Submitted by Francesca Cuoghi

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

Italy Architecture News - Oct 28, 2020 - 11:01   6535 views

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota unveil MEET – Milan’s center for digital culture and creative technology. Occupying a newly renovated historic palazzo, the building revolves around a 15-meter-high vertical plaza. The design investigates how physical space can foster serendipity and unexpected connections between people in a digital world. 

The visionary architects have created a new stunning place for International Digital Culture in the city of Milan. Despite a tough year due to Covid, the cultural life is trying to stay strong. Meet is a very important milestone in this period. 

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

The aim of this out-of-ordinary center is to investigate the meaning of physical space in an increasingly digitized world. It argues that architecture should foster unexpected encounters between people, precisely those that are missing in the digital realm. The design of MEET strives to achieve this aim through the hybridization of functions – that is, the possibility for any space to simultaneously host different activities. Such a design approach is best expressed by the central vertical plaza, but it extends throughout the center, to multiple rooms for exhibitions, talks, and performances.

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

According to Carlo Ratti: “What is the role of physical space in a digital world? Today, we continue to live and work in pandemic-induced isolation where almost anything can be done online. At this time, it is vital to use architecture to produce serendipitous moments and help foster new connections – precisely those that rarely happen on the web. One way to achieve this objective is to overcome any strict division of spatial functions. When every place can serve multiple purposes, it brings together multiple communities, facilitating the generation and circulation of new ideas.”

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

The vertical plaza at the core of the building embodies the project’s vision. All around a brightly-colored stairwell that moves in a zigzagging fashion, people can stop onto a series of asymmetric landings, enriched by a system of multimedia projections. These spaces can be used for talks, installations, art performances. 

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

Most importantly, they encourage chance encounters as people navigate through the building. The MEET venue embeds digital technologies into physical space with an array of advanced projection systems and screens scattered across the building. This allows people to access MEET’s digital archive in unexpected ways. Drawing on the idea of “ubiquitous computing” put forward by scientist Mark Weiser, who argued that digital technology would become so pervasive that it will “recede into the background of our lives”, the project transforms architecture itself into a medium to share knowledge and culture.

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

MEET is hosted in a palatial building in the central Milanese neighborhood of Porta Venezia. The palace was built in the early 20th century and expanded by renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti in the late 1990s. The MEET venue as renovated by CRA and Italo Rota extends over 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) across three levels. Among other functions, it accommodates a reconfigurable auditorium and movie theater operated in collaboration with the longstanding Cineteca Italiana, a café, and an immersive hall for digital installations.

Taking Digital Arts to new heights with Meet

Project facts

MEET Digital Culture Center

A project by CRA Carlo Ratti Associati 

Creative consultancy: Italo Rota

All images © Michele Nastasi, Serena Giardina

The Digital Culture Center is powered by Artemide and Mediatrade

With the support of Fondazione Cariplo

> via CRA Carlo Ratti Associati