Portfolio - Italian Area


Portfolio - Italian Area
[email protected]
M + 39 338 1404445
Matilde Cassani moves on the border between architecture,
installation and design. ​Her research b
​ ased practice reflects
the spatial implications of cultural pluralism in the contemporary
Western context. Her works have been showcased in many
cultural institutions, galleries and published in several
magazines such as Architectural Review, Domus, Abitare, Arqa,
Arkitecktur, MONU magazine on Urbanism.
She has been a resident fellow at “Akademie Schloss Solitude”
in Stuttgart and at the “Headlands Center for the Arts” in San
Francisco. Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York
hosted her exhibition “Sacred Spaces in Profane Buildings” in
September 2011. She moreover designed the National Pavilion
of The Kingdom of Bahrain at the XIII Venice Architecture
Biennale in 2012 and she took part of the XIV Venice
Architecture Biennale (Monditalia) with the piece “Countryside
worship”, recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum
in London.
She has taken part in many international conferences and
lectured in various international Universities such as Columbia
University in New York and E​cole Speciale d’Architecture in
Paris. She currently teaches at Politecnico di Milano, at Domus
Academy, and NABA.
2016: After Belonging, OAT, Oslo Architecture Triennale,
curated by Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco, Ignacio
G. Galán, Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, Alejandra Navarrete
Llopis and Marina Otero Verzier
Riviera, Swiss Institute, Milano. http://www.
rivierabookshop.com. Curated by Caterina Riva, Dallas,
Salvatore Lacagnina.
Taking care, XV Biennale di Venezia, curated by
2015: The Man who sat on himself, curated by Szuzanna
Staniz, Angelica Sule, Kate Strain at Fondazione Sandretto
Re Rebaudengo
2014: Monditalia, IV Biennale di Venezia, Arsenale, Venice,
curated by Rem Kolhaas.
Hidden cities, SomARTS Gallery, San Francisco, curated
by Pireeeni Sundaralingam.
2013: Design, La Sindrome dell’ Influenza, curated by
Pierluigi Nicolin, La Triennale di Milano.
2012: XII Venice Architecture Biennale, National
Participation, Kingdom of Bahrein, exhibition design with
Francesco Librizzi and Stefano Tropea, curated by Noura
The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers, curated by Jocken
Becker, Stephan Lanz, The Global Prayers Theme Days at
the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
Staten Island Second Saturdays Art Walk, curated by
Monica Venenzuela, New York, USA, February.
Kunshaus Langenthal, Hier Beginnt die Welt, AugustNovember 2012, Langenthal.
2011: “Even covering of the field”, FFAR, Forum fur
Arkitektur, Stockholm, Sweden.
Sacred spaces in profane buildings, Storefront for art and
architecture, New York.
Barcelona, Spain.
Stazione futuro: qui si rifà l’ Italia, Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Torino,
curated by Luca Molinari.
2001-2002: Erasmus exchange programme at Faculty of
Architecture, Universitade Tecnica de Lisboa (UTL),
Lisboa, Portugal.
Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany. Curated by Jean
Baptiste Joly.
2010: Bat Yam Biennale of Landscape urbanism “TIMING 2010”,
Bat Yam, Israel. Curated by Yael Moria and Sigal Barnir.
Territorien des In/Humanen im Württembergischen Kunstverein,
Stuttgart. Curated by: Hans Christ and Iris Dressler.
Another Country / Eine andere Welt IFA, Berlin. - Another Country /
Eine andere Welt« IFA, Berlin.
Another Country / Eine andere Welt IFA, Stuttgart.
Smart Future Minds Award, Rome, Italy.
2009: Dreaming Milano, Ex Fondazione Mazzotta;
12xMilano: New Italian Architecture visions for a metropolis
in movement«, Urban Center, Milan, Italy.
2008: Acquatecture: nuovi scenari per la sopravvivenza, Nuova
Accademia Belle Arti (NABA) and Associazione no-profit H2O,
Milan, Italy.
1999–2005: Laurea in Architettura, Faculty of Architecture,
Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
2015: Design methodology, Master in interior and living design,
Domus Academy.
2013-2014: Laboratorio di tesi/interior design, NABA.
2013-2015: Architectural Design studio I, Politecnico di Milano.
Summer 2014: summer school interior design, NABA.
Summer 2013: summer school interior design, NABA.
2012-2014: Urban Design Workshop, Politecnico di Milano.
2011: Design methodology, Accademia di belle arti NABA.
2010-present: Master in Interior and Living Design, Domus
Academy Milan, Italy.
