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Atchitecture is a crystal #Gio Ponti


Gio Ponti was a continuous reference for Italian architecture and design during his lengthy career, from the creation of Domus in 1928 until his international projects in the sixties. But it was mainly in the fifties when Ponti built his most renowned works, such as the Distex chair for Cassina or the unmistakable Pirelli skyscraper in Milan.

For this building, popularly called il Pirellone, Ponti assembled a team of designers that included the famous structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi. They worked together on the different structural solutions for the tower. It resulted thirty-one cantilevered slabs that hang like branches in a tree from two pairs of concrete trunks that taper upward according to the diminishing load. The two triangular ends of the tower, with their vertical slot, stiffen the building, which is also hovered by a slender roof.

But when it is pure, also the Architecture of reinforced concrete is pure and neat as a crystal; it is, like crystals, a pure reflection of the laws of physics: when you look at it against the backdrop of the sky you feel the same feeling of precision. Gio Ponti, Amate l’Architettura, 1957

The same fusion of function, structure and form pared down to essentials runs through all the areas of Gio Ponti’s work. A prime example of the application of these principles is the Superleggera chair from 1957, a radical slenderising of the traditional Chiavari chairs. For the Pirelli tower, Ponti also designed the interior and the office furniture with the same smart elegance of the structure. The final result is a building that embodies the corporative image of the Pirelli firm much better than any advertising campaign.