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MAD Architects’ ‘Invisible Border’ at Milan Design Week alters perception of space

Out There | April 28, 2016 | By:

Photos: Moreno Maggi.
Photos: Moreno Maggi.

Italy’s Interni magazine’s Open Borders exhibition, running through April 23, gathers a series of interactive installations, macro-objects and micro-constructions that explore ways of getting beyond disciplinary borders: According to the magazine, the subject addresses an expansion of design vision to new synergies, to contaminations with different fields of research such as art, cinema and photography; and as the application of architecture and design to evolving sectors like technology and sustainability.

Among the highlights of this year’s exhibition is “Invisible Border,” MAD Architects’ response to the theme: a veil that descends from the top of the eastern side of the Cortile d’Onore at L’Università degli Studi di Milano (Court of Honor at the University of Milan). The installation consists of numerous translucent ETFE strips, produced by P.A.T.I., that alter the perception of space—precisely the distance between the semi-transparent surface and the façade, featuring surfaces in motion. The flowing structure follows no functional logic or form, but seems to be shaped by natural elements like the force of the wind or the flow of water.

“Invisible Border” reflects the hues of the sky during the day, leaving glimpses of the columns and loggia in between its openings; in the evening, the installation becomes a luminous surface that brings the courtyard to life with new colors. “Architects usually creates borders by defining spaces—what is inside and outside, what is nature and the artificial,” MAD Architects founder Ma Yansong tells “But today’s society already has too many invisible borders. As architects, we should instead focus on how can we blur those borders and encourage interaction across them.

“Borders are usually seen as something closed and unapproachable, but I think it’s interesting to make borders attractive, dynamic and engaging,” he says. Our installation blurs the boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary.”

P.A.T.I. S.p.A of San Zenone degli Ezzelini, Italy, specializes in the production of thermoplastic films.

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