Massimiliano Fuksas: Focus on Cinematic Architecture

How do you translate the visual language of iconic films into striking architecture?

By the dynamic interplay of light and water, according to Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, who presented on his wide-ranging work at the Doha Architecture Forum, with an opening by Msheireb’s Architectural Language Advisor Tim Makower, at the Msheireb Enrichment Centre in mid-May.

Ferrari HQ

Fuksas’ Ferrari’s HQ in Italy, partially inspired by directors Hitchcock and Kubrick, by Maurizio Marcato via Architecture Lab.

“If a building is dancing with the light, it’s a nice building,” Fuksas continued. “If it does not have vibration or emotion, it cannot work. It’s not enough to do only function, there are a lot of buildings that do only function. They ask for us something else — passion, emotion.”

Perhaps Fuksas’ best-known work is the Ferrari Operational Headquarters and Research Centre in Maranello, Italy (2004).

“When you see water, and the ceiling, and the reflection — the ceiling becomes dynamic,” he said excitedly. “Inside, it’s inspired by Hitchcock. You see a quiet Japanese garden, you can do a theatrical promenade, you can see, watch and arrive in an area with water. [One of the meeting rooms] looks like a Kubrick movie, with a void and red glass.”

Similarly inspiring is the Nardini Grappa Distillery (2004). Confined to an area walled in by trees, Fuksas was tasked to design an auditorium and research centres.

“At lunch, I did a project on the dish,” he said. “We put two wine bubbles, and we built. This is a typical Italian magical mystery!”

Fuksas designed two UFO-like glass pods, each with 365 glass panels, for research labs, and one doubles as an exhibition space, with a below-ground auditorium. Fuksas employed local artisans to construct the whole site.

“These stairways are coming into the water and come down, and there are some bubbles that take the light during the day and light up at night,” Fuksas said. “That’s what I love — the tension.”

During the wide-ranging talk, he also touched on the serpentine glass-covered New Milan Trade Fair in Italy, the wonderfully organic flower-shaped civic buildings in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the engineering marvel honeycombed Shenzhen International Airport’s Terminal 3 in China to open in 2015.

Fuksas says Doha can test future urbansim. / Giorgio Muratore via Wikimedia Commons.

Fuksas was excited about the possibilities for a booming Doha. “Here, you’re in the beginning of an urban explosion, especially with globalisation,” he said.

Architects can test different urbanist approaches in Doha. “Test is a bad word, it has positive and negative connotations,” Fuksas said. “But we have to test how 7 billion people will be living in the future.”

One aspiring architect asked about developing an architectural canon. Fuksas disagreed.

“Take inspiration from nature, from love, from books. Go around the world, see everything. Everything can be an inspiration. Architecture is not a language — it’s many languages into one. That’s why I love architecture: one symbol for many languages.” -30-