Fondazione Prada's 'SPIRITI'

John Hill
6. May 2015
Photo: Screenshot of SPIRITI N.4

The new Fondazione Prade complex designed by OMA - Office of Metropolitan Architecture opens to the public on Saturday. Filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine have documented the project's construction in SPIRITI, a collection of 14 video fragments.

Spring 2015 has been a particularly busy time for architecture and design in Milan: Expo Milano 2015 – "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" – opened a week after the Salone del Mobile; David Chipperfield's Città delle Culture was set to open on 26 April; celebrities flocked to a party in the new Tadao Ando-designed museum for fashion designer Giorgio Armani on his 40th anniversary; and Fondazione Prada's Milan venue designed by OMA's Rem Koolhaas opened.

The last, seven years in the making, is a 19,000 m2 campus dedicated to art that sits in an early 20th-century gin distillery in Largo Isarco, south of the city center. Koolhaas describes the project as "not a preservation project and not a new architecture." It is made up of seven existing buildings and three new structures, the latter consisting of a museum, an auditorium and a ten-story tower (opening at a later date) with permanent exhibition space.

Fondazione Prada commissioned Bêka & Partners (Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine) to document the last month of the project's construction, "in order to render the intangible sense of the spaces and preserve this transitory state of the site, which every day, through the progression of completion, evaporates." Watch the 14 video fragments below or on Fondazione Prada's website.


SPIRITI N. 1:
"Dawn. We tried to catch that fleeting moment which divides night from day. In less than an hour everything changes. The sleeping world awakes. The building site opens its doors. The men slowly amble toward its gates. Movement begins."


SPIRITI N. 2:
"From the noise, dust, sweat and clanging, we tried to extract a moment of stillness and contemplation, to separate the individuals from the building’s site collective anonymity and to preserve the memory of the men behind the work."


SPIRITI N. 3:
"A day of work is ending. Workers have left the ‘Haunted House’ for the day. They leave behind a few remains in the empty rooms. Placed randomly in these void spaces, enfolded by silence, these tools and devices become ready-mades, evoking in us a vision of the near future these rooms will embrace."


SPIRITI N. 4:
"Amid the confusion of a building site where everything is movement and permanent change, striking images sometimes appear for the merest of instants. Extracted from their context, the power of their suggestion grows."


SPIRITI N. 5:
"Lights, rhythm, sequences and scale. The space, coming to life, plays its abstract harmony and sings its own mystery."


SPIRITI N. 6:
"Despite all the prosthesis men have invented to be stronger, to dig deeper, to go higher, to go further its own limits, the smallest denominator and the most indispensable tool remains the hand on which everything holds."


SPIRITI N. 7:
"In the darkness of the future cinema hall, a welder is at work. The flickering lightning foreshadows the fragile magic of image which will illuminate the space in a few weeks. A vision of the archaic origins of cinema..."


SPIRITI N. 8:
"In the microcosm of a building site where everything is action and gesture, through an attentive observation one can perceive the single act as a movement within a collective symphony."


SPIRITI N. 9:
"Deserted and silent during the workers' lunch break, the site is resting. A rare moment in the frantic speed of the last days of works before the opening."


SPIRITI N. 10:
"Crossing a corridor of light, silhouettes transform scaffolding into a cathedral of metal."


SPIRITI N. 11:
"The unfinished space already exhibits a strange temporal dialogue between the statues’ spectral silhouettes, fixed in their ancient immobility, and the bustle of the moving bodies."


SPIRITI N. 12:
"When architecture plays to be a stage set, Jacques Tati is never that faraway..."


SPIRITI N. 13:
"Wandering through his memories, the ex-owner takes us in his old house. After having been a distillery, the site became an important freight depot linked to the railways just behind. The future museum listens to its past."


SPIRITI N. 14:
"Gold dust of the last brushstrokes on the ‘Haunted House’."

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