2010: Design methodology, Accademia di belle arti NABA
2009: Urban Design Workshop, Politecnico di Milano with
Stefano Boeri. “The Agriculture of the city” with Jorg Schroder
and Pierpaolo Tamburelli, TUM (Technische Universitat
Munchen), Munchen, Germany.
2008-2010: Politecnico di Milano, Piacenza, Italy.
“Placemakers: Urban design workshop” with Giovanni La Varra, ​
Politecnico di Milano.
2013: PhD in Spatial Planning and Urban Development, Faculty of
Architecture, Politecnico diMilano, Milan, Italy.
2008–2009: Master of Arts in Architecture and Urban Culture METROPOLIS: Universitade Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) and
Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Catalunya (CCCB),
2014-ongoing: World Bank Group, GRFDRR, Malawi
2005-2007: Architect and consultant for Deutsche
Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit(GTZ),
Batticaloa and Colombo, Sri Lanka
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Maxxi, museo delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome
M.A.X. Museo, Chiasso, CH
2016: Wheelwright prize, finalist.
2014: YAP MAXXI, Roma, Giovani architetti italiani, shortlisted.
2013: YAP MAXXI, Roma, Giovani architetti italiani, shortlisted.
2012: Headlands center for the Arts, San Franscisco, California.
2010: Selected participant at the Bat Yam Biennale of Landscape
Urbanism: TIMING
Bat Yam, Israel.
2008: Phd Scholarship (3 years) at Politecncio di Milano, Faculty of
Architecture, Italy.
2009: Movin’ up. Giovani artisti italiani (GAI), Turin, Italy.
2009-2010: Akademie Schloss Solitude, recidency programme,
Stuttgart, Germany.
The buildings of the city of Prato and
the surrounding area only partially
reveal the complexity of their interiors.
Long series of warehouse buildings,
inherited from a past focused on heavy
industry, host a textile business which
still survives in a new, reinvigorated
Chinese-driven version. The articulated
reality which lies behind apparently
run-down facades, closed doors, and
infrequent, darkened signs can be
perceived only by an attentive passerby.
These seemingly somnolent buildings
reveal themselves as reverberant the
moment one approaches them.
The repetitive, constant sound of
sewing machines echoes, night and
day, as the large Chinese community
in Prato plays its role in a globalized
market of clothes design, production,
and sale from these modest local units.
Yet, there is one day when the sewing
machines stop, the community takes
a break from the incessant production
process, and the world-famous
Chinese dragon runs through the
streets of the historic city center, and
then through the surrounding industrial
towns. A red carpet is placed outside
each warehouse, and a small altar with
offerings of food is set up inside.
Finally, millions of clothing items, only
partially hidden by large tarpaulins, popup. The noise is overwhelming when
long lines of firecrackers and fireworks
explode in the daytime sky.
Following the path of the dragon,
you can actually get a sense of the
dimensions of the productive area,
which starts in the city center and
extends to its periphery and to the
small towns surrounding Prato:
Cantagallo, Carmignano, Montemurlo,
and Poggio a Caiano, among others.
During the Chinese New Year, a
completely closed territory is suddenly
revealed and accessible, offering
a landscape of fireworks, festivities,
and one million clothing items open to
the city and its surroundings.
The celebration signals a break in
the tensions that result from the still
extremely problematic process of
integration between the Chinese and
Italian communities.
All the actors and institutions are
there to collaborate: mayors, monks,
businessmen, and workers.
Each of them has a clear role in the
organization, and the feast is, ostensibly
for a moment, part of the Pratese
calendar at large. Rather than peaceful,
the atmosphere is powerful
and explosive.
The crisis of the Italian textile market
has found the perfect opportunity
for continuity with the new Chinese
“pronto-moda” method of production. In
a delicate stasis, the Chinese presence
holds the future of the textile past.
