Trying to find a balance between technical precision and integration with the environment and landscape has been a well cultivated habit of Matteo Thun & Partners, which is an architecture, interior design and product design practice, based in Milan, Italy. The firm is involved in both small and large scale projects scattered all across the globe.
The multidisciplinary team is composed of about 50 professionals including architects, interior and product designers and is managed by the owner Matteo Thun and his partners Luca Colombo, Herbert Rathmaier and Antonio Rodriguez.
Founded in 2001 by the homonymous architect, Matteo Thun, the firm’s approach has always been inclusive and holistic and aided by an integrated workflow.
Having recently finished work on the renowned Camping Marina di Venezia, located close to Venice, the major goal of all their projects is the conception of long-lasting solutions arrived at by a keen respect shown to the Genius Loci, a Zero-Design attitude based on simplicity, archetypes and the philosophy of “3 Zeros” – Zero CO2, Zero kilometres and Zero waste.
We present here some gems garnered during an online interview with Matteo Thun. During which, we discuss with him amongst several other things a learning curve that he might have endured and his dream project.
How would you classify the architecture you practice?
Our company Matteo Thun & Partners has a 50-strong team working internationally on architectural, interior and product design projects. Our work focuses on sustainability and environment. We want to create long lasting solutions with a holistic approach. Projects and objects should grow old nicely and respect our philosophy of the three Zeros: Zero C02 (C02 neutral energy production and construction, Zero KM (Reduced transport miles through prefabrication and local materials, Zero Waste (recycling of used materials).
Which buildings (from all over the world), do you admire or get inspired by?
Thanks to the influence of high-mountain farmers, building traditions calling for wood are undergoing a revival. “Less is more” has been the guideline of the high-mountain crafts culture for centuries, evolving even further today to embrace sustainability and “kilometre zero” philosophies.
The simple and efficient reduction of energy requirements calls for a systematic microclimatic analysis (seasonal changes, south-east and south-west exposure, daytime and night-time winds) that enables energy consumption to be minimised: this is the primary planning responsibility. Applying the provisions necessary for low consumption architecture is a constant approach to traditions to be interpreted with modern means.
Urban highlights are the Torre Velasca in Milan, the Kolumba Museum by Peter Zumthor in Cologne and the CCTV in Peking by Rem Koolhaas – to name a few.
What is the one thing you would like to change about architecture practice in general, keeping an eye of course on the urgent need to preserve the environment?
For us architecture means designing the soul of the place. This implies an aesthetic, economic and technological sustainability. It means to create a synthesis of the existing, the purpose and the area. In order to realise this as best as possible our focus is to realise all segments: masterplans, architecture, interior and furniture designs. Concepts would be more in harmony if this could be realised within each project.
Share with us any learning curve that you might have endured in any of your projects by using materials or techniques that fall outside of the ones specified in manuals.
Architecture has a teacher, the Genius Loci. It tells us how to draw a project that respects culture and nature in a territory where we are called to build. Listening to the Genius Loci, our ideas adapt to history and geography. Hence, architecture emerges that makes the most of local traditions and new technologies in order to create sustainable solutions, save resources, generate measurable economic results, while contributing to beauty.
Do you follow a self cultivated style or do you innovate in response to every new project?
Every new project needs an individual approach. For me the ‘Six Memos’ of Italo Calvino reflect the world of architecture: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency.
Your dream project: is it in the past or is it yet to be realised?
My dream project is yet to be realised: a temple at the source of the Ganges river in India…