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Exploration and Production Business Center

A Sustainable Dance

Morphosis | Nemesi Architects

Exploration and Production Business Center
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -
Metra, Mapei, AGC Flat Glass, Marazzi, Polyglass have participated in the project

It all comes down to a name. When Thom Mayne – subsequently winner of the 2005 Pritzker Prize – established his practice in 1972, choosing the name Morphosis Architects, he drafted a manifesto, a program he has stuck to and refreshed for over 50 years. Over time, his forms have undergone changes, volumes have been transformed, surfaces and the way they overlap have been remodeled, and three-dimensional planes have taken on new shapes. But each and every development has always formed an expressive element, part of the logical syntax of a design whose research is always rooted in the natural – and unnatural – modifications of the land, in other words, the context in question. It is an approach adopted several decades before Land Urbanism and only a few years after the seminal architectural theories, at least for us Europeans, of the writings of Aldo Rossi and Vittorio Gregotti, both published in 1966.

For Mayne, innovative buildings spring from separating out – not de-composing as the Deconstructivists were to do – and then innovatively combining the interconnecting parts and stratifying the building materials. Looking more closely, it also becomes abundantly clear that both the elements forming the logic behind Mayne’s obstinately con-textual architecture, as well as the intangible factors defining all projects by this Californian firm can be read as a continuous exercise in pushing back the boundaries of the very concept of urbanism to deliver civic programs in the nobliest sense of the term. Examples are the central yet permeable role of the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in Los Angeles (2005), and the diaphanous yet striking urban portal that is University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Housing building (2000).

This is Morphosis Architects’ second project in Italy – the first was the elegant former Hypo-Alpe Adria Bank in Tavagnacco, Udine, in 2006. Once again, the firm has shown...

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