A lamp for Artemide with which the Chinese studio MAD Architects interprets its vision of architecture connected to the landscape on the scale of the object. To bring a sign of energy from the natural world into interiors
by Matteo Vercelloni
Pingtan is the name of a small island, off the Chinese coast in the direction of Taiwan. This is where the studio MAD Architects designed a large private art museum that was never built, but triggered a path of research based on factors of landscape and concept.
The Pingtan Museum, in fact, would have been an ‘island on the island’: set into a lake, it reduced the territorial scale by direct analogy, establishing a relationship with the coast thanks to an undulating pier.
The project of the Pingtan Museum is an inseparable part of the research conducted on many occasions by MAD, last but not least the work on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art of Los Angeles, which attempts to blend the architecture into the landscape, making the constructed work an extension – or at times a metaphor – of the natural context, without sacrificing a contemporary image and without taking the path of facile botanical-floral camouflage.
In the case of Pingtan, the building was entirely identified with the artificial landscape of a sinuous ‘foundation’ island, whose hills and valleys formed the internal spaces like large architectural caverns devoted to art.
In a procedure based on the non-Euclidean fractal geometry developed in the second half of the 1970s by the French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot (a fractal is a geometric object with inner homothety, namely one that repeats its form on different scales, so that an enlargement of any part will produce a figure similar to the original), MAD has translated the Pingtan project on the scale of a domestic object (a lamp), making the original form of the island-museum become “a transparent shell shaped on the inside to make the signs of the contour curves come alive with a slight glow, interacting with intelligence with the light to spread it, gauging its emission.”
The Pingtan lamp for Artemide is like an iridescent shell formed by an aluminium structure on which the diffuser in transparent methacrylate rests, triggering the organic movement of the micro-landscape of which it is a synthesis.
Of remarkable size (90 cm x 57.5 cm), the lamp – offered in wall, ceiling and suspension versions – can also be used horizontally as a lighting element on the floor, creating a ‘landscape through addition’ as in other projects by MAD.
In this case, a small archipelago of luminous islands, underlined at the edges by an LED strip that runs hidden along the profile of the base, making the entire harmonious figure levitate on a beam of light.