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Teaching design at the LSA — Maria-Chiara Piccinelli and Maurizio Mucciola

We spoke to the Design Tutors delivering our programme at the LSA and asked about their design methodology and ethos as professional designers and architects. Maria-Chiara Piccinelli and Maurizio Mucciola are co-founders of PiM.Studio. Maria-Chiara is a First Year Design Tutor and the LSA and Maurizio Mucciola leads the Design Think Tank ‘Nature and Rewilding’. Here’s what they had to say.

Maurizio (left) and Maria (right) in the PiM.Studio office.

Design is about finding the right solution for each project, no two projects are same; therefore, no two answers can be the same. We never work with predetermined solutions for a project: each time we start fresh, investigating the problem and designing as many iterations as we can think of, until we find the solution, we feel is the right answer. This may seem an inefficient design process, and it is. But design is not about being efficient, it is about finding the best answer to each project. We approach big and small projects with the same passion; every project is alive with possibility. We work closely with our clients at every stage, from that initial conversation, through construction and beyond. In every case, we find the best answer to the very specific question that the client and the site present us with. And then we go one step further to include something fresh and unexpected.

 

 

 

Project 1 — Patio house

Geneva (currently on site)

The house is designed around a central open patio as a natural element generating the entire design. From each room, there is a view to the patio on one side and to the garden on the other side, so that each interior space faces on two sides natural spaces of different scaler and characters. The building is slightly raised off the ground, to create a space under the house that will allow continuity for the nature to grow around and under the house and so the building doesn’t act as a barrier.

We want to connect with nature not just in the morphology of the architecture, but also with the use of local and natural materials: we’re using bricks that are made of soil from the site, and we will paint the walls with clay that will naturally control the humidity inside the house. The green roof will increase the architecture biodiversity and donate a soft view from the bedroom’s windows on the first floor. Again, the green roof is an essential moment of exchange between nature and architecture, allowing green as bees and butterflies to find the right environment for them. By creating in-between spaces that expand the inside/outside boundary concept, we are able to meet the needs of the family as well as the other living beings. The house seats happily in its site also with the introduction of a natural pond and a wild garden.

 

Project 2 — A Second Life

An exhibition designed by PIM.studio for matter of stuff at sketch during London Design Festival 2019.

 

Sketch, London Design Festival, 2019
Second Life at the London Design Festival, 2019.

 

We, and other designers transformed hundreds of wooden dowels used for the scenography of Matter of Stuff’s 2018 LDF exhibition into an array of experimental new works. Instead of recycling the dowels through mulching, the gallery asked the designers to reinterpret, explore and experiment with the material to create new designs while maintaining some of the structural integrity of the original installation. The result is a resolute and ongoing statement about the infinite possibilities of sustainable design, upcycling and waste avoidance. Imagining a dynamic, new spatial experience within the sketch entrance, we have used the pine dowels to create new elegant temporary walls.

 

Project 3 — Sevenoaks Visitor Centre

Kent, 2017 competition submission

 

 

Multi Species architecture: Our proposal for the new Visitor Centre building aims at creating harmony with the surrounding nature in a two ways integration. On one hand, the building engages with the surrounding space by opening itself toward the outside, the lake and the nature, through a large outdoor Lake Terrace and an outdoor studio to the north.

On the other, we seek to integrate the Nature into the building by maximising opportunities for the Reserve’s flora and fauna to ‘use’ the building as part of the natural environment. By designing different typologies of interstitial spaces all around the building skin, including on the roof, the external facades and under the building, we encourage small animals such as birds, bats and other to make the building as their home. Similarly, the roof design naturally encourages the growth of moss on its surface and this will contribute to create a building which also acts as an ecosystem.