28 May 2007

22 Mutti & Associates Architects + Via Ventura Project : When one really wants to become an architect.

To be an architect is not so easy job, to be an architect in a place like Italy is even more difficult. Everything there is already built. The birthrate is low, the population is almost shrinking. Moreover, everywhere is 'a history', from few thousands years old to few hundreds years old - they have to be preserved and preserved. As a young architect in Italy, a usual job would be to make a renovation or interior design of an existing building. To get an opportunity to design a whole building is even more than to win a first prize of a lottery! I always feel that I am very lucky not to be born as an Italian architect, otherwise I would give up this profession long time ago!

But Gianluigi Mutti's approach to be an architect in such a difficult place like Italy is very interesting. For several years, he was one of the main characters in the office of Ettore Sottsass (one of the masters of Italian design of the 20th Century). After quitting the office, instead of waiting for a client to call him to design a building, he began his own project. He has this idea to transform an old industrial area (factories and its facilities) around the suburb of Milan to become a 'hip place' for art and design community. In order to have a chance to design, he did not only become the entrepreneur of the project, but also the contractor. Very impressive indeed.

Gianluigi Mutti in his office.

His first project at Via Ventura is very fascinating. Now it is one of the hippest spots in Milan where there are the headquarter of Abitare Magazine, several art galleries, several design offices, School of Design (Scoula Politecica di Design), an art&design bookstore and etc. Besides, there are a number of 'loft' space where it is practically very trendy apartments.

Gianluigi Mutti himself has his architectural design office here in the compound of Via Ventura, mutti&architetti. The office is a very vast space, impressive scale with around 10 people working there with a very friendly dog - Aki.

At the top floor, he has his penthouse, where he also makes a number of experiments of new materials and construction detail. Unfortunately when we were invited to have dinner there at the penthouse, my camera was out of battery :(

The atmosphere of the overall project at this 'Via Ventura' is very nice, although architectural vocabulary is not yet significant. You can really feel the enormous efforts in making it!

The most interesting part for me is more on how to become an architect, who has a chance to build, to really 'create a place' for living, especially in such a context where there are zillions good architects out there without much to do.
Gianluigi already finished another gigantic industrial area reclaim in the suburb of Milan in Via Cascia - of course the place is getting very trendy as well. For the moment, his office received a lot of commissions to design also new buildings. After creating his own 'stage' to show his design skills, people began to recognize him and his team - very successful indeed.

The latest part added to Via Ventura project is even more interesting. Few months ago Gianluigi launched a communication tool, a website of the project called Ventura Broadcast --> www.venturabroadcast.com. It is a web magazine about design and events of Via Ventura compound and all around the world. It is quite a cute and intelligent way to create a design community both physically and virtually. Furthermore, it helps also to give a brand value to the project / the compound. The website is developed by Interaction Design Lab, Milan: www.interactiondesign-lab.com --> next time we talk about it :)

If you have a chance to visit Milan, as an architect, Via Ventura project is another interesting place to visit apart from those conventional ones like Duomo, Pirelli Building or the Last Supper. Perhaps, if you are lucky, Gianluigi could tell you how to become an architect as he did.

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