Off the Cuff: Filtering the Sky and Capturing the Space

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Location: Palazzo Litta, Milan, Italy
Dates: 4-9 April 2017
Photography: Iwan Baan - photography

The courtyard of the Palazzo Litta historically has mediated between public streets and private lives; this fusion of collectivity and individuality animates the elegant space, rendering it a vital setting for design discourse. For DAMN’s Salone del Mobile events, Diller Scofidio + Renfro engaged Palazzo Litta’s courtyard with the most basic architectural element—the roof—to filter the sky and capture the space.

The roof canopy is composed of 300 pairs of jeans.  Deploying the jeans as a ready-made, intentionally mis-using and translating them from the context of the human body into an architectural module. The design exploits the implicit structural logic of the jeans—connecting them waist–to–waist and cuff–to–cuff—to create a tensile, catenary diagrid that spans the open space of the courtyard. The net gives the impression of a body imprinted in space, but one also de–familiarized by repetition.

As an architectural figure, the net springs across the courtyard, describing a collective ethos; as a series of modular parts, the jeans point to the individual human dimension. A contemporary folly in the bracketed context of monumental classicism, the canopy stitches together two vital scales of urban life.