional, covered gallery space. Four 'houses' that face the courtyard to the north and an abandoned garden to the south accommodate Fondazione offices and permanent galleries. Within their confines sits the ‘Haunted House’, an existing building with its exterior covered entirely in gold leaf. Inside, the intimate scale of its interiors generates a ‘domestic’ setting for specific works. Adjacent, the Podium forms the center of the compound, sitting at the intersection of the two perpendicular axes through the site.

This addition combines two volumes of very different qualities: a fully glazed, column-free podium on the ground floor. Resting on top is another gallery space clad in aluminum foam , with a bubbled pattern. Both galleries provide large, multi-purpose areas for temporary exhibitions and events.

Golden summer in Milan: Fondazione Prada

Duravit as Manufacturers

Summer in Milan is la dolce vita par excellence – soaking up the sun’s rays on Cathedral Square while enjoying a refreshing gelato.

Away from the center, the Fondazione Prada sparkles in the summer sun. It is without a doubt the eye-catching architectural focus of the Largo Isarco industrial complex in the southernmost suburbs of the Italian metropolis.

Construction started in 2008, and the Fondazione was finally completed in 2018. It is a mixture of old and new. In collaboration with the project architect Federico Pompignoli, the celebrated architect Rem Koolhaas and his team have created a complex architectural structure that successfully connects dissimilar elements that would not normally match. Koolhaas has taken the historical substance and brought it up to date to make a new architectural ensemble. All of the old and new fragments interact continuously in a poised combination of restraint and invention.

Koolhaas and his colleagues from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) gave considerable thought as to how to make the building really stand out. They tested different gold paints and attached specially coated metal panels, but the façade still looked green or even brown, depending on the way the light fell on it. In the end they had no choice but to use real gold, no less than 3 kg of 24-carat gold leaf.  

This outlay was what they needed to completely cover the tower on the Fondazione Prada site in Milan and make it shine. Inside the building, Duravit Starck 3 toilets by the famous designer Philippe Starck and Duravit Architec toilets – design classics for the private and semi-public sector for over twenty-five years – also shine in their own way.

Today the building in a former gin distillery built in 1910 is home to a number of prestigious exhibitions. The Fondazione is not only a museum and gallery, however. The 28,340 m² industrial complex has an unusual variety of locales, including a cinema, a restaurant, an office building and a library.

This story is available in multiple languages
Arnhem Central Transfer Terminal
next project

Arnhem Central Transfer Terminal

Stationsplein, Arnhem, Netherlands - Build completed in 2015
View Project