Armando Ruinelli: how to reinvent simple things

Armando Ruinelli: how to reinvent simple things


By Carlotta Ferrati & Andrea Carloni

Maggio 2019

Armando Ruinelli has been awarded several times with the Häuser AWARD and Best Architects Award. This is an architecture that requires time and attention to be understood because it is made up of attention to detail and experimentation with construction techniques. In his architecture, craftsmanship becomes a design tool.

Armando Ruinelli – Photo: Marcello Mariana – 2019

You have carried out several redevelopments; what relationship do you have with the old?

The old is connected to the memory. Without it, it is difficult to develop the future and this is why what already exists influenced me.


You frequently use concrete and timber. Can you talk about as to why?

Although I am not biased towards any materials, I prefer to utilise concrete, timber or iron. They are readily available and they withstand the test of time which is something truly important to me. Another element I care about it is the relationship between the materials used and the craftsmen. Nowadays we assemble more than we build and this is the reason why I would rather use materials that also need shaping.

Ruinelli Associati SA – Casa RM – Soglio – 2009

Can you talk us through your design method?

I start from what already exists. For instance, I try to understand if the landscape, the light, the wind or a neighbouring house are conveying a message and inspiration. I very much care about the empty space, the area that will remain unbuilt, i.e. the public areas. In addition, I don’t like to commence construction unless I have clarified all of the project details. To this date, my team and I still rely on mock-ups made of paper, timber, plaster or even metal sheets. They are more accurate and truthful than computer generated reproductions.


When you are working on a new project, at what point do you realise if something isn’t working as it should?

This varies depending on the project. Sometimes it feels like you are on the right track from the get-go whereas in other cases this is not apparent and we insist on working on a solution which isn’t the right one.

Ruinelli Associati SA – Casa Me – Isola – 2013-2018

The computer mediated technologies are changing people’s social habits but if we look at your work, it appears not to be affected by this. Is this correct?

Although I am very interested in understanding people’s social habits and the direction we move toward to as a society; I am more interested in immediate exchange. For instance, I would rather think about how to create a reading corner where to also sit and talk, drink a glass of wine with someone rather than ponder on a place where I can connect to social media.
I feel that social media have come into our lives before we even had the chance to fully comprehend what they were. To give you an analogy, it is like the nuclear power plants that have been put into operation before knowing what to do with the waste. The same happened for social media and many people don’t know how to handle them.

Ruinelli Associati SA – Casa Mh – val monastero – 2014

Your work features many similarities in design and for the choice of materials used. Would you say your clients have common traits?

I am lucky to have had many interesting clients. Often they are people with clear ideas in mind. I find this is far more fascinating than having someone giving you ‘carte blanche’ without any specific input. Although it is paramount to be aware of the requirements of any given project, I feel it is also essential to know the people the project is for.

Ruinelli Associati SA – Casa Me – Isola – 2013-2018

When you are about to embark on a new project, are there any important values or beliefs to keep in mind?

I tackle every project in the same exact way. The first step is that of planning, then I proceed by envisaging the rooms and their views from different angles and then the materials to utilise. Lastly I need to bring to life the so called ‘Stimmung’ which in german means ambience or mood.

Casa RM – Ruinelli Associati SA – Soglio – 2009
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