By Rem Koolhaas.

Fondazione Prada

Fondazione Prada announced the opening of Torre in April 2018. The new tower marked the completion of the foundation’s Milan venue, designed by Rem Koolhaas, in collaboration with Chris van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli, from architecture firm OMA. They asked SolidNature to  develop the spectacular stones for the building and the elevators. The 60-meters high white, concrete building will become the recognizable landmark for the Fondazione, revealing itself within Milan’s urban skyline.

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Torre is the latest of three new buildings within the architectural compound first unveiled in May 2015. It is the result of the transformation of a distillery dating back to the 1910’s. The  white building has become a recognizable landmark for the Fondazione, revealing itself within Milan’s urban skyline.

Architect Rem Koolhaas: “Torre is the final section of a collection of different exhibition conditions that together define Fondazione Prada. At the base of the tower, a second entrance offers direct access to the tower, its restaurant and roof terrace, the experimental performance space of the Deposito, and to the other parts of the Fondazione.

The Torre exhibition spaces have been conceived to display works and large installations from the Prada Collection, which mostly includes works by 20th and 21st century Italian and international artists. It is set to become a resource of potential perspectives that future projects and new artists will contribute to.

Stretching boundaries

The Torre Fondazione Prada in Milan is an example where all boundaries of natural stones were pushed and their endless possibilities stretched. A good example is the pink elevator SolidNature created with the architects. They developed a peculiar stone, made out of lightweight onyx which were fuse-dyed to the exact color the architect had in mind.

The assignment on the elevator was to create an unreachable unusual effect. From day one they spoke about a unattainable color onyx with backlight for the main elevator to stimulate the overall minimalistic feeling and have a special eye-catcher there.

For the VIP elevator, the idea was to use a special colored green marble or onyx. Although mother nature offers plenty of beautiful stones the end client and architect would not be satisfied with what was being offered because it was not close enough to the brand book colors.

Rem Koolhaas came up with the idea to color the material.

“Although we questioned the effect of painting stone, our research and development team was on top of it.

After many tests on painting stone, we came to the conclusion that it would not be sustainable nor would the stone keep its natural depth. While our team would not rest till they found the right solution, we found a way to inject the stone with the right color.”

 

Onyx & Travertine

Danial Mahyari, founder of and at that time CEO of SolidNature: “We would leave a block of onyx in a bed of fuse dye, to test if it could get through the entire block. After many different experiments on different type of onyx and marble blocks, we where finally able to dye the stone. Not by painting it, but by injecting the color into the stone. This way, we were able to maintain the stone’s depth. The stone will keep its coloring for years, even when in use. We managed to get the perfect red/pink color and the perfect green color. Both elevators, floors, walls and even the ceilings included, where installed fully with the beautiful new developed material.“

For the main areas the request was to create floors from ‘Snow White Travertine’: A very white travertine. The veining on the travertine was important, as was the selection of the blocks. SolidNature has, for this purpose alone, stayed and visited the quarry on a very regular basis to secure the right blocks were chosen.

“I wanted to make sure that I could be in the quarry when fresh new blocks would drop so I could secure the best blocks right away.

This way, we managed to get over 2000 sqm net of the right colored and veined material for the spectacular floors of the Torre, Fondazione Prada,” – Mahyari continued.

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Photography: Courtesy of Fondazione Prada