Who wouldn’t want to be dripping in gold just once in their lives? Well, unless you’re Kanye West, Snoop Dogg or Lady Gaga the chances are pretty slim. There is one way… be the ‘Haunted House’ designed by Rem Koolhaas at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, covered in 24k gold leaf.
In 1993 the famous Italian fashion house, Prada, established its own cultural organization which was dedicated to cinema, philosophy and the arts. The Fondazione Prada is now one of the most well - known and exiting cultural spots out there, and the fact that it is located in the middle of one of the most amazing fashion and shopping capitals of the world doesn’t hurt either. Rem Koolhaas and his team focused on creating a number of unique spaces to present art throughout the project. The incentive, to create an experimental program for different languages and disciplines, was derived from the diverse spaces within the complex. Although these spaces are independent from each other they were created to co-exist.
Located in an industrial complex in Milan, the former distillery from the 1910’s consisted of six structures which included laboratories, a warehouse, brewing silos as well as a tower, a transformable cinema, a museum for temporary exhibitions. While renovating the existing structures, three new ones were added to the site by (Podium, Cinema and Torre) to the site by OMA and its research arm AMO. The old warehouses and factories buildings got a fabulous facelift with new finishes while the new structures were purposely given a similar industrial charm and look, using modern materials.
The old and the new together have created a magical environment unlike any other, the contrast of shapes, materials, old and new have not just created but also defined the Fondazione Prada to be what it is known as today.
Together, they have created several small courtyards on different level, dividing the spaces. The cinema, clad with mirrors, is a partially sunken standalone structure unlike the glazed Podium which is built around the beautiful golden Haunted House. The group of architects and designers at OMA couldn’t have come up with a more unique and bold way to emphasize the old structure of the Haunted House than cladding it with the 24k gold leaf, leaving only the windows exposed. The idea, although last minute as said by Koolhaas, was to give value to a rather ‘normal’ component of the complex.
Who would have thought that cladding an entire building with gold leaf could be cheaper than the conventional materials such as marbles and stones?
If you, like us, have the hots for beautiful museum architecture and design you will appreciate the spaces that stand out for whichever reason. Although tastes and opinions will vary amongst us, the Fondazione Prada is one that leaves everyone in awe and is one to remember. In an industrial city such as Milan, it shines through the concrete and glass buildings like a hidden gold nugget. And let me tell you something: The Haunted House by OMA is our favorite little gold nugget out there.