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‘solis silos: feed on light’
lighting project:mario nanni
photos:giorgio de vecchi
february 2015, flight madrid bologna. little time ahead for a project that must contain a lot: light, products, thought and emotion, philosophy, expo 2015, energy, international year of light, welcoming space, planning and not installation… concepts that fill up the mind of mario nanni. a pencil but no paper, as always, in his pockets a whole set of pens as if he’d just left the stationer’s, but no surface to write on. his famous blank page from which to begin a new project daily is the ongoing plunder of his days, even while travelling. around only sky and sleep, the sound of someone snoring next to him and the inadequate space for standing up and rummaging in his bag. he looks at the seat in front, opens the pocket, the sick bag: everything that is a support for a new project may become a blank page to fill. a stroke, a curve, a sign, then seven: solis silos is born. In the time it takes the others to awaken ‘solis silos, feeding on light’ is no longer just an idea, it already has a form. the project was carried out within a research itinerary linked to the international year of light and expo 2015 entitled ‘feeding the planet, energy for life’. a series of seven majestic cylindrical columns, a perspective cone, a path that puts itself forward to explore the physical, aesthetic and symbolic values connected to one of the essential realities of the human experience: light, which since the renaissance has also been a fundamental dimension of art. a powerfully contemporary revisitation of the ancient ‘splendor solis’ (approx. 1530), the most fascinating alchemical manuscript known. solis silos, modern containers of light, are therefore the physical translation and the most sincere emotional interpretation of a genre of art and knowledge of which this manuscript was the foremost expression; a happy synthesis in an arduous task of symbolisation of profound concepts, of pauses and breaths which feed on mario nanni’s works of light. the seven silos of light develop as powerfully vertical structures. 10 metres high and 3.5 metres in diameter, they are interlinked in linear sequence to better exploit the sensorial characteristics of the individual themes: earth, air, light-bulbs, sun, moon, water and fire. a path of more than 30 metres of which the focal point is always visible but not the emotion concealed by the next step. they are objects on an urban scale which conceal within themselves the attention to detail of a domestic object. volumes created with iron left in its natural state, a material that can be transformed both in its surface and colour because the passing of time is an integral part of a good project, especially when it is not intended as a mere installation. the silo is functional due to its vertical form which puts the sky into relation with the earth, allowing water to enter from above and letting natural light dialogue with artificial light: from water to earth, from sun to matter, from moon to its reflection. the vertical path of light intersects with the horizontal path of the spectator. everything begins from a dark hallway, compressed, silent: the pause before visual and emotional immersion. the scenario opens up: a series of concentric passages that tend to close up, reducing their size and accentuating the perspective cone, emphasising the depth and axial length of the complete project. the first is the silo of earth because, as the maestro says, one begins from simple things. we begin from where we were born, from where we stand and from where we grow our daily nourishment. the soil is made of the thousand colours of matter and the essences of food; the floor consists of hundreds of glass jars filled with spices and leds; light and food blend in a single architectonic element. the solid yet lightweight lamp of maestro zumthor (barra d’oro) rises and falls like a tide of light on the earth. we continue in the silo of air where lightness, whiteness and transparency permeate the space. light lies in a breath and is mirrored in the ventilated and reflecting floor. the third silo is that of the light-bulbs: an icon and in its way an element of life which in this project comes under the natural elements. a cascade of n55 in which only one e27 lights up: technology and energy, energy saving attitude and research provide a corollary to the poetry of the light of incandescence. there is no qualitative difference in the perception of artificial light between the two sources, to such an extent that you can screw and unscrew as you like, replace them and adorn them with new glass light-bulbs, but there is a substantial energy and ethical difference that the n55 embodies in a single gesture: the quality of light of the e27 with the energy saving technology of the led. the central silo, the balancing point between the elements, is the sun: a space in which the morning light penetrates from a slit and floods the volume by refracting on the thousand cascade lenses on a dome of brass at the centre of the floor on which you can stretch out to immerse yourself in the sun. the visual cone is that of sir david chipperfield’s da ma. from male sun to female moon; in a spatial atmosphere the slow movement of maestro kuma’s overturned lamps, the tsukimiso lamps, beats the rhythm of the spectator’s steps and invites reverential attention to that lunar light which, reflecting in a mirror, strikes the alabaster disc: luna, maestro zumthor’s moon. from moon to water in a cascade of litres of light, to the silo of fire, wholly faced internally with patches of burnt canvas. The odour of fire and its heat (this is the silo exposed to the south) lead directly to the centre of the earth, to the vital nucleus, to the umbilical cord that unites forever in a fervour of life. the seven silos: outside seven identical bodies, inside seven different architectonic stories; as if they were seven people, seven traveller messengers of light that may, having once abandoned via san marco in milan, settle in other places, each with a life of its own, able to welcome new projects, new works, new functions… new dreams.