By Andrea Carloni and Carlotta Ferrati
Piuarch, founded in 1996 by Francesco Fresa, Germán Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini and Monica Tricario, is an architectural firm based in Milan. Over time it has had the opportunity to become a reference point for architectural designs for the tertiary sector. Over the years they have had the opportunity to establish a relationship of trust with Dolce and Gabbana for whom they have built several buildings and have recently created the Gucci headquarters for Karing. Although these tasks often require complex management solutions, Piuarch has always managed to create volumes of remarkable architectural quality that stand out for rational façades designed with a rhythmic and clean composition.Each Piuarch project is based on an idea that is linked to “suggestions” that come from multiple disciplines. This approach allows Piuarch each time to create new architecture and not just a building.
Piuarch: Francesco Fresa, Germán Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini and Monica Tricario – Ph:DSL Studio
Our work consists of ongoing research that finds many references in other disciplines and in the social, urban and cultural context in which we are called to intervene.
The design phases that characterise a project vary greatly depending on diverse factors, such as the client, the type of building, the existing site.
In the presentation of your projects there is a section called “suggestions”. What role do they play in the construction of the project?
Our work consists of ongoing research that finds many references in other disciplines and in the social, urban and cultural context in which we are called to intervene. These suggestions we draw on become so many and influence the work, creating an osmotic relationship between our imagination and the architectural project. This plurality of references is reflected in the uniqueness of the buildings, which enclose the infinite bonds from which we draw our initial inspiration.
Piuarch – Bentini Headquarters, Faenza, RA – 2011- PH: Andrea Martiradonna
Piuarch works on multiple scales and in multiple places on the planet. What does it mean to manage such a type of structure?
It is a continuous pursuit of balance and a better order. We usually work in groups that are set up from time to time based on the projects, within which the forty figures that make up the studio rotate, mix, interact and confront themselves according to individual needs and knowledge. We members, together with the associates, coordinate and lead this plurality of voices and activities always bearing in mind both the whole as well as the eye to detail, and always looking for a quality of work from both a professional and personal point of view, taking care of and cultivating relationships, an aspect that affects the outcome of every project.
Piuarch – BLF Headquarters, Beirut, Libano- 2016 – PH: Piuarch
Many of your projects involve buildings for business activities. Where do you start from and how do you determine the correct distribution of working spaces?
An essential aspect in the design of office buildings and other work activities is to understand the customer’s needs. Working in most cases with large companies, careful evaluation and study are even more important. A meticulous research, where each and every detail is evaluated, from the company mission, to the expectations of top management and employees, to the work policy. It is a job almost in four hands, and every single space reflects the determination and the character of the brand. In this sense, all the buildings created for Dolce & Gabbana are exemplary projects, a brand that is characterised by a strong identity, which we express in every single detail, especially in the interiors, but at the same time trying to remain faithful to our architectural language. The result is apparent in the completely customised, unique buildings, which encompass diverse souls and exude cultural and artistic elements, whilst remaining at the same time, modern.
Piuarch – Dolce&Gabbana Headquarters, Milano, Italia – 2013 – PH: Andrea Martiradonna
Piuarch participates in, and wins many competitions. Is there a type of contest you prefer and feel holds more validity?
Participation in competitions is a very important activity for those in our profession, both as a work exercise and for the possibilities of intervention they offer. In fact, they are a great opportunity to compare ourselves with other architectural firms, and having precise requirements necessitates a very accurate approach, as well as refining the ability to understand the needs and transmitting them into the design. They also provide an opportunity to bring into play the multifaceted knowledge of our team, from the project design of architects and engineers, to interior and graphic design, which ensures continual professional growth. We do not have a favourite typology, however they are certainly a very stimulating way of working due to the numerous guidelines and constraints that must be respected which lead to a positively obsessive job. Nevertheless, it is curious to think that one of our most important projects, the “white wave” building in the heart of Piazza Gae Aulenti, stood out from the others and won first prize, presenting an almost “irreverent” project, going against the initial requests, and bringing together different ideas that were in the end recognised as valid and triumphant.
Piuarch – Porta Nuova Building, Milano, Italia, piazza Gae Aulenti – 2013 – PH: Andrea Martiradonna
In your projects, even if always different, the façades become protagonists and the design follows the complex rules which dictate the rhythm. Could this be a fair interpretation?
Sure, the façades have a crucial role in our work and are a distinctive feature of our architectural signature. We believe that at the basis of this peculiarity is the significant influence of artistic currents such as geometric abstractionism and kinetic art, as well as the strong desire to use light as a mutable colour shade to give a kaleidoscopic effect to interiors.
Piuarch – IDF Habitat Headquarters, Champigny-sur-Marne, Francia – 2017 – PH: Sergio Grazia – Martin Argyroglo
Can you describe concisely the salient phases for which a new task becomes a project ready to start the construction site? I ask this question because I imagine that in managing some of your projects you would need a considerable capacity for coordination.
The design phases that characterise a project vary greatly depending on diverse factors, such as the client, the type of building, the existing site. The ability to coordinate is therefore essential, as is the ability to rapidly adapt and react to constantly changing situations.
Piuarch – Gucci Hub, Milano, Italia – 2016 – PH: Andrea Martiradonna – Giovanni Hänninen
Piuarch is based in Milan but works in multiple countries, is there any place you would prefer to work?
Not particularly. In each place, from their geographical traditions to cultural ones, different stimuli and inputs arise. It is therefore, always interesting to be able to take the right approach, even in geographically different countries, since each place is privileged and the primary aspect in our process of inspiration.