An Espresso with Peia

Giampiero Peia from Peia Associati

1) What is the "mission" of an architect?

Combining answers and solutions derived from needs with intentional aesthetics. In a few words: to tell a story and use specific techniques and technologies to tell this story as well as satisfying the bodies and minds of the visitors, the users of the artifacts that we create. Right now the primary need is to avoid the waste of space, resources and energy. So the mission is to use these limits to turn them instead into strengths. The architect is not an artist, as Richard Serra clearly said to Frank Gehry, even when they shape space with sculptural volumes and uses special algorithms to make them consistent. The mission is our "job" that, if anything, is similar to the work of composition and coordination performed by a conductor or a film director, with similar conditions and prospects.

2) The construction of the Coca Cola pavilion for EXPO 2015 is definitely an architectural and sustainability challenge. What do you feel is the characteristic that distinguishes it?

It is a simple building that responds to two basic principles: to be expressive with minimal expression and ensure a second life. The first goal will be achieved by the use of a dynamic material; the water moving along with wood and glass walls will create spectacular light, sound and well-being for the visitors. The second life is an equally important goal that drove the project from the beginning, along with the choice of “natural” materials and methods of climate control, which are already highly ecological and environmentally friendly. It seems strange that a multinational company has shared this natural and spontaneous desire to regenerate the building after Expo, and not other pavilions including those by public institutions, at least officially, or with the specific agenda as in the case of the Coca Cola pavilion. At the end of Expo, the structure of the pavilion will be donated to the City of Milan to cover a public sports ground - an indoor basketball court for the citizens of Milan - as a means of thanking the place and the community that will have created EXPO. A strong and clear message to educate on how to avoid waste.

Photo Credit: Beppe Raso

3) In recent years you have exported your architecture and Italian design. Is working abroad an opportunity or a necessity for Italian architects?

The site and the customer are always evolved and never predetermined strategies. Fifteen years ago, our first job in Qatar opened up roads in the Middle East, then China, India and Africa. Now for young people, getting out is a chance to develop more research or interesting work, when it is not about survival. For us it is still an interesting experience for the cultural and creative stimuli, for the different ways of thinking of the customer and their specific needs. Having to work with Feng Shui in China or Vastu in India, or know the customs of Muslim culture and religion, to draw contemporary buildings for institutions or private individuals has generated knowledge and thus innovation, not just in upgrading or re-interpreting traditions and customs.

4) What can’t you live without in an architectural office?

It’s a common tool, but always full of charm for me: a large HD projector in the meeting room. It is not so trivial. It is the moment when the images are gigantic (5-6 meters wide for us) that they are finally shared by the whole team and are released, rather than in the press, from the edge of the monitors and normal devices on which you work, almost always individually. They transform a white wall with large images and strengthen the link between architecture and cinema. I love the projectors, which we use a lot in architecture; if they’re not there, a normal screen, however great, would not be enough.

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