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PIOVENEFABI and Giovanna Silva

Milan, Italy


PIOVENEFABI is an office based in Milan, which works in national and international context in the fields of architecture, urban research and design. The office work has been exhibited in the following venues: Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa (2013 and 2016), Rotterdam Biennale (2014), Chicago Architecture Biennial (2015), Campo (Rome, 2016) and Frac Orleans (2017). The office will co-curate the next Lisbon Architecture Trienniale in 2019, together with Eric Lapierre, Sebastien Marot, Mariabruna Fabrizi and Fosco Lucarelli.

Ambra Fabi graduated in Architecture in Mendrisio. She has worked as art director and project leader at the Architeckturbüro Peter Zumthor und Partner and as a freelance architect in Milan. In 2012, together with Giovanni Piovene, she founded PIOVENEFABI. She assisted at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio and she is currently teaching at the KU Leuven in Brussels and at École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture in Marne-la-Vallée Paris Est.

Giovanni Piovene graduated in Architecture in Venice. In 2007 he co-founded the office Salottobuono, of which he has been partner until 2012. He co-founded San Rocco Magazine (2010) and curated the ‘Book of Copies’ book and exhibition (2014). In 2012, together with Ambra Fabi, he founded PIOVENEFABI. He assisted at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio and he is actually part of the FORM teaching unit in École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). He is currently teaching at École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture in Marne-la-Vallée Paris Est.

Giovanna Silva is an Italian photographer, born in Milano in 1980, she still lives and works there. She holds a Master of Science in Architecture from Politecnico di Milano and a Master in Cultural Anthropology, Ethnology, Ethnolinguistics from Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia. She has always used photography for editorial purposes, first in magazines and later on in her publications, until she has decided to establish her own publishing house, Humboldt Books, so that she could also work with other photographers as editor. Photographs are to her an instrument to build a narration, she uses them to tell a story, preferably alongside with texts.

She is founder of San Rocco magazine and she is part of the collectives Desertmed and 900 km Nile City. She teaches Photography at NABA Milano. She has published several books on her projects, both with Italian and international publishers, among which Mousse Publishing and Bedford Press. Her work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions such as the International Architecture Exhibition (Venezia), Villa Romana in Firenze, NGBK in Berlin, MACRO in Rome, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen and the Biennials of Istanbul and Thessaloniki.

CAB 2 Contribution

Project Overview


PIOVENEFABI revisit a time in Italy, during the booming 1950s and 1960s, where everything seemed possible. Emerging architects, artists, writers, and graphic designers—the cultural avant-garde of the time—were invited by companies and institutions to define a new manifesto of modernity: one with no compromises, far from the difficult years of the war. The first subway line in Italy, the M1 (or Red Line), was opened in Milan on November 1, 1964. At that time, the new infrastructure injected the idea of an Italian metropolis in a country that previously had little concept of it. The project of the subway stations was assigned to the architects Franco Albini and Franca Helg and to the graphic designer Bob Noorda. Aiming to give an outstanding identity to the new Milanese transport vector, their intervention was a light, but resistant, superstructure which dressed an already built infrastructural void. The subway finishes were “designed searching for the standardization of materials, to achieve a certain repeatability.” Production companies were proud to be part of such a challenge: new materials were tested for the occasion, such as the Silipol, a colorful stained concrete, or the Pirelli black rubber floor, which later became a mainstream flooring choice. Within the different reality of today such a productive effort appears as pure archeology. Presented here, their METROPOLITANA is a series of furniture pieces that reinterpret the project for the Milanese subway lines one and two. As an act of appropriation, material of the original metro is transformed into a furniture piece in a new domestic landscape.

The City is the Site