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I recently visited the Metrogramma practice. Work was underway to annex the lower floor to part of the first floor. Showing me round the new premises, Alberto Francini, one of the partners, pointed to where the lift linking the two floors would be. Surprised by the size of the shaft, I asked what sort of lift was being installed. A normal size one, was Francini’s reply, simply that the shaft would be lined by bookshelves, a space-saving ploy that would also make even this short journey an interesting spatial experience. “Like Koolhaas in the Floriac villa?”, I asked. “Yes, come to think of it”, was the answer. “But”, he added, “I don’t think we were thinking about that particularly”.
In fact, while Metrogramma can claim credit for being the first to import both the lexicon and planning approach of the Dutch school, it also has many original arrows in its quiver. The practice...

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