Making People’s Live Better Through Architecture and Design: Meet Mattia Gola
From creating a communal space that feels inviting to everyone who enters it to designing a workspace within a residential home that effectively boosts productivity, a conscious and thoughtful approach to architecture and design improves the lives of those who inhabit a space.
For architect Mattia Gola, one of the driving forces behind his passion to design commercial and residential properties is the desire to make people’s lives better.
“In general, helping others comes naturally to me, and that’s something I’ve transferred into my work as an architect. I think it is essential for an architect to not only to satisfy the client’s requests, but to create something special for them,” explains Gola.
“This process starts with listening and talking with your client about their everyday life. Big things come from small things. Everything is transformed into emotions through the use of colors, shapes and materials.”
Over the years Gola has designed everything from healthcare facilities such as Molinette hospital’s TC-Colon Diagnostic Centre, the first center in Italy dedicated to virtual colonoscopies, to schools, including the 2021 Urbanfile Architecture and Urban Planning Award winning Scuola Primaria Viscontini, a primary school that was designed with a low environmental impact.
He has also designed numerous residential properties, such as a combined private home and bed and breakfast in Mathi, Italy, which earned the 2012 Architetture Rivelate Award from the Order of Architects of Turin, as well as the large scale commercial residential property Corte Alfieri in Torino.
Working with Baietto Battiato Bianco and R3 Architetti, Gola was a key visionary in the Corte Alfieri project, which transformed what had originally been built as a noble palace in the 19th century, but was being used in recent years as an office building, into a 70 unit residential property that weaves together historical beauty and modern luxury.
“Corte Alfieri represents one of the latest examples for real estate success, aimed at redeveloping and enhancing prestigious properties in the most important cities in Italy,” says Gola. “The project was also very appreciated by the population of Torino, as it gave a new life to one of the most prestigious buildings in the historical center of the city.”
As a design architect and project manager for Corte Alfieri, Gola was integral to more than just establishing the building’s new identity, but also solving some of the complex problems that needed to be addressed in order to bring the building up to date. Preserving the existing facades, Gola and the team focused on renovating the main courtyard to feel as though the residents lived on the edges of an outdoor theater, something they achieved through the addition of a vertical metal stud system that ideologically represented the curtains of a theater. In addition to effusing a feeling of art, history and culture through intricate nuances of design, Gola brought the building into modern times by adding a rigid layer of insulation on the inner leaf of the walls along the street to make the building more energy efficient.
Combining a holistic and multidisciplinary interpretation of the clients’ needs in his approach to architecture, Gola focuses on implementing the latest technologies to achieve greater sustainability for the projects he creates.
For the award winning Scuola Primaria Viscontini, Gola used his skill as a BIM specialist to help design a low environmental impact structure that qualifies as a Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB), which is made with a wooden load-bearing structure, includes photovoltaic panels on the roof and is designed to provide excellent acoustic quality and ensure internal natural lighting.
During the design process Gola and the team created a sharing experience that allowed for the parents, teachers, children and neighborhood locals to express their needs. The students were also invited to submit drawings of their ideal school, which were carefully taken into account during the creative design process.
“In the case of the Viscontini school in Milan, we asked the children to think about how they imagined the school of their dreams,” recalls Gola. “The idea for the project was born by analyzing children’s drawings, not only from the designer’s mind. Close collaboration with those who will use the spaces we design is a key element, which I always try to put first in my work.”
“Architecture is magical. For me it’s a passion, more than a job. One of the aspects that I really like about my job is the flexibility, it’s definitely not a static job. You never stop learning, and each new project you start designing is a challenge,” says Gola.
“When we design, we have to think that we’re building something that could be there forever. I’m drawn to Frank Gehry’s saying, ‘Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.’ This exactly reflects what I think about architecture.”
Discovering his love for architecture at a young age, Mattia Gola grew up in Chieri, a small city southeast of Turin, Italy where he says he was privileged to enjoy the amenities offered by a city whilst also experiencing the peace of being surrounded by nature. With ancient churches, monuments and a strong Roman influence, Gola was fascinated by Chieri’s rich architectural history.
“I think that my passion for architecture started by simply walking in the city and observing the different types of buildings in the streets,” recalls Gola. “I realized that being an architect was my future career when I visited Prague and I saw The Dancing House designed by Frank Gehry. I was completely fascinated by the sinuous shape of the building and how the architecture was used to metaphorically represent two people that are dancing. Designing a building that transmits emotions was absolutely the main reason I decided to be an architect.”
Over the years Gola has worked as an architect for numerous prestigious firms, such as R3 Architetti, Baietto Battiato Bianco, Subhash Mukerjee, MARC Studio, Archi-Tectonics and most recently, Studio Caban