Materials and design. In this third step, architects and Italian companies narrate the materials of the future:sustainability, efficiency, durability, beauty. Today we talk about ceramic and glass

Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel

“In the project for Building G, inside the master plan of the former Martinelli area at Morbegno (SO) – also by ACPV – the architectural choice of clean, modern, neo-rationalist forms is reflected on the façade in a game of full and empty zones, where compositional simplicity and rigorous forms are matched by balanced geometric design. The use of a ventilated façade system provides a valid technological solution in terms of protection and thermal performance of the construction, while at the same time increasing acoustic insulation to create an effective noise barrier inside the building. This system makes a decisive contribution to architectural quality. The rhythmic arrangement of the cladding, using slabs in different formats of stone-effect stoneware produced by Marazzi, installed in sequence but without being repetitive, develops a compositional scheme that supports the geometric layout of the façade openings, while simplifying interpretation of the forms.”

Doriana e Massimiliano Fuksas

“We want to call attention to a material in the experimental phase in the projects of the studio since 2019, which we are using for the floors of two projects under construction, the Gelendzhik Airport in Russia and the Dubai Global Connect in the UAE. Scratch is a new evolved ceramic material that stems from our collaboration with Ava, the luxury brand of La Fabbrica, a company that is part of Gruppo Italcer. In the form of dry-pressed slabs of porcelain stoneware (available up to a size of 320x160 cm, with thickness of 6 mm, for internal and external facings, all the way to roofs), this ceramic draws on its ductility to absorb the innermost essence of the materials on which it has been modeled. Rusted metals, oxidized bars, scratched slates and other elements with a rugged attitude, are grafted into the surfaces of the slabs and shape their appearance, giving rise to a contemporary identity of everyday living. The big advantage in the use of this material is the guarantee of a visually continuous surface, ensured by a production system, on an atomized level and in the finished product, organized in such a way as not to pollute the environment, with no wasting of raw materials. The production process calls for the recycling of all waste, which is then reutilized in successive product lines, guaranteeing up to 50% of recovered material.”

Michele Zini / ZPZ Partners

“In the project for the Toddlers Bilingual Primary School in Casinalbo (MO), based on a forcefully combined approach between architecture and pedagogy to support innovative methods in non-traditional layouts, the careful selection of construction and facing materials was of fundamental importance. This school does not have classrooms, but ateliers that can be used by the children in a fluid manner, depending on the activities taking place in a large central plaza, and within the wider, permeable boundaries of a park, in which to continue to learn outdoors. In this age span, cognitive processes are marked by underlying synesthesia. The children ‘touch’ the light, ‘see’ the temperature. The strategy has thus been to give them a complex, stimulating sensory environment, with a wide range of finishes: smooth, rough, transparent, glossy, matte. All to be perceived and freely interpreted during the adventure of learning. We have opted for contrasting and harmonious combinations of materials that age well (like wood) or that do not change over time (stoneware, glass, metal). In particular, we have chosen ceramic facings that contribute to the balance between filmy colors (applied) and intrinsic colors (native), selecting products by Florim (the partner in the project): the Casamood Neutra 6.0 slabs, large surfaces with deep colors and dynamic decorative textures, marking the entrance to the spaces; the Rex Extra Light mosaics become droplets of light in the bathrooms, combined with wood and ceramics; the Planches de Rex wood-effect porcelain stoneware, finally, creates a continuous pattern on the floor, of very high visual quality, in dialogue with the vibrations of exposed wood in the structure and the pavilion ceiling.”

Mario Cucinella

“Beauty in architecture has to know how to speak. But there is also beauty that remains unseen, below the surface, in new materials that by now are an active factor of creation. If we look at the current situation, we have to admit that buildings are not designed according to principles of adaptation and optimization of existing resources, but respond to other demands: economy, speed, cost, performance, completely depending on machines and not on the environment. This is the highest price we pay, in environmental terms. Which leads me to think about the use of materials that can function independently with respect to external energy: the so-called active materials. The cladding of the San Raffaele building in Milan, the white ‘skin’ of the Iceberg, is not a formalist ploy but a system of anti-smog ceramic strips of the new generation. This is a material produced by Laminam that is capable of reducing air pollution, with anti-bacterial functions. The quality of the space, the outdoor zones, the space inside the hospital, the colors, the ways the rooms are designed and the common areas, have the objective of granting people dignity, of reassuring. This is how we can talk about architecture, then: as a form of care.”

Massimo Roj / Progetto CMR

“When we talk about the regeneration of a building, there is not just the aim of mere aesthetic renewal – it is also necessary to operate on a deeper level, thinking about how the renovation can become an opportunity to enhance the surrounding urban context. The objective of our project for De Castillia 23 has not only been to create a new identity for an architectural artifact that remained unfinished for many years in the heart of Milan, but also to make it into an active tool of sustainability. For this reason, we have opted for façade cladding in porcelain stoneware treated with the Active Surfaces system by Fiandre Architectural Surfaces: a material that is not just elegant and versatile, but also provides high sustainable performance. We have chosen the eco-active surfaces of the Core Shade collection, in the Cloudy Core Active and Sharp Core Active textures: photocatalytic, self-cleaning, anti-bacterial, non-polluting and odorless. Each slab is treated with titanium dioxide and silver to improve its anti-bacterial performance, 24 hours a day, also in the dark. According to the Department of Chemistry of the University of Milan, the 16,088 square meters of special Active Surfaces slabs installed in this project can compensate for 59 kilos per year of nitrogen oxides, equivalent to over 200,000 square meters of green areas, bringing great benefits for those who inhabit the ‘smog-eater’ building and those who live in the vicinity, as well as the city as a whole.”

Marco Amosso, partner-director L22 Urban & Building

“We like to work on everyday architecture, not extraordinary creations that are an end in themselves. The focus is always on the value that can be generated by design, beyond fashions and trends. On any scale. This is the case of Torre Sassetti S32 in the Isola district of Milan, a building for which Lombardini22 has carried out a project of deep retrofitting. The concept was to emphasize the building’s transparency, with a strong sense of indoor-outdoor continuity, upgrading a particular portion of the urban fabric in the northern part of the Garibaldi-Repubblica area, Piazzetta Sassetti, where the building is the focal point. The goal was to trigger a correct relationship between the volume of the building and the permeability of its ground floor, conceived as a large semi-public hall, and of the two new upper levels, organized as shared spaces for the tower, with coworking/events areas and a terrace overlooking the city. The use of high-performance glass, selected with AGC, complies with proper energy measures while also embodying the architectural concept. The façade of the office portion, with a grid of bronze-coated sections with a special finish to enhance the rigorous composition, uses glass whose degree of external reflection and particular color underline the material continuity, also in the back-painted opaque parts. The large glazing on the ground floor, with a height of almost seven meters, and the enclosure of the multifunctional space on the roof, emphasize transparency and refined sense of permeability.”