a | talk · Torricelli Associati Lab

Sara Riboldi and Carlotta Torricelli, architects P.h.D., are the founders, in 2006, of the Lab department of the Torricelli Associati studio in Milan.

Their activity is focused on architecture that considers different scales and themes. TAL is a full-on atelier, experimenting new types and techniques, investigating relationships between architectural theory, real cases and implementations.

Their work has focused in the last years on collective spaces as places of relationships, according to the Third Space Theory. Through their work they investigate all new kinds of workspaces, such as smart working projects.

What makes you go for a rubber flooring in a project? Is it an obvious choice, given the purpose of the building (for example a school, a hospital) or is it a creative decision?

We started using rubber floorings in two very specific contexts, both operating as franchises: the reconversion of industrial “open spaces” and the creation of shops. In the first case, we operated what I like to call a “rewriting” of an existing architecture: for example, old industrial architectures have found a “new life” and a new purpose – even socially – as co-working spaces. I am referring to the Login project, operating in cities like Milan and Turin.

In this experience, rubber proved to be an ideal creative tool to build a spatial narration: the variety of the colors collection allowed us to define different areas for different functions, creating continuity or establishing paths on the strength of color alone.

In a franchise setting, the possibility of using the corporate colors in the flooring design is fundamental, it is really an added value.

Also, I would like to mention the more technical advantages of rubber, nonetheless important: flexibility; adaptability to very different architectural settings; the fact that you can have the same flooring as a roll, a tile or in loose lay version; the easy reconversion the space will go through again in the future.

Do you think that rubber, as a concept, adds value to a project? Which are, in your experience and opinion, the “winning” features of rubber as a material for floors?

In our experience the Kayar collection, rubber flooring with natural coconut fibres (designed for Artigo by Sottsass Associati, ndr), is a very interesting material, because it combines the flexibility I was talking about before with sustainable features that are evident: you just see, in a glimpse, that is a natural material.

This is highly appreciated by our clients. It is what we call a “talking product”: it speaks for itself, the flooring alone makes you aware that the place (and thus the owner) are sensible towards ecology.

Color, texture or surface value (smooth vs studded): what makes you most excited when working with a rubber flooring?

Speaking from the client’s point of view, color it is.

The great thing about rubber is the freedom to choose from a massive color selection and, from there, to work on an integrated project that takes into account layout, furniture, corporate communication – all elements that concur to the creation of a project that is unique, in constant dialogue with its specific place and surroundings.

As an architect I strongly appreciate solutions such as the “studded” flooring, like the renowned project of the Linea 1 of the Milan Underground network by Franco Albini and Franca Helg. The public, in my experience, is more partial to textures like Kayar’s, which are perceived as more contemporary.

Is there a “dream project” in your desk featuring rubber floorings?

We would love to use rubber floorings in new constructions!

So far, we have only been able to use it in renovations, restorations and transformations of existing spaces.

Certain qualities of rubber floorings, such as low emissions and LEED credits make them extremely “a la page” given the current high level of attention towards ecology and sustainable architecture.

How do you see the future for rubber floorings?

We see a very bright future.

Eco-sustainability notwithstanding, flexibility and ease of installation are also a plus.

In our specific field of renovation and transformation of architectural heritage, rubber floorings are a splendid blend of technical qualities and aesthetic potential.

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