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Piuarch

Designing an office building is not at all the same as designing the interior of an office. The office buildings designed by PIUARCH, a collective of architects based in Milan, Italy, emphasize the phenomenological qualities of the space rather than trying to micro-plan functions and details to meet the specific requirements of the corporate community. Is the sophisticated, well controlled abstraction of PIUARCH’s architecture linked specifically to office buildings, or could it be equally applicable to other building types such as houses, schools or museums?

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Porta Nuova

“Obviously you have to host the functions that are mentioned in the brief,” said Miguel Pallares, associate member of PIUARCH. “But fundamentally there is no difference in our approach. We apply more or less the same design principles to every building type. We see it as an interesting challenge, so to speak, to use a school as an office or an office as a school. As long as a building has good daylight and dimensions, and good orientation, it can be used in many ways. Our own office used to be a printing workplace where they printed books. When we rented it, we had to convert it into an architectural office. It was very nice to have five metre high ceilings. We increased the amount of light entering the rooms, but apart from that we kept the general structure of the former printing works.”

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Porta Nuova 2
Quattro Corti

But you have to cater for the specific requirements for designing offices and other workplaces, don’t you?

“The requirements exist, of course, but they don’t come from us; they come from the client. Clients want to optimize the utilization of floor space, to use the building efficiently, and to reduce power consumption.
And at the same time the building must have a certain appeal, so that people will like going to work there. Companies often hire specialized consultancy teams to recommend how the office space should be organized, and they usually come up with a very clear and detailed schedule of requirements for the building. These days everybody opts for an open interior, with a differentiation of work spaces and...

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Do you mean that PIUARCH’s designs for office buildings are primarily a matter of architecture and nothing else?

“We are not strictly concerned with typology. An office building doesn’t have to express the fact that it is an office building. Our Porta Nuova design, for instance, doesn’t look like a typical office block. The competition brief called for two office towers but we thought it was not a good solution for this particular site, which is flanked by lower buildings. We decided to design a single elongated volume, bending it so as to better define the surrounding public space. We were thinking not only about the building itself, but also the public space we were going to create."
“Since we abandoned the idea of two towers for Porta Nuova, we had to make it deeper than...

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Dolce & Gabbana