FONDAZIONE PRADA, ITALY, MILAN, 2008
|Intervention on and transformation of an early 20th -century industrial site south of Milan to create new experimental spaces for the Prada Art Foundation|
By OMA © All rights reserved
It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for art's display remains limited. It seems that art's apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: the gallery (white, abstract and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary museum (a barely disguised version of the department store) and the purgatory of the art fair. The new Prada Foundation is also projected in a former industrial complex – Largo Isarco – but one with unusually diverse environments. We plan to add three new structures that vastly extend the range of the existing facilities, and to exploit existing buildings in new ways.
Within the perimeter of the Largo Isarco complex exist two freestanding structures: one flat and square and the second more vertical and connected to the great hall, which is already divided in three chapels. On close inspection, the square building did not offer attractive possibilities and will be demolished, enabling the courtyard to become a significant element for open-air use. The three chapels will be used for individual installations.
The great hall, an existing building, will be adapted for curatorial ingenuity: in its basement, the Fondazione's collection will be arranged in a hybrid of strict storage and partial display, creating 'chambers' where work such as a fleet of artists' cars can be unpacked or half opened to the public. This move was inspired by the increasing sophistication of artists' crating, suggesting a constant increase in value, mobility, and an almost militaristic need for preparedness. When displayed in its stored condition, even with a wrapping, art retains its aura.
The freestanding object to the west of the great hall, for reasons that are no longer clear, has a number of unusual features. Divided in three rooms with three interior 'pulpits' connected to an exterior balcony, its configuration suggests a precise industrial need that now reads as a quasi-religious environment. This object will be preserved.
Four 'houses' that face the courtyard to the north and an abandoned garden to the south will accommodate Fondazione offices and permanent galleries. The 'Haunted House' is an unusual vertical structure with many different rooms, and balconies that overlook the complex and the city. It will be decorated with changing wallpapers and other devices of interior design to generate an instrument for 'domestic' setting for specific works. Largo Isarco currently contains two archives: Prada's, methodically collected in grey shelving, and that of Luna Rossa's campaigns. They will become a fundamental part of the Fondazione's holdings.
The major addition to Largo Isarco will be a tower. After working initially on a storage/office tower, we propose a building that offers a catalogue of radically different architectural conditions, to be used by artists and curators.
A 'Black Box' will act as an autonomous cell, independent from the world – a meeting ground for art, media, technology and the public. It will also open up to animate and interact with the courtyard for open-air movies and other, yet to be imagined performances. In its default mode, it is a NASA-like control room, connected to other parts and episodes of the art system, captured and monitored in real time.
The final addition is the 'Ideal Museum', combining the intimate qualities of a traditional museum – a collection of rooms of various dimensions and qualities – with a large open day-lit hall for exhibitions of larger objects; both will enable the sophisticated technical controls demanded for international exchange of exhibitions.
Former distillery at Largo Isarco No2, Milan, an industrial complex dating from 1910, comprising seven existing structures, including warehouses, laboratories and brewing silos surrounded by a large courtyard.
Total exhibition space: 17,500 m2; 7,500 m2 existing industrial space and 10,000 m2 of new building space.
UNVEILING THE FOUNDATION
By Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli
After more than 15 years of activity, the Prada Foundation felt the need to widen its own exhibition spaces and broaden its cultural perspective. The enriched course of research we would like to undertake will be expressed through the expansion of projects realized in a dialogue with artists, and in future collaborations with leading international museums, institutes for contemporary art, architecture and design, as well as partners for temporary exhibitions. For this reason, we have commissioned the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) led by Rem Koolhaas to plan the transformation of an early 20th-century industrial site south of Milan.
The Prada Foundation's new and permanent exhibition spaces will be in a location that includes buildings dating from 1910s. Koolhaas's project will add an exhibition building, auditorium and tower to the existing structure to house selections of works from the collection and temporary shows. It will be a unique approach to the idea of the co-existence of contemporary architecture with the regeneration of an historic area, representing the evolution of Milanese industrial development that continues through the present day. In ongoing efforts to widen the Prada Foundation’s range of activities, the new auditorium will make it possible to host various festivals, theater performances, symposia and lectures on literature, art, cinema, design, architecture, philosophy and global media.
A FORCE FIELD
By Germano Celant
Otherness gives way to one's chances for "positioning" in a world market where an artwork's prospects for existence lie entirely in the ultimate satisfaction of the buyer, who is attracted solely by highly glamorous products or those symbolizing a buying power that will define his or her social status. At the same time, the decline of the artwork's oppositional and analytical value with respect to reality in favor of its economic value brings it definitively closer to the universe of design by driving art towards a purely decorative function in the environment in which it is exhibited as well as in the imagination of acquisition power. This position undermines art's need to exist as a process that transcends the public's demands and desires, plunging it inevitably into a world of alluring "things" however much some of these "things" may ostensibly or unrealistically oppose the system of consumption. Reduced to the production of "objects" and "things", art loses all claim to autonomy and begins to enter the world of "products" just as Pop Art and Andy Warhol already anticipated. It becomes confused with other industrial entities and the lives alongside them, sharing the same system of promotion, commercialization and media consecration, being classified in the upper tier of "exclusive" commodities.