Prato offers the basic infrastructure
needed to operate within the logics
of the empire: a bunch of run-down
factories, the proximity of traditional
local manufacturing skills, and a cheap
labor force. Together with these,
the cultural network revealed by the
Chinese New Year makes possible
the comforting “Made in Italy” tag on
clothes: a paradoxical manifestation of
The gonfalon, gonfanon or gonfalone
(from the early Italian confalone) is a
type of heraldic flag or banner, often
pointed, swallow-tailed, or with several
streamers, suspended from a crossbar
in an identical manner to the ancient
Roman vexillum. It was first adopted
by Italian medieval city councils, and
later, by local guilds, corporations
and districts. A gonfalone normally
includes a badge, or coat of arms, and
ornamentation taken from the local
collective memory. Its overall layout
is generally fixed, according to strict
heraldic rules, common to every city,
while the content and the symbols,
vary according to the specificity of the
place. Today every Italian municipality
has a gonfalone which reflects the
identity of the city and is regularly used
in any official occasion: ecclesiastic
ceremonies, processions, university
ceremonies, town feasts and even
We proposed to organize a worshop
with the aim to re-think the Gonfalone,
traditional symbol of identity for every
italian comune. The event’s goal
was to try to re-design a new urban
interpretation of Prato, using, as a
starting point, the existing one and
its heraldic language. Building on the
existing illustrations, we discussed how
to re-actualize it, in accordance with the
changing needs of the contemporary
world, the new local identity and the
collective memory. A number of
representatives of the local institutions,
were called upon to design a new
symbol for the city.
The idea that spiritual needs are an urban
issue has always been part of human
history. One of the biggest changes to
occur in this century is the pluralization
of cultural and religious references
that have brought about both different
religions as well as the collective practice
of secular rituals.
The so-called “return of the sacred” is
considered one of the consequences of
the collapse of the absolute certainties
of modernity, and implies a widespread
system of architectures, people, and
ritual objects.
Sacred spaces, attended physically,
and even virtually, can be man-made
or naturally spiritual. There are sacred
spaces that include non-sacred
spaces, or sacred spaces that, in
certain occasions, may become nonsacred. A sacred space exists when it
is interpreted as such. For the believer,
space is not homogeneous. At the point
one encounters a certain place, there is a
break in the continuity of time and space.
Due to the lack of space for different
cultural expressions, public spaces are
the locus where collective memories,
public happiness, and discontent are
ostensibly manifested.
Fort Tryon Park center for rituals is a
diorama for human beings in which a
series of full scale replicas of desired
landscapes is reproduced. It is a
collection of places by which fragments
of existing monuments from every part
of the world are reunited in the same
park. Consisting of small pavilions,
temples, open air monuments, and
mausoleums, each replica is inspired
by existing scenarios in which man and
nature interact in different ways. Fort
Tryon Park is a place of wonder where,
along its small alleys, man can perform
his own individual and collective rituals. It
is a fragmented monument to individual
desires, and religious and secular
memories. Fort Tryon Park envisions
a future in which remote places are
physically reunited in the same territory.
For four months the exhibition space
of Istituto Svizzero in Milan will be
inhabited by the temporary bookshop
RIVIERA. Here the time and space
of exhibitions and reading will cross,
contaminate and interfere with one
another to become a place crossed
by many possible trajectories and
histories, addressed each time
through a precise selection of
books and exhibitions connected
with graphics, design, fashion and
the visual arts. RIVIERA is a project
developed in collaboration with
Caterina Riva and Dallas, in which
books are the protagonists: as objects,
contents, forms, pretexts, obsessions,
collectibles or curiosities, mirrors,
obstacles, mirages. The bookshop,
organized in collaboration with a+m
bookstore, will offer a stock of titles
that increases over time, becoming the
fulcrum of a versatile period containing
different appointments: presentations,
interventions, performances, sales,
exhibitions. The installation by Matilde
Cassani, like a flight of steps, offers
the infrastructure and setting that
will fill up and empty like the tides, to
contain publications, works and visitors,
transforming each time, balancing the
functions of audience space and stage
ARTICOLO 10, 2016
Article 10 is a project that provides
basic health care through the
EMERGENCY Association.
The device includes a basic outpatients
clinic and a waiting room, sheltered
and shaded, on the outside.
A system of overlapping curtains
provides shade in summer and
insulation in winter.
During the night, a bright sphere
illuminates the surrounding area,
enlarging its field of action to a public
space and indicating its presence even
at a distance.
The tea room is designed to frame,
without disturbing, the geometric
gestures of Michiko, who slowly
moves through space, leaving nothing
to chance. The four walls of the
room can be fully opened during the
performance, in order to make room
for a larger audience. The intimacy
of a place that can hold up to three
people becomes suddenly shared.
The box becomes a background and
the audience is both the viewer and
the guest of the performed ritual.
The ceremony, from private, becomes
public. The simplicity of the design
accurately reflects the need to focus
on the movements produced in a time
which is both stretched and quiet.
The few objects arranged on the
Tatami wait for the arrival of the teacher.
The background acts as a window
on an imaginary colorful and natural
landscape, which, in this case, is just
the blurred image of the exhibition that
runs behind the scene.
