Architype Dialogue presents

Diego Quadrelli

What was the most difficult issue about working on a building that focuses on religion, or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?

The real challenge for us was to built a Chapel able to mix the Italian style with the Central Africa culture, but from a religious point of view.  Gabon has a strong catholic culture, we needed to read this situation and to convert it in a public building surrounded by nature.  A building able to create a balance between forest and God.  The Chapel was done in Italy and delivered to Libreville with two containers.  All the pieces made a trip of 40 days.  It was like if we bought a huge Lego box and we sent it really far away.  The only differences was given by the religious situation.

Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?

The Chapel’s project gave us the possibility to explain the new role that our office can play in Italian field. We are not anymore just architects.  I think that it’s easier to define us as project manager.  In the project of the Chapel we did the measurement, the design, the structure calculation, the lights design, the coordination of shipment, the coordination of fixing test in Italy, the site coordination, the public relation with client and locals and so on.  This cannot be the normal life of a normal architect…

How is your design aesthetic possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?

Our design is just inspired from elegance.  We don’t need to find new way to produce something that wasn’t done before.  We are not looking to be new or modern, we just want to produce something that has a good balance between taste and elegance.  Technology, society or persons are just the world that surrounding us, they are just the white paper where we need to draw.  Technology, society or persons are just the reality, we don’t need to search it, we just need to open the eyes and look for it.  We are young and smart, we are not the old dinosaur’s office that needs to run back the innovations, we are the innovations.

In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?

Italian university, from an architectural point of view, is probably one of the worst system of Occidental World, it’s old, boring and absolutely not close to the real world.  It’s so linked to the XX century that it is not able to teach to young generations.  Due to this I cannot consider academic curricula’s trends as part of our design process or as part of the inspiration method that we are using.  The project of the Chapel is not for sure one of the best project of the world, but nevertheless it’s able to treat the architecture in a different way, so far away from the academic system and from the normal working life.  We did a project in Africa, completely produced in Italy, shipped with Dutch vessel, fixed on site by a team of Italian/Romanian/Bulgarian guys and inaugurating by a French/Gabonese Bishop.  All this system was managed by our architectural office of thirties…

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