Milan based architect Mathilde Cassani has adorned the granite stairs of the Chicago Cultural Center Washington entry with a subtle and site-specific ornament. The design is based on a series of Greek ‘frets,’ or decorative borders, that line the riser of each stair, their shape derived from elements found inside the Cultural Center. The concept of Ornament is based on the Santa Maria del Monte in Caltagirone, Sicily stairwell. Made of 130 risers, each one inspired by a different era of ornamentation. The stairwell displays Renaissance, to Baroque, to the 18th century. One travels through the decorative language of European architecture as they climb the stairs.
Born in 1980, Matilde Cassani studied Architecture at Politecnico Di Milano and at Univesitade Tecnica de Lisboa, then Architecture and Urban culture (»Metropolis«) at the CCCB (Centro de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona) and UPC (Universidade Politecnica de Catalunya) in Barcelona/Spain (postgraduate degree). She holds a PhD in Spatial Planning and Urban Development. After her graduation Cassani worked as a consultant for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) (German association for technical cooperation) in Sri Lanka, where she started developing a research project on the post tsunami reconstruction. She currently teaches at Politecnico di Milano and at Domus Academy and works on a research project on “Holy Urbanism”. Her practice reflects the spatial implications of cultural pluralism in the contemporary Western urban context.
Matilde Cassani often moves on the border between architecture, installation and performance. 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 Fransisco. 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 Ecole Speciale d’ Architecture in Paris.