The search for wider horizons has prompted Peter Pichler, a young architect from Alto Adige, to look beyond the Alps.
To explore the new worlds of design: from China to the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi.
Without losing sight of the snow-capped peaks of his native Bolzano
Photos Oskar Dariz and Jens Rüssman – Article Laura Ragazzola
Peter Pichler, the up-and-coming architect from Alto Adige, has come a long way. Not just in terms of his career, but also in his travels and experiences around the world. He is 35 years old, with a studio opened in Milan in 2015 together with his wife Silvana Ordinas, Pichler has never stopped coming to terms with different contexts on an international level, gaining the respect of a prestigious range of clients, along with important prizes and honors.
What have been the phases of your professional progress?
I was born in Bolzano, but I trained as an architect in Vienna and Los Angeles. Back in Europe, I gained experience with Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam, and I worked in the team of Delugan Meissl in Vienna. Then I went to London, a very important step for my professional and human formation, thanks to the architect Zaha Hadid, who was my teacher in Vienna and then my mentor: after taking a degree, in fact, I was chosen by her as a project architect in Hamburg and London. She taught me a lot, and her death in 2016 was truly a great loss.
So at a certain point you returned to Bolzano…
Yes, but I only stayed a few months: the time it took to understand that I would not put down professional roots there… I had lived abroad for many years, and I felt more like a citizen of the world, though I did want to stay in Italy. Milan seemed like a perfect solution, since it is the capital of design and the home of important international architecture firms.
How many people work in your studio?
At the moment there are twelve architects, beside my wife Silvana and me. It is a bit crowded, so we will have to expand the spaces…
After just two and a half years?
Yes, because we won two important competitions: one in Holland and the other in China. And at Abu Dhabi we are designing residential villas.
So work takes you beyond the Alps?
From the outset I have had the opportunity to work on international commissions. I had recently returned to Bolzano when I got a message from a client in the Arab Emirates, who wanted me to design a villa. I was so surprised that I immediately thought it might be an e-mail swindle. Instead, it was just the first in a series of villas we are making in Abu Dhabi.
Other works abroad?
In China we won a competition for the design of four mixed-use towers. They will be in an residential area in the forest, about 30 kilometers from Kunming, in southeastern China: a place where the inhabitants of Beijing go on vacation…
It is a challenge to work in such a faraway country, not only in geographical terms…
Of course, but it is also a great opportunity, because you are immersed in the culture of another people, so you have to understand their traditions, to study the territory, the climate… In short, architecture becomes a chance to understand a place better. And it is interesting to observe diversity, which always brings new experiences and inspiration…
Does that also happen in Alto Adige?
Definitely, though I grew up here, and from childhood I have spent time in these valleys and mountains. But the commitment, the effort, are always the same.