When Milan’s manufacturing plants began to shut down in the 1970s and ’80s, the city found itself facing a social crisis that was also, to some extent, a crisis of identity—this was a place that had always defined itself through work. But lately, those empty factories and warehouses have become an essential factor in a new cultural renaissance—leading also to the opening up of outlying suburbs that were previously terra incognita for the creative crowd. Flag carrier for this turnaround is the Fondazione Prada’s new Milan headquarters in the southeastern suburb Piazzale Isarco, a 10-minute walk from Piazzale Lodi metro station. Miuccia Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, have long been involved with art both as collectors and promoters, bringing shows by artists such as Laurie Anderson, Steve McQueen, and John Baldessari to Milan and commissioning special projects. The Fondazione’s first permanent base was a historic Grand Canal palazzo in Venice, inaugurated during the 2011 Art Biennale. The new mothership is situated in a former gin distillery complex that dates back to the first years of the 20th century.
The ambitious project by Rem Koolhaas and Chris van Duijn of OMA involved the conversion of the plant’s seven existing buildings and the construction of three more, including a soon-to-open asymmetrical tower destined to house the permanent collection. Thanks to head curator Astrid Welter’s imaginative programming—the sold-out Alejandro G. Iñárritu VR installation Carne y Arena, which runs through Jan. 2018, is just one of many highlights—the entire venue is a must-visit. But little details also help, like the Bar Luce, a tongue-in-cheek homage by film director Wes Anderson to classic Italian small-town bars, complete with pinball machines and gourmet panini.
Source: Surface Magazine