HomeArchitectureMilan Design Week, the Living Nature project by Carlo Ratti

Milan Design Week, the Living Nature project by Carlo Ratti


People and nature are two antipodes in an indissoluble but troubled relationship. However, if we hope for prosperous and sustainable future, today nature has to inhabit our lives and our houses again, for a finally possibile reconciliation. 

The 57th edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano will explore the relationship between nature and living with an exhibition-installation designed to trigger ideas about sustainable design in the internal and external parts of the home: the Salone’s city-based technological project Living Nature. La Natura dell’Abitare developed with the Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) international design and innovation studio, will be in Piazza del Duomo, in front of Palazzo Reale, from 17th to 29th April.

A single 500m2 space, conceived with energy saving criteria in mind, will contain four natural, climactic microcosms that will enable all four seasons of the year to unfold at precisely the same time, one next to the other: visitors will be immersed in nature and experience its changes as they make their way through the four different areas – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – embellished with familiar and domestic concepts. 

But the project, conceived by CRA with Barbara Römer, does not fail to deliver in terms of ironic, evocative and experiential value: while the obvious aim is the reconciliation between urban and domestic spaces on one hand and nature on the other, the end goal is to come up with sustainable, genuinely applicable solutions that replicate the processes inherent in our own ecosystem, harnessing existing technological advances in an intelligent manner. 

In addition, while air conditioning is often associated with excessive consumption, this project offers a radical change of perspective, demonstrating the feasibility of air conditioning technology that is also sustainable, with huge potential for future applications. 

The 5-metre-high pavilion will consist of a responsive Crystal membrane fitted with light- reactive sensors that enable the internal climatic conditions to be carefully regulated. A series of organic photovoltaic panels, equipped with latest generation solar cells inspired by chlorophyll photosynthesis, will be integrated into the roof, providing the energy required to keep the winter area cold. A heat exchange system draws on this energy to heat the summer area.

With this event, the Salone del Mobile.Milano is keen to make its contribution to the re- greening of the city, albeit temporary: ther aim is to explore whether or not a space, urban or domestic, can become more human-friendly through the sustainable use of natural resources. 

Ultimately, the project provides a new standpoint and a different perspective on tackling the issues of environmental sustainability and climate change with a view to improving our living conditions at home and in cities and satisfy the human tendency towards “biophilia” – a term coined by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson – according to which we are all instinctively attracted by nature and “programmed” to feel better when we are immersed in it.