From now on, cultural elegance has a name. Stitched with gold and modesty, the Fondazione Prada has opened a new field to the art of questioning the contemporary world. It is more than a museum, it is an open artwork signed by Rem Koolhas and the studio of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, which is stimulated by a variety of activities.
In the south of Milan, Miurccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli are not introducing anything new to the landscape of contemporary art. It is not a museum closed on its own history, nor is it jealous of its collections. Nor does it reflect what one would expect architecture and art to necessarily be like nowadays. The strong and rigorous step towards stylistic art that they carry out by trusting the Office of Metropolitan Architecture is to create a complex of 19000 m2 in an old distillery just outside Milan is no doubt far off from the philosophy, which shape the Prada look: avant-garde, chic and different. Their constant quest on languages and disciplines which are a part of a systematic learning tool, under the control of the critic, Germano Celant the Fondazione Prada reunites a collegiate artistic form of management, which confronts and meets its vision of the contemporary world. Art, history, architecture, cinema, philosophy, and literature…coexist and privilege a cherry-picked project, which are cultural, subtle and unseen. As soon as entering the campus, one feels the ambiance! Whilst the jukebox of the 60’s plays in the background, the Bar Luce, every hour, on the hour makes wonderful panini’s, and they are to die for, pastel ice-creams and cakes, sweets and caramels… this concept, imagined by the American filmmaker, Wes Anderson, with a precious dreamlike touch, which has characterised him, since the production of The Grand Budapest Hotel, he is inspired by the atmosphere of the historical cafes in Milan. He shares a wink of complicity with the famous Galleria Vittotorio Emanuele, where began the Prada saga. With its softly coloured furniture made in Formica, from Miracle à Milan à Rocco and his brothers, the Bar Luce pays a strong tribute to the Italian cinema of the 50’s and 60’s.
On the two levels of the glass Podium are being held the most relevant exhibitions such as Atlante del Gesto, Gianni Piacentino and Serial Classic. In the north and south galleries, in the huge concreted tanks or in the Maison Hantée lined with golden leaves, a journey through contemporary masterpieces sweep through the artistic territory of the Prada collection, from the 60’s to today, with Lucio Fontana, John Baldessari, Walter De Maria, Eva Hesse, Damien Hirst, Robert Gober, Francis Picaba, Louise Bourgeois…and the extraordinary replenishment of a permanent grotto was installed by Thomas Demand. For the greatest pleasure of the moviegoers, the films that were a source of inspiration for Roman Polanksi are projected every Friday and Saturday, as well as the rich travelling of his filmography. The library and “l’Accademia dei Bambini” (the Academy for Children) complete this museum arrangement where diverse and conflicted cultures are always welcome. Fondazione Prada is the only building in Italy to have been shortlisted as one of 40 finalists for the 2017 Mies van der Rohe Awards, also known as the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
About the architects: The Office for Metropolitan Architecture is the international studio of architecture, of urbanism and of a cultural analysis, which was founded in 1975 in Rotterdam, by the architect Rem Koolhaas. His objective: to create smart structures, which are capable to explore new possibilities in terms of its contents and functionality.
Words: Cécile Vaiarelli & Daniela Slater