Architecture as a work of art

Interview with architect Massimo de Gennaro

9 JULY 2013
What is the design philosophy underlying your study of architecture?

My first training was in art; I always thought of architecture as a work of art and therefore a unique, original work because it’s linked to a place and a client, and created in a specific period of time. In my work I always try to analyze, understand and interpret the places and the spaces, to pick up suggestions and images which I then translate into a set of preliminary sketches and drawings that become the idea for the design. Compared with other art forms, architecture in its performance is highly conditioned by an infinite number of questions that have nothing to do with the essence of the design. The major difficulty lies in being able to manage these conditioning factors and create the design without betraying the magic of the idea.

Could you please describe, just briefly, the most important aspects of the design?

The main features of the site where the building is located are a set of industrial premises comprising prefabricated factory buildings. My design for offices is the main building, fronting onto the road, of a new factory with which it was going to be linked. I immediately saw the need for a strong characterization in the design. The main idea was to create a long building parallel to the factory and to the road, suspended on two pillars to mark the spatial continuity between front and back on the ground. In this way the building attempted to establish an urban architecture quality in the relationship – even though this is indirect, being seen in the depth of the plot of land – with the road; it also performs the task of determining a precise functional and formal hierarchy for the whole settlement area. In designing the main facade, I imagined a musical stave on which I could compose a series of notes. This was a way to spell out the volume of the facade following the theory that deep openings, not aligned with each other but rhythmically composed, would avoid the uniformity of the prefabricated facades. On the ground floor, two buildings made entirely of glass are fitted into the spaces between the pillars; in this way, on the internal side towards the factory, I designed a set of green spaces, and the openings to the offices and the meeting rooms look out onto these.

What aspects of this project do you consider to be particularly cutting-edge and in tune with modern developments in the way of designing for this sector?

The most interesting aspects were dictated by the need to match the constraints posed by industrial mass production to the possibility of creating a finished work with a precise, independent and even formal identity.

At what point in the development of the design did discussion about the materials take place, and how was the choice of them made?

I have a deep respect for the features and qualities of materials and I distinguish those materials that are the structural part of an architecture from those for finishing. The former materials condition the design choices straight away, while the latter are selected when the design has been completely defined in its spatial and formal configuration, and they act as a support for these design choices.

Florim tile ranges offer products with suitable characteristics for this type of design. Which ones in particular did you decide to use, and what were your aims in doing this?

The choice was oriented towards the “Casa dolce casa” Neutra range, a product that I had already used in other designs for private dwellings. I was interested in obtaining a unique, homogeneous surface that would enhance the sense of spatial continuity between the various areas, and between interior and exterior.

The Florim Group considers it an integral part of its job to be a reference point for designers also during the phase when their designs are being implemented. Was it important, in this project, to be able to draw on the experience and skills of the Company’s specialists?

It certainly was. I found their specialists to be always available and ready to help.

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