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Maina Headquarters Fil rouge daring to amaze

Gianni Arnaudo

Maina Headquarters Fil rouge daring to amaze
By Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi -

Gianni Arnaudo graduated from Turin’s Polytechnic in 1971, a time of great social upheaval in Italy that spilled over to the world of architecture. To give just two examples, these were the years of the competition for the renovation of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and, three years previously, Milan’s Triennale had been occupied by protesters. Arnaudo had his first work experience at this very time with Studio 65 (where he remained a driving force until 1976), one of the radically avant-garde practices on the scene, which embraced Pop Art and the new avenues being explored in Turin but also in Florence, Milan and Rome. As is the case with much radical architecture, Studio 65’s work at that time was highly iconic. Following an essentially conceptual approach, the firm set out to surprise and disorientate. This is an underlying feature that Arnaudo himself has never abandoned, including in his design work, notably the Déjeuner sur l’Arbre table, created for Gufram and now included in the permanent collections of a number of museums, including Paris’ Centre Pompidou and Basel’s Vitra Design Museum. Although keeping abreast of the times, subsequent developments in architectural discourse and new demands (dictated especially by growing environmental awareness), his projects have never lost that critical edge that springs from a brilliant, often provocative idea. Although mostly below grade, the recently built winery in Piedmont’s Barolo district - amusingly named by its owner “L’Astemia Pentita,” or the Repentant Teetotaler - features two timber volumes that, at the macro level, reproduce wine boxes. The program is rife with intellectual references, notably Robert Venturi’s Duck theory, i.e. that a building’s form should be determined by its content or purpose. There is irony, too, not least for the fact that the timber-clad boxes meet with the broad approval of environmentalists and...

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