A portrait of four international renowned italian architects who are continuing to this day to enthral us with their innovative creations. Eco-architect Stefano Boeri has scored high marks with the Bosco Verticale, his skyscrapers wrapped in plants in the heart of Milan. Pritzker Prize winner Renso Piano has made his name with his high-tech architecture, of which the Centre Pompidou and The Shard are prime examples. Matteo Thun enchants with his timelessly elegant designs that are able to respect the soul of the site. The Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo has been able, with his cutting-edge, almost archetypical work, to engage with centuries-old cultures and civilisations.
The Milanese architect-urbanist Stefano Boeri gained worldwide recognition with his Bosco Verticale, two skyscrapers in Milan, completely wrapped in luxuriant plants. The sustainable residential project, a green oasis in the concrete jungle of the city, has been imitated in Paris, Utrecht and on the Antwerp Nieuw Zuid, where the Palazzo Verde promises to become the country’s greenest building. Boeri’s most impressive project is indisputably Forest City, a complete city forest in the Chinese million city Liuzhou. Boeri is a creative jack-of-all-trades, who is architect, professor, guest speaker and author. He was, for example, the editor-in-chief of Domus and Abitare. He was recently appointed curator of the 59th Salone del Mobile in Milan.
The star architect from Genoa, Renzo Piano, will undoubtedly go down in the history books as the designer of the Centre Pompidou in Paris (together with Richard Rogers) and of The Shard in London, Europe’s highest skyscraper. In his high-tech architecture – with a predominance of steel, aluminium and glass – the building’s skeleton is often visible. That technique and elegance are not contradictory is proven by the architect in, say, the graceful, generously located Tjibaou cultural centre in Nouméa. In 1998, Piano won the prestigious Pritzker architect prize, aka the Nobel Prize for architecture.
Timeless simplicity and restrained luxury characterise the work of Bolzano-born architect Matteo Thun. The architect, a notorious member of the legendary Memphis Group, has been running his own office since 1984, concentrating largely on the luxury hotel sector. His private residences also place a premium on resident well-being. Thanks to Thun’s search for the genius loci, the soul of the site, his architecture seems to melt into its surroundings. The Vigilius Mountain Resort in Southern Tirol follows the contours of Monte San Vigilio. The Villa Adriana in Zurich, constructed with glass cubes, acts as a window onto the landscape.
The Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo amazed the international professional media with his Seven Imagined Houses: hyper-realistic computer images of buildings that will never be built. Whether he is working on his imaginary concepts or his tangible projects, Cardillo’s unique, archetypical work synthesises centuries of civilisation and makes eager use of historic building elements. His occasionally daring, then his restrained colour palette gains its strength thanks to the wide use of textures chosen, including roughly applied pozzolana plaster. His monumental, almost sacred rooms – a cave, a labyrinth or an oratory – breath an aura of mysticism.