Jupiter

Project

The Jupiter project was born from a few simple and utopian suggestive questions: what would it be like to live on the planet of Jupiter? How can humans create architecture and a habitable environment in a non- solid but gaseous atmosphere?

In the last few years, NASA’s space probe Juno has published a series of evocative images that reveal the superficial mass of planet Jupiter in an unprecedented and almost pictorial way. These illustrations unearthed various sensations, including curiosity. How could we inhabit this planet which, unlike the earth, does not present an immediate solid surface but rather a deep gaseous mass? Can man manage to live in such a dimension? We tried to answer these questions through the tool we have: Architecture. Therefore these faraway suggestions were used as preconditions for responding to the theme of this interior design studio, a contemporary art gallery in Milan, exploring a new way of making architecture by pretending to be on Jupiter.

To make this possible, we decided to give a structural form to this gas giant. It is divided into three macro parts which are: atmosphere, hydrogen and the solid core. Since the latter is proportionally much smaller than the first, we used it just as a strong basis to raise up our structural and modular steel mesh, a spatial group of elements inspired by the wooden structures of Kengo Kuma, that provides a sort of artificial gravity and solid surface acting against the gaseous deep layer of hydrogen and the chaotic cloud-made atmosphere. This allowed us to support a series of basic prisms and elemental solids that represent the human experience within the planet. The result of this dualism is a combination of volumes that seem to float in the entire gas mass of the planet in which they are immersed, similar to one of our main sources of inspiration, the drawings of the utopist Yona Friedman.

Overall, the building can be read following a tripartition: the base which is enclosed in a 0.5 m mesh, where the functions of ticketing and offices are located, the central part scanned by a mesh of 1 m and finally the rooftop with a mesh that starts from 2 m and then grows to 4 m. The gallery’s exhibition rooms are located in the last two parts. The building is completed by a basement that houses the functions of: library, bar, bathrooms and technical room.

The result of this design process is an earthly and tangibile art gallery, that escapes the conventional ways to conceive an architectural place with a view to explore a new spatial identity.

Interview

What inspired you to speculate on Jupiter in reference to the space of the gallery?

After we were given an art gallery as the project theme, we immediately started thinking about a strong concept from which to start. While surfing the web we came across some images published by NASA, taken by the space probe Juno, which portray the planet as if it were a painting. Hence the idea of making Jupiter our concept, trying to transform its mass into architecture and using the theme of space in the choice of the artists that we would then insert inside the gallery.

What drew you to references as those of Yona Friedman and Kengo Kuma?

We were fascinated by Kengo Kuma’s large wooden structures inspired by the Cidori system, an old Japanese toy. This type of open-air structure, was meant to represent the hydrogen that makes up 90% of the planet, so it lent itself very well as the envelope of the project. From Friedman we took up his concept of “Spatial City”. The utopist idealizes these bridge cities that rise from existing cities and appear as suspended volumes. These volumes are those that we have decided to adopt as gallery rooms and in a more figurative / utopian language “the man who manages to arrive on Jupiter”.

To what extent do you trust in architecture as a continuum which is continuously referencing the past?

We believe that the link with the past is very strong and always present. The world of architecture is in a continuous evolution of ideas, forms and materials, but all can be traced back to a thought elaborated by one of our predecessors. It is ancient knowledge adapted to a new context. We can speak of durability of architecture in the various years and eras but without losing sight of the theme of current events; that would be a serious mistake on the part of a modern architect.

What defined the scale of the 'intervention'?

With regard to the design scale, on the one hand we had to adapt to specific project requirements, including that of giving a tripartion to the building, and on the other were strongly linked to the idea of the concept. The building can be read following a tripartition: the base which is enclosed in a 0.5 m mesh,
where the functions of ticketing and offices are located, the central part scanned by a mesh of 1 m and finally the rooftop with a mesh that starts from 2 m and then grows to 4 m. The idea of having these volumes suspended within a structure, has led us to the construction of a building that stands out from its context both in terms of size and in its image.

What prompted the different drawings through which you choose to reveal the project?

We have always thought in the development phase, that the graphics, given the unusual and particular entity of the project, should be more visible rather than represented in the standard architectural patterns. In this regard we decided to experiment a lot during the intermediate phases, defining in the final phase an approach that could make the perception of the project as immersive as possible. The priority being the clear spatial perception that the complex volumes create, thus emphasizing depth, lights, materials, and everything that could help us render on paper the psychological sensations we had within us for a long time to envision and then design the intervention.

What role do probes as the train and silhouettes hold?

These elements were included in the drawings in order to create a sort of narrative that left a kind of open ended question to those who looked at them. In fact, we believe it is essential that drawings do not remain closed in themselves and final but that they instil in the observer a sort of free interpretation. The spaceships, the train, as well as the people, are therefore the result of a very subjective vision of the architectural experience of the place, that each of us can have after observing them. Looking at the train you can in fact make a digression of where it leads, what technologies it uses, what difference there is with a normal train. Looking at people, one can ask what relationship there is between such everyday shapes and the extraordinary reality of Jupiter and so on. Each of us can draw from these questions quite different answers, which go beyond the mere understanding of the architectural phenomenon in itself, giving the project a type of narrative.

How important was the drawing as mean to test and develop the project?

In developing and testing the project, the design was fundamental for us. The path was a continuous transition from free hand-sketch to three-dimensional drawing to the PC, to verify and retrieve the initial idea that we had developed on paper. It was our intent to give not only a strong aesthetic impact to the gallery, but also to make sure that, despite its complex spatial articulation, it could really work. In this sense, having the possibility to elaborate on the computer the structural mesh and the various volumes suspended therein, verifying the actual relationship between them and the spatiality within them, was certainly helpful.

If you were to represent the project with one medium/image - what would this be?

In our opinion the poster is the image that best represents and above all synthesizes our project and ideas. In this, all the elements that allows the viewer to capture the theme and progect essence are present. In addition, it leaves the viewer with a certain degree of curiosity and queries.
architectural experience of the place, that each of us can have after observing them. Looking at the train you can in fact make a digression of where it leads, what technologies it uses, what difference there is with a normal train. Looking at people, one can ask what relationship there is between such everyday shapes and the extraordinary reality of Jupiter and so on. Each of us can draw from these questions quite different answers, which go beyond the mere understanding of the architectural phenomenon in itself, giving the project a type of narrative.

How important was the drawing as mean to test and develop the project?

In developing and testing the project, the design was fundamental for us. The path was a continuous transition from free hand-sketch to three-dimensional drawing to the PC, to verify and retrieve the initial idea that we had developed on paper. It was our intent to give not only a strong aesthetic impact to the gallery, but also to make sure that, despite its complex spatial articulation, it could really work. In this sense, having the possibility to elaborate on the computer the structural mesh and the various volumes suspended therein, verifying the actual relationship between them and the spatiality within them, was certainly helpful.

If you were to represent the project with one medium/image - what would this be?

In our opinion the poster is the image that best represents and above all synthesizes our project and ideas. In this, all the elements that allows the viewer to capture the theme and progect essence are present. In addition, it leaves the viewer with a certain degree of curiosity and queries.

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