New Ötzis in contemporary home design
Cino Zucchi tells us what makes a house a home, how everyday technologies are transforming design rules, and how we are redefining quality.
Today as never before, there is a focus on the quality of home interiors, the need for roomier, better structured, multipurpose spaces with more contact with the green outdoors. These demands arise not so much from the post-pandemic situation as from a more profound transformation of home lifestyles and a rethink of what an urban home should be. We discuss this with Cino Zucchi, architect, urban planner and university professor,designer of a large number of residential tower blocks.
What are the main home design factors for creating a serene habitat?
An architect must be deeply aware of the human needs and aspirations of the people who will live in the building, and adopt an approach that gives interiors a number of profound values, able to respond to individual needs and survive over time by adapting to them. After the “flight from the cities” in the ‘80s, for several decades now we have seen a strong return to quality urban living-spaces. In energy terms, city centres are much more environment-friendly than suburbs, and they offer more personal services and more stimulus, with their educational and cultural opportunities. Since their drawbacks are the lack of green spaces, the risk of loneliness and a higher cost of living, the design of new buildings and districts must add very high environmental quality, communal spaces that nurture a sense of community, and intelligent construction and distribution that create economical, efficient homes. After Covid, every home must have a terrace, or a “green outdoor area”.
The demands in terms of apartments seem to have changed a great deal. What are your thoughts on this?
It only takes a smartphone snap of one of my four children asleep on the sofa one morning – well before the Coronavirus imprisoned us all – to undermine the entire theoretical construct of the “functionalist” home, based on the absolute pairing of rooms and activities. Within a radius of no more than two metres from his sleeping form, we find a laptop with the frozen images of the last work meeting, a cup of coffee, the remains of a Japanese-Brazilian meal ordered via home delivery, a just-unwrapped Amazon Prime parcel, and a smartphone with the icons of countless Apps which are the vital tools of a new “Similaun man” in the ecosystem of the contemporary city.
How can these demands be translated into architecture?
Paradoxically, we have rediscovered the importance of some home “fundamentals”: the right room size, giving them the right sunlight exposure, window size and positioning in relation to interiors and views, and good distribution layout. But in fact we are better able to adapt to the new lifestyles generated by the incorporation of IT than to the many “expedients” introduced by property companies in pursuit of transient market demands.
CINO ZUCCHI BIOGRAPHY
Architect, urban planner and Full Professor of Architectural and Urban Design at the Politecnico in Milan, Cino Zucchi is the founder of CZA Architetti in the same city. He sits regularly on the international juries of architecture awards, such as the 2015 Mies van der Rohe Prize. He is a member of international research groups including ARE-Living on innovation in home design. He has written a number of books and publishes in many journals, including Domus and Casabella. He holds many awards, including, most recently, an Honourable Mention at the 2020 Premio italiano di Architettura for the Lavazza Headquarters