Chashitsu per Michiko, 2015
Exhibition: Museo MAXXI, “Food, dal cucchiaio al mondo”
Institution: MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, Roma
Curator: Pippo Ciorra
Team: Martina Motta
Photos: Mattia Panunzio
Video: Studio Ancarani
Every year the numerous Sikh temples
built across the Italian agricultural
farmlands of the Pianura Padana host
a huge harvest festival, the Vaisakhi,
bringing together thousands of Sikhs.
During this time, the religious diversity
of the rural Italian population becomes
evident; in just 20 years, the country
has developed from a clear Catholic
majority to a complex and unique
pattern of religious communities. “The
Vaisakhi questions how urban reality
and the use of urban spaces change
much more quickly than do urban
planning policies, tools or regulations.
Countryside worship/A celebration Day
Exhibition: Monditalia
Institution: XIV Architecture Biennale, Venezia
Curator: Rem Kolhaas
Author: Matilde Cassani
Team: Delfino Sisto Legnani, Photography
Martina Motta, research assistant
Photos: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Through analytical and speculative
works, Sacred Spaces in Profane
Buildings is a public archive and
exhibition that explores the impact of
religious diversity on the contemporary
city and the new, non-traditional spaces
in which contemporary religious
pluralism manifests itself. The diffusion
of new urban religious communities is a
central feature in growing contemporary
urban societies: until a few years ago,
it was thought that the link between
public and religious places would
gradually disappear as societies gave
way to secularity. However, the demand
for religious spaces has not diminished,
it has simply been altered. Sacred
Spaces in Profane Buildings describes
the birth of religious architecture and
Sacred spaces in profane buildings: the New York Archive, 2011
Exhibition: Sacred Spaces in Profane buildings
Institution: Storefront for art and architecture, New York, NY
Curator: Eva Franch
Author: Matilde Cassani
Graphic design: NR2154
website: http://storefrontnews.org/
communities as it manifests itself in
the contemporary urban context. The
project is a transversal investigation
of the architectures, policies and
multitude of individual acts through
which each religion inhabits and
transforms the city of New York, which,
as most contemporary western cities,
reveals a partial image of its religious
The archive intends to construct a
public archive that explores the urban,
social and formal implications of these
urban religious practices. The exhibition
transformed Storefront’s Acconci-Holl
façade into a golden wall framing three
different series of objects.
What is the impact of religious
pluralism on a contemporary city?
What are the new places in which
religious pluralism manifests itself?
The increasing phenomenon of
migration imposes today a reflection
on the social, economic and spatial
consequences that multiculturalism
brings with itself. The global diffusion
of new urban religious communities
that have emerged across different
religions and different state and city
types have become a central feature of
urban societies and a new challenge
for urban planners. The research
aims to describe the birth of religious
architecture and communities in the
world’s metropolises as it manifests
itself. In particular, the subject of
my research is the transversal
investigation of the buildings, of the
policies, of the state of the art of the
planning instruments and also, on
the microcosm of informal and acts,
thanks to which, in absence of a
precise legislation, our new societies
form, grow and transform. Moreover, by
interlinking a series of significant case
studies that demonstrate the return
of the religious in the metropolises of
the world will be unveiled how this kind
of spatial needs, creating pressure on
the policies could push the planning
instruments ahead. Its purpose is to
generate new knowledge about a social
phenomenon with huge implications
for the future urban policies that has
so far received scarce attention in both
architecture and urban planning.
For this project, Cassani spearheaded
a comprehensive investigation of
the pivotal needs for prayer rituals of
four world religions as regards space,
furnishings, and other objects.
The artist’s orientation here was
particularly geared toward the
makeshift, sometimes unofficial
prayers rooms of religious minorities
in European cities. She developed
four mobile modules in which the
most important standards for praying
in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and
Sikhism were addressed and fulfilled
while engaging the smallest amount
of space possible. The elements are
all mass-produced objects, that, in
Sacred spaces in profane buildings: the New York Archive, 2011
Exhibition: Sacred Spaces in Profane buildings
Institution: Storefront for art and architecture, New York, NY
Curator: Eva Franch
Author: Matilde Cassani
Graphic design: NR2154
website: http://storefrontnews.org/
abscence of the proper ones,
act as sacred objects.
The container is a 1 x 2 metres large
box, foldable and transportable.
The site is an airport, a prison,
a cruise liner, a street or a garage.
As a metaphore of the current reality
the “Spiritual device” act as solidified
heterotopy. The iconic, central, clear
image of a place to worship becomes
a box to be treated with strong faith.
+39 338 1404445
[email protected]
Via Nino Bixio 47
20129 Milano, Italy

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