MAD Architects creates a translucent installation for the Milan Design Week 2016 in the traditional Cortile d’Onore courtyard of Università degli Studi di Milano. The installation is a part of the “Open Borders” exhibition, curated by the Italian magazine Interni. MAD’s contribution, entitled “Invisible Border”, alters the perception of space.

“Borders are usually seen as something closed and unapproachable but I think it’s interesting to make borders attractive, dynamic and engaging. So we decided to play with the border between the historical loggias and the garden in front of it, and design a transition in-between them,” says Ma Yansong founder and principal architect of MAD Architect.


The installation represents a sculptural gesture that is inserted to break the balance of the Cortile d’Onore and at the same time establish a new shelter, between the façade and the courtyard, for people to engage in discussions or just contemplate the sky through the canopy. The result is an installation, inspired by natural flow of wind and water, which extends the physical and conceptual threshold of a boarder.

“Our installation blurs the boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary. You see the difference in each end, but the transition is very organic. It’s like we open up a conversation between the past and the present,” adds Ma Yansong.


MAD’s installation is comprised of ETFE with a gradient color, the lightweight and flexibility of the polymer allows it to move with the wind and create a subtle whistling sound. The installation reflects the hues of the sky during the day, leaving glimpses of the columns and loggias. In the evening it becomes a luminous surface that brings the courtyard to live with new colors.

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all images © Moreno Maggi