Prof. Gianni Ottolini




The School of Architecture of the Politecnico di Milano, whose

past lecturers include Giò Ponti, Franco Albini, Carlo De Carli and

Vittoriano Viganò, has always stood out, at both national and

international level, for its studies on living space, underpinned by

a careful evaluation of interiors and by an awareness of the key

role played by furniture within the complex system of relationships

established with those who inhabit their spaces. The research focus

is both on private and public space, with particular attention being

paid, in recent times, to the organisation of space for social, cultural

and communication purposes: museums, exhibitions, theatres,

urban interior spaces etc. The Milan School of Architecture draws

on the city’s highly productive and specialised background and on

the strong commercial and entrepreneurial spirit that lies at the

heart of several important events, first and foremost the Salone

Internazionale del Mobile which, every year, brings Milan into the

international spotlight, than La Triennale di Milano, one of the most

important Italian institution devoted to promote design culture.

The Doctorate in Interior Architecture and Design was established

twenty years ago with the aim of providing students with a

culturally qualified and critically based education. Throughout

its activity, it has trained more than one hundred researchers

and around half of them are currently teaching in national and

international universities.

Aims of the course

- Improving the ability to plan, manage and coordinate research

programs; collecting and elaborating historical documentary

materials, as well as producing documents on interior design

(architecture, furnishing, decoration, stage-designing, exhibit design

fitting, museography, furniture production);

- Improving the knowledge of how to plan, develop, technically

implement, troubleshoot and manage complex interior design


Topics and research issues faced during the course

In addition to the development of a specific individual curriculum,

doctoral candidates will deal with several subject-related issues

concerning Interior Architecture and Design in analytic and planning

suitable scales and in different areas:

- Theory and history: basic principles of architecture and interior

design; evolution of content, methodologies and planning concepts

in different ages and cultural realities, with a particular examination

of actual architectural and industrial design


- Housing models: history, new trends and

future orders of housing (private and common

dwellings; public, company and autonomous

working precincts; cultural, social, health,

sports and leisure services and facilities, open

urban area services and structures) in relation

to social, economic and cultural developments,

technological and informational innovation and

formal and aesthetic issues;

- Architectural space: structure, composition and

quality of urban and building interior space, its

connection with the context and its organization;

nature and features of sheath and space fitting,

and their connections;

- Environment: features, methods and tools for

planning, simulation and monitoring of microclimate

and environmental comfort; study of

aerodynamic, material, ergonomic, energy and

lighting aspects;

- Furnishing elements: typology, morphology,


- spatial, material, chromatic, tactile and

ergonomic value of furnishings and objects;

analysis of their connections and relationships

with space and surfaces.


Luca Basso Peressut Gianni Ottolini

Gianpiero Bosoni Silvia Piardi

Pier Federico Caliari Gennaro Postiglione

Luciano Crespi Roberto Rizzi

Roberto Dulio Pierluigi Salvadeo

Giuseppe Finessi Francesco Scullica

Immacolata Forino Michele Ugolini

Molon Marina

Qualifying elements of the curriculum

Customised teaching methods aimed at

developing each student’s specific aptitudes in

different areas of design, theoretical and critical

historical research;

- Analysis of complex paradigms and

development of split up methodologies of

intervention with interdisciplinary integrations

for proposing, design, theoretical and critical

historical research purposes;

- Creation of virtual and classic simulation tools

for the control of figurative, material, metric,

chromatic, energy and light properties.

Study methods

- Lectures, training sessions, guided tours and

seminar cycles given by teachers of the College

and by visiting Professors;

- Workshop research in fields such as critical

history and design, carried out through teaching,

cooperation activities and horizontal and vertical

exchange between students of different cycles;

- Seminar activities and individual stages/

internships particularly important for enhancing

the students’ curriculum;

- Individual research aided by tutors with the

contribution of the entire teaching staff.


Lucio Altarelli Università di Roma La Sapienza Anna Marie Fisker Aalborg University

Agostino Bossi Università Federico II Napoli Christoph Grafe TU Delft

Daniel Cid Moragas Scuola Elisava Barcellona Marco Vaudetti Politecnico di Torino





Art, urban project and collective identity

viviana Saitto

How can a piece of art be

considered a key element in the

requalification of spaces, and

how can its being displayed in a

public place represent a form of

interior design?

The term Public Art refers to

all artistic projects located in

public spaces, beyond the walls

of museums, galleries and

other locations that have been

traditionally assigned the role

of art containers. In moving

out of the museum, art has

been turned from an exhibitive

object into a vehicle for the

requalification of urban spaces,

performing an active role in the

social and cultural dynamics of

the places in which it is situated.

