Architecture is the art of expressing human emotions through space. By filling the space that we inhabit (or leaving it empty), architecture creates some of the most age-defining expressions of human ingenuity. You might associate Italy with classical or even ancient architecture, but several Italian cities are actually home to some of the most celebrated contemporary architectural masterpieces. Architecture also draws its own kind of tourism and, particularly in the case of contemporary architecture in Italy, it is strongly connected with the growth of the Country’s economy. Companies and professionals doing business in Italy not only require apt and beautiful structures in which to meet and operate, but they also prompt the creation of new leisure spaces and the definition of a whole new concept of beauty. Contemporary architecture in Italy has been flourishing and meeting these needs for years, which resulted in some of the most notable architectural masterpieces of the past century, celebrated for their innovative style and efficiency. Here are four spectacular buildings that redefined the concept of contemporary architecture in Italy and pushed the boundaries of style and design worldwide.
Bosco Verticale – The Vertical Wood of Milan
The Vertical Wood is a spectacular skyscraper by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, which aspires to a complete redefinition of the concept of interaction between man and nature in an urban contest. Winner of the 2014 Highrise Award and the 14th Annual CTBUH International Best Tall Building Awards in 2015, this magnificent building is the perfect response to the conflicting needs of the modern city dweller. On one hand there’s a pressing need to be at the centre of business and culture, on the other we register a constant pining for a rural dimension, a wistful longing for a more balanced way of life, a slower and healthier pace. Bosco Verticale is a sustainable building, designed to promote biodiversity. The two towers that constitute this architectural complex are literally covered in hanging gardens, with over 2000 plants and shrubs that create their own microclimate, absorbing carbon dioxide and keeping the atmosphere within and around the buildings in healthy conditions of temperature and humidity. This is one of the best and most widely popular examples of contemporary architecture in Italy and it is said to have set a new standard in the harmonisation of style, beauty and sustainability.
Memory and Light – a 9/11 memorial in Padova
Not many know about this, but there’s a 9/11 memorial in Padova, designed by star architect Daniel Liebeskind. This glass monument in the shape of an open book comprises a 20ft long iron beam, a fragment of the World Trade Center. The memorial faces in the direction of New York, but it can be viewed by multiple angles. In fact, its main characteristic is the fact that the view it offers to the observer changes dramatically based on light and perspective. The Memorial is located in the Porte Contarine gardens and it was commissioned by the local administration in 2005, to convey a message of universal solidarity and brotherhood, transcending cultural differences and geographical distance. The book is meant to be a reminder of the one held by the Statue of Liberty, in which the solemn declaration of freedom is inscribed. It is also meant to symbolise the open book of history, which we are constantly writing by means of our choices and actions.
The Fuksas Cloud: doing business in Italy, in style
The Fuksas Cloud is one of the finest examples of contemporary architecture in Italy, and it is seldom open to the public. On the rare occasions that visits are allowed, the available dates sell out faster than a Coldplay concert on secondary ticketing. The Cloud is one of the more recent additions to the area of EUR, in Rome, where it was commissioned as the new congress hall for what is perceived as the business core of the Capital. The commission was issued in 2008 and the building was inaugurated in 2016. The Cloud is both efficient and sustainable and it employs state-of-the-art technologies and materials to provide an efficient and graceful environment. The Cloud is actually one of three elements (the other being The Hotel and The Case) that constitute the entire Congress Hall complex, but it is normally used to refer to the entire building. This is due to its characteristic shape making it by far the most remarkable part of the whole structure. The impression, from the outside, is of a weightless mass floating in an iron and glass case. The inside is a spectacular venue, designed to host grand business events with up to 8000 participants. The Hotel is the most practical part of the complex and it provides luxury accommodation for business travelers that attend congresses, conventions and events in The Cloud.
Museion, Bolzano: contemporary architecture in Italy is looking to the future
The Museion is a design museum in Bolzano, one of the provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige. This region, while usually perceived as being mostly linked to nature, tradition or, at a pinch, winter sports, has long since proven that it is at the forefront of cultural innovation in many respects, including architecture. Opened in 2008, this innovative structure is minimalist in its design and incredibly practical, efficient and graceful. Its box-like structure measures approximately 74 by 75 feet and it’s nearly 180ft tall. It was specifically designed to blend in harmonically with the surrounding environment and to be flexible. A complex system of movable walls allows the inner spaces to be redefined depending on the needs of the exhibitions and projects that are hosted within, while the transparent facades help create a constant communication between the Museion’s interior and exterior. The structure also comprises an array of bridges over the Talvera river, meant to be sculptures rather than pathways. Wavy, parallel arches stretch over the water, prolonging the structure of the museum itself and projecting it forward, embracing the environment both philosophically and physically.
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