Open Project is a design factory where the well-being of places and men is brought to the center. In fact, through its projects, the Open Project team draws lines of connection between environments and human beings. Thus conceived, the spaces become places of exchange, experience and knowledge. If, on the one hand, the creative network of the studio looks towards the future, on the other, the regeneration of what already exists is an equally important theme. If these two premises may seem contradictory, they are actually the two sides of a coin, that of an innovation that does not forget its heritage. We talked about it with Maurizio Piolanti and Francesco Conserva, respectively President and Vice-president at Open Project.
What is the story of Open Project? What are the keywords that define it?
Open Project is an architecture and engineering company founded in the eighties of the last century that, since then, has never stopped evolving. As it stands today, the studio condenses its approach in the payoff: “we imagine, we design, we create”. This brief phrase represents and summarizes our work. In fact, the starting point of our projects is the concept – “we imagine” – followed by the development and design part – “we design – and complemented by the construction phase until the accomplishment of the work – “we create”.
This approach represents us in terms of method. Indeed, as a studio, we are organized on these three macro sectors: an architecture segment that develops the concepts and the feasibility of the projects, a technical development segment, and an executive sector that deals with the direction of the works on the construction site.
What narration do your projects represent?
Our way of doing architecture reflects a choral vision. In fact, Open Project is not an authorial studio characterized by a single specific imprint. Over the years we have structured a work method that allows everyone to express their creativity. Our values are interrelated to current issues, about which we have been forerunners in many aspects. In fact, we were among the first to apply BIM technology in architecture and to certify in terms of sustainability chief projects such as the one of the Unipol tower in Bologna. This latter in particular has been LEED certified for ten years now.
Our focus on sustainability issues is part of a holistic and comprehensive approach. We aim to create projects in which the functional and budgetary aspects are integrated with the themes of sustainability and high technology. In this we can define ourselves as craftsmen. The dimension of our studio – about fifty people – allows us to maintain an overall supervision from the beginning to the end of the projects, to give answers in a short time and to have a truly customized result.
What aspects should be preserved with regard to the issue of urban areas' regeneration?
On the subject of urban regeneration, I would like to cite as an example two urban spaces we have recently worked on. For the municipality of Modena we designed a public park in a suburban area of the city that needed a novel identity. We worked together with an agronomist expert and with a landscape architect so that the park could cover different functions starting from a multi-generational reception. Furthermore, we wanted it to be a valuable and functional space throughout all the months of the year.
Dissimilarly, for the municipality of San Lazzaro we designed the main square, which has been completely revised by us on the basis of a concept of openness. We wanted the square “to breathe”. In fact, the project is called Respiro – “Breath”– and its objective was to eliminate those anthropomorphic elements that had sealed the square over time. We have thus given the place a new urban aspect through the use of materials that allow water to penetrate inside the soil. Creating spaces that are adapted to climate change and focused on people’s livability is, in the final analysis, one of our primary purposes. The product of our work is never an end in itself, but rather a place where people can live according to their specific needs.
At the moment we are taking care of a number of regenerations of no longer used areas where, when possible, we try to enhance the existing heritage. Sustainability issues inevitably lead us to research and reuse of built areas. The research that we are carrying out in this field has shown us how important the carbon footprint of buildings is and how much savings and benefits the salvage of buildings bring in this regard.