This is how art comes face to

face with daily life, involving

the observer, occupying everyday

locations and transforming

squares, streets, viaducts, parks

and tube stations into new

exhibition centres.

The input of this thesis was the

observation of a strong and

characterizing presence of artistic

interventions in urban spaces

and their capacity to subvert

the usual role of the artifact,

enabling it to acquire a use.

The city is increasingly the

subject of the modern and

artistic debate and art,

having renewed its function

and content, interacts ever

more often with the existing,

critically overlapping itself with

architecture and the urban

fabric. It intervenes in these

spaces while interpreting them

and modifies their fruition, use

and perception. Arte Pubblica

can express the need for a

direct community and, by

losing its «aurea» to cite Walter

Benjamin, become an integral

part of a place, and often

the place itself, contributing

to the reconstruction of a

common cultural heritage. Arte

Pubblica is conceived today as a

platform for collective acts and

sociality, an «artificial place»,

quoting again the words of

Christian Norberg-Schulz, not

intended as a direct outcome

of the natural space but rather

as an increasing awareness,

fostered by a deeper knowledge

of the environment from which

men feel the need to defend

themselves. It is an «artistic

fence», an internal space, a

urban domain imbued with

meaning – to be understood

as the link that an object is

able to establish with others

–, characterized by a structure

– formal property of a system

of relationships – and by a

«figural quality». Art, designed

specifically on the citizens and

their needs, surrounds and

welcomes the community,

offering a variety of solutions

able to requalify urban space,

catching its peculiarities and

spirit and highlighting its

complexity. It has the ability

to «gather» and outline an

«inhabited landscape» natural,

public and collective at once,

through which improving daily


The crux of the thesis is thus

to investigate on the means by

which cities are today preparing

themselves to welcome and

display works of art, but above

all, on the ability that these

artworks have to influence

the historical fabric of a city

and of its most deteriorated

areas, resulting in their

eventual requalification. The

research has not emerged from

questioning the contemporary

condition of art, although this

does constitute a fundamental

aspect in understanding

modern tendencies. Instead, it

is structured with the intention

to investigate how, in renewed

dialogue with architecture, art

is no longer considered a simple

exhibitive object, but a vehicle

for transforming the space in

which it is located.

Particular attention has been

paid to the Italian case. Starting

with the changing definition of

the concept of Arte Pubblica, it

analyses emblematic case-studies

in which, through the close

cooperation of architects, artists,

curators and dazzling people and

followers, art has transcended

the role of a decorative element

to become a key-factor of urban

renovation and environmental

improvement, able to convert

open spaces in places of

1. mimmo Paladino, Aqueduct. Alto

Calore, Solopaca 2010.

Photographer Giovanni Fabbrocino.

collective living.

The main critical issues are: why

art is getting more and more

involved in urban change? What

is its role and what surplus value

does it offer to the design of

a public space? What is the

function of the designer in this

kind of projects? What is the real

potential of these experiences

and how do they affect public


The essay is structured in three

parts, organized in seven

chapters overall. The first and the

second parts are reserved to the

deepening of the main concepts

on which Arte Pubblica is based,

while the third one is focused on

the production, the laws and the

contemporary art system in Italy.

The focus on Italy, and in

particular on the cities of Naples

and Turin, allowed a handson

experience of the artworks

analyzed and to get in touch

2. Per Kirkeby, Opera per Torino,

Turin 2005.

Photographer Giovanni Fabbrocino.

with the persons who designed

and realized them. The study

furthermore considered the

reference context and the

existing relationship between

public and private institutions

involved in programmes for the

diffusion of modern art.

From the nineties, although

private structures had started

to promote modern artists in

the territory, the municipal

administrations took the

opportunity to start a dialogue

with the art system in order to

recover the spaces’ identities

with ambitious and complex

projects. We are not simply

taking about temporary events

and installations – promoted

by museums present in the

two cities – but important

infrastructural programmes

capable of giving identity

back to the existing in an

unpublished agreement with

art. The result was a broadbased

cultural project which had

important repercussions from an

architectural and urban planning

point of view, recovering areas

of the city that were lacking

in vitality and often either

uninhabitable or abandoned to

degradation, capable of giving

new meanings to these spaces

without erasing their memories.

It is not possible to consider

Arte Pubblica as a practice

able to solve the crisis of

the public space and the

implications this has on the

contemporary living. Equally, it

is not possible to believe that

banally investing urban project

with an artistic aura could

provide a higher quality to the

space. Aware that a change in a

landscape and in its value can

not solely depend on artistic

initiatives, similar projects are

opportunities for working on

the existing and enhancing

it, «[...] levers of political

consensus» as well as tools

for a comparison with shared

meanings assigned to the built

environment, to the ways of

inhabiting and using materially

and immaterially the city.



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