This project is a contemporary interpretation of the architecture of the 18thcentury courtyard of the State University of Milan, translated and transformed from rigid Cartesian geometries into the linear fluidity of dynamic space. Adapting to the natural contours of the courtyard and the forces that converge towards its center, the project emphasizes the slope of the arches, creating a powerful vortex of spatial distortion that favors dialogue with the surrounding colonnade. The development of the complex three-dimensional curved geometries of the installation, starting with the flat ceramic tiles, adds another level of complexity to the whole.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the sculptural sensibility and formal dynamic of different elements in which the balanced relationship between solids and voids expresses the project solution. Each individual piece can be interpreted not only as a whole, but also as a captured fragment of a magnetic field. A certain margin of strangeness introduces a stimulus that has evolved between latent force and physical material.
The project consists of laminated stoneware sheets (Slimtech by Lea Ceramiche), 1 meter wide, cut at various heights, up to 2 metres. The edges follow the elegant flow of the geometry that corresponds to an overall tiled surface of 800 m2. Each panel is composed of two overlapping layers of ultra-thin tiles of 3 mm. For the installation 7 different color codes have been used, creating shadings from white to black. Seen from the side, the various colors give rise to constant changes of appearance, taking advantage of the changes in the daylight and the nature of the curvature. The installation transforms the courtyard into a space that constantly alters its form and color, depending on multiple perspectives. The platform realigns the deformed grid of the colonnade to the pixelated floor tiles and underscores the shadow of the vertical tiles.
Excellence, innovation, enthusiasm, aesthetics, competency and reliability: these are the founding values of Lea Ceramiche, the Fiorano Modenese-based company which designs and produces floor and wall ceramics for all kinds of settings. The company’s ability to innovate lies in its continuous experimentation, which leads to the development of cutting-edge production systems and technologies and allows Lea Ceramiche to supply its customers with a wide range of high quality products which lie at the top end of the market in terms of excellent technical performance and design qualities.
Slimtech is one example of this: the revolutionary laminated stoneware, just 3 mm thick and extra-sized at 1 x 3 metres, suited for uses which until now have not been accessible to traditional ceramics and protagonist of the installation by Zaha Hadid for Interni Mutant Architecture & Design 2011. Lea Ceramiche is part of Panariagroup Industrie Ceramiche, a leading international ceramics group quoted in the Star segment of the Italian stock exchange, which also owns the brands Panaria, Cotto d’Este, Fiordo, Blustyle, Margres, Love Tiles and Florida Tile.
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
A series of fluorescent tubes (Algoritmo lamps specially produced by Artemide, designed by Carlotta De Bevilacqua) spread light from the center toward the edges of the site to the colonnade, lighting the existing architecture and forming a link between the rigid Cartesian setting and the linear fluidity of the installation.
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Woody Yao
Project Architect: Johannes Schafelner
Team: Yuxi Fu, Manon Janssens, Maha Kutay, Danilo Arsic, Filipa Gomes Photos: Luke Hayes, Andrea Martiradonna