The Pharmacy Courtyard at Milan University is one of the iconic settings for Milan Design Week. And this time it was also the location for the Augmented Surface project by Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel, part of the Interni Material Immaterial exhibition from April the 3rd to the 15th 2017. Augmented Surface was born from a desire to emphasize the Renaissance proportions of the Pharmacy Courtyard, while exalting its geometric nature to create an illusion using a theatrical mirror backdrop to seemingly produce two spheres to the courtyard, without actually altering it. The visual effect was of a perfectly symmetrical architectural interior, richly decorated with the hues of stoneware slabs. The architects opted for Marazzi’s porcelain stoneware on this occasion, because no other engineered material matches its appearance and performance, while being easy to work with and coming in a range of finishes. The unique nature of these new “environments” was emphasized by laying each Marazzi stoneware slab (150x75 cm) after the surface had been individually laser printed using an innovative treatment process that allows the final image to be built up, piece by piece, like an enormous mosaic. The project pushed the architects and the company to find the ideal surface finish and then to actually produce each slab, using hundreds of individual print files. Special base lighting helped to highlight the tiles laid on the ground, as they were central to the project. Then, additional slabs were placed around the cloister walls to produce a balanced overall appearance, filled with symmetry, visual appeal and chromatic richness. The result was to turn the courtyard into a space for exhibitions that draws on and exalts the porcelain stoneware, showing that it is not only a high performing material, but also a creative solution with numerous surface finishes.
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