If this is what is happening, an examination of its productive process calls into question its philosophical and political rationales, its antagonistic, adverse role, making it a fetish that – if not forced to adapt to the traditional, conservative requirements of generalized consumption because it hopes to broaden this area by introducing new images into it – cannot avoid responding to the "innovative" impulses of industrial society, those that have the greatest impact on public taste. Since 1990, such impulses have been associated with the negotiation of practical communications technologies based on physical entities ranging from the camera to the video recorder and movie camera, and virtual entities from the computer to internet.
These prostheses, which people use to communicate, have become so visible in social and artistic spheres that any distinction between the individual and the medium seems to have disappeared; they have come to coexist when they have not merged into one another. In this sense, the role and function of a Foundation devoted to the divulgation of contemporary artistic events must be re-examined and re-interpreted primarily, and almost absolutely, as a place of research into traditional as well as experimental techniques, so that their multimedial identity can be revealed. The Institution, moreover, must be driven to re-invent and present itself as an open, polymorphous "territory" for the energetic unleashing of all languages – from art to architecture, design, cinema, fashion, philosophy, music and theatre – to bring down the boundaries between the arts once and for all.
For this reason the Prada Foundation, conceived by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, has strived, since 1995, to create a "force field" in which all artistic languages might converge and radiate energies that reach beyond the walls containing them and into the urban context, achieving a national and ultimately global resonance. For over ten years, this perspective has enabled the Foundation, in collaboration with the artists and operators of individual linguistic spheres, to center its commitments on the creation of projects, installations, exhibitions, conventions and festivals in which "impossible" ideas might be brought to fruition. That is, they have succeeded in giving concrete form to large-scale constructions and events of great operative import that are truly spectacular and unique. They have also allowed such results to be accompanied by an important apparatus of scholarly and analytical documentation, including the production of books, CDS, and DVDS. All this work is inevitably reflected in the OMA/Rem Koolhaas project for the new architecture of the Prada Foundation, yet it is also looking to enrich and renew itself with new ideas and cultural perspectives stimulated by the new environment. With respect to the project, the new operating spheres are free to allow languages as well as historic events to interact and interweave with one another.
Editor: Todd Reisz
Design: Irma Boom Office - Irma Boom, Sonja Haller
Texts: ©Germano Celant, ©AMO/OMA Rem Koolhaas, ©Antonella Soldaini
Curator: Rem Koolhaas, Alexander Reichert
Exhibition/Staff: Josh Beck, Stephen Hodgson, Mei Lun Xue, Shi Yun Qian, Aoibheann Ni Mhearain
PRADA FOUNDATION TEAM
General Editor: Germano Celant
Associate Editor: Antonella Soldaini
Editorial Coordination: Stefania Arcari
Production Editor: Buysschaert & Malerba, Milan
Translations: Stephen Sartarelli
Publisher: Progetto Prada Arte srl, Milan
LARGO ISARCO N.2
The origins of the complex at Largo Isarco date back to the end of the nineteenth century. Until then, the area south of the railway was generally referred to as "Riparto di Via Brembo".
Among the earliest documents available in Milan's historic archives that mention directly the complex, is the request from the "Società Distillerie Italiane" to the Municipality of Milan for authorization to construct a "surrounding wall made of concrete along Via Brembo, Via Crema and a private road, to fully enclose the area that is part of the alcohol distillery". This query, together with perspectives, sections and relative approvals, dates back to 1909, and the address in reference and the entry to the area is Via Brembo 35. In later documents the Società Distillerie Italiane continues to make requests for interventions involving the reconstruction or expansion of spaces until 1941.
In 1910 the plant was expanded with the addition of a building consisting of 11 double vaults that were to serve as a spirits warehouse with six iron tanks, one of which could hold 9,000 hectoliters and the others 3,500 hectoliters.
In the successive requests, dated 1913, mention is made of a fire necessitating the rebuilding of a stable with a damaged hayloft. Among the same documents may be found plans and architectonic drawings with "Stabilimento di Porta Romana" written on it referring to the address of Via Orobia 2.
This mention would later be changed to "Stabilimento di via Brembo". Over the years several interventions have take place to expand, modify and construct buildings to be used as warehouses, offices and housing in the area, but the expansion of the area remained practically unchanged to this day, which is clear from a plan dated 1926.
From 1942 until 1964 the company mentioned in the documentation is the "Società Italiana Spiriti." Only in 1955 does it assume the address used today that is Largo Isarco n. 2.