Archea Associati | Antinori
and a heart in folk art
Archea Associati, the recipient of important awards, has created works of architecture, design, interior and graphic design all over the world. For Marco Casamonti, partner and founder, it is the bonds, and above all, the sense of belonging, the ability to understand context, and the envisaged project as a narrative that make the difference, with history, culture and emotions.
The Perfetti Factory in Linate, Milan; the Antinori Winery in Chianti; a former wine warehouse in the port of Trieste recreated as an Eataly outlet; the covered market of San Lorenzo in Florence. There are also luxury apartments in Lugano, the library of Curno in the province of Bergamo, the Udine football stadium and the one in Tirana in Albania, as well as the Museum of Ceramics 80 km outside of Beijing.
What do these buildings have in common? All bear the signature of the Archea Associati studio. A beacon in the world of architecture which began to shine about 30 years ago.
Marco Casamonti has been part of the project from the beginning. “We started with three friends, three architects. From three we increased to four and gradually we have expanded to 120 employees and several offices in Italy: Milan, Rome and Florence, the historic headquarters, where I love working. And then other offices around the world that support various construction sites: the office for Asia, in Beijing, is useful for the many jobs we do in Vietnam; in Dubai where we follow the work in Russia and the Arab countries; another studio in Sao Paulo in Brazil where we oversee the work in South America; and a last one in Albania that we have opened because we are working on the national stadium in Tirana and an airport.”
For Casamonti, what counts in giving shape to Archea’s work is above all the sense of belonging to the country where you were born. “We have been greatly influenced by Italian Arte Povera: artists like Boetti, Burri, and certainly the Spatialism of Fontana and Castellani. Whenever we think of the facade of a building, we think first of a painting before another construction.”
But architecture is also unconscious. “When we completed the Curno library, for example, we imprinted a few letters in the concrete. Only after we had finished did we realise that the work drew on the poetics of Alighiero Boetti.”
Constant study and research. In addition to publishing and teaching at the universities of Genoa and Florence. “I think it is really very important to keep this opportunity alive,” explains Marco Casamonti. “Being in contact with young people, with their enthusiasm and new ideas, has brought us many benefits. And the best architects we have in our studios today were once our students.”
Archea has received many awards for its work in Italy and abroad. “The world of architecture is divided into two main categories. One is more commercial and more business oriented. The other perceives each activity as an intellectual project. For me, for example, architecture is art. It happens that, as with figurative arts, there are also competitions in our field. But we don’t see it like a sports competition. Here the aim is not to win, but to convince,” stresses Marco Casamonti.
If he had to choose two projects he is particularly proud of, he would have no doubt. The first is the Antinori Winery, which has become a temple of oenology and an example of respect for the landscape, because “it has been a training course for the entire studio and we have had the pleasure of working with intelligent and cultured clients”; the other is the majestic and revolutionary ceramics museum in China. If we talk about feelings, however, his preference is different: “Perhaps the building to which I feel most attached is the very small headquarters of the Archea studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I think it was the dialogue with the country and its fascinating culture that enriched me so much.”
“The world of architecture is divided into two main categories. One is more commercial and more business oriented. The other perceives each activity as an intellectual project. For me, for example, architecture is art.”
The meeting with Aba took place years ago. “By choice we generally work with medium-to-small companies because large companies often tend to impose their designs on architects at the expense of flexibility. Roberto Giaccherini and his company Aba, in contrast, are an example of great flexibility and professionalism that is a valuable stimulus for those working in our field. When I asked him to build the entire Antinori Winery in corten steel, even the counters, I was aware of the difficulty of the request: he didn’t even question it. He just did it, finding the right ways and technologies to get the best result.”
“Knowing how to work with materials is a privilege that very few parts of the world can boast of. Italy is among them. Being able to acquire this type of craftsmanship is one of the great fortunes of being born in Tuscany.”
“Roberto Giaccherini and his company Aba, in contrast, are an example of great flexibility and professionalism that is a valuable stimulus for those working in our field. When I asked him to build the entire Antinori Winery in corten steel, even the counters, I was aware of the difficulty of the request: he didn’t even question it. He just did it, finding the right ways and technologies to get the best result.”
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