Donnerstag, 21.10.2021 18:53 Uhr

Contemporary architecture: Interview with Pierluigi Piu

Verantwortlicher Autor: Paola Testoni Milan, 25.01.2021, 17:48 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Paola Testoni de Beaufort Bericht 21400x gelesen
Exteriors of villa
Exteriors of villa  Bild: Dietrich Steinmetz (Photocredits)

Milan [ENA] Pierluigi Piu has a special gift: the ability to convey the evocative culture of the place in his contemporary architectural projects. Born in Cagliari (Italy) in 1954, the multi-award-winning architect studied at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence.

Often is regarded as one of the protagonists of this architectural wave of storytellers. From splendid villas in Sardinia to restaurants in the centre of London, Piu never misses a beat in describing a place and a physical presence with skilful accents and details. This is also demonstrated by this latest project for a villa on the southern coast of Sardinia, designed with the intention of intimately linking it to its geographical and cultural context.

Pierluigi Piu

To do so, Piu adopts a sober and contemporary language, but one that is unmistakably Mediterranean, with references to the wonderful traditional craftsmanship of the island. Far from wanting to evoke Sardinia through conventional images, the architect finds his inspiration in the reproduction of some textures of traditional local weaving (typical ancient or contemporary fabrics and carpets), patterns of some characteristic goldsmith's products (gold filigree), embroidery and basket weaving, transposing them into stone or ceramic finishing techniques and coverings. We take the opportunity of the launch of this last project to meet the architect and talk together about these themes.

Dietrich Steinmetz (Photocredits)
Pierluigi Piu (Photocredits)
Pierluigi Piu (Photocredits)


European News Agency: Except for your relevant history as a multi-award-winning architect (IN/ARCHITETTURA 2020 Award, BUILD Award for Excellence in Architectural Design 2020, TAO Design Talent Award 2018, just to mention the most recent), you are famous for making architecture that is perfectly integrated into the territory. What elements do you start from to create a project?

Pierluigi Piu: The link with the territory is not, in fact, my only key to interpreting the project themes that are proposed to me, but it is true that I frequently come across cases in which the accentuation of this intimate connection seems almost to be required by the very context in which I find myself intervening. When this happens I try to extrapolate from it its essential connotative elements, which, consciously or unconsciously, remain imprinted in the memory, not only visual, of those who live there or visit it.

I try to transpose them into design elements that are then recognised –subliminally only, in most cases - by the observer, thus giving rise to mental associations that favour the perception of belonging to the local environment or to that which, for different reasons, one wishes to evoke. It is, if you like, the same old mechanism of the genius loci.

E.N.A.: In the creative process, how important is the territory in which the project will be realised and how important is the relationship of the architect with the client and the end user?

P.P.: As already mentioned, the territory is not necessarily an element to be taken into account at this stage, but in some cases it can be just as important as the relationship between architect and client. However, it is important, if not decisive, that the latter recognises himself or herself in the choices made by the designer.

E.N.A.: When looking at this wonderful project the first thing that comes to mind is this: although it is a building that is very different from the nature that surrounds it, it feels perfectly integrated into its surroundings. How is this perfect result achieved?

P.P.: This happens when the mechanism I have described above is effectively put into action. Of course, it is also necessary for the observer to have a more or less thorough knowledge of the culture and iconography that corresponds to that territory, so that the recognition device can be activated.

Pierluigi Piu (Photocredits)
Confinivisivi (Photocredits)
Pierluigi Piu (Photocredits)

E.N.A.: There are many references to Sardinian culture and history in this project. What is the creative process that leads to transforming these elements into architectural details?

P.P.: It is a process of transposition, through which iconographic elements layered in the collective memory - and associated by it with to a specific geographical and cultural context - are translated into as many elements and details of the project, taking care not to fall into trite folklore. These elements and details, scattered with balance along the observer's path, constitute the parts of a story that evokes, without slavishly reproducing it, the image of the place to which it refers.

Thus, here, the patterns of traditional weaving, rather than the interweaving of popular basketry, the virtuosity of typical goldsmithing or, again, the volcanic stone that characterises the eastern coasts of Sardinia, are translated into as many surface textures or other details that, without reproducing the original model tout court, contribute to defining the identity of the project "by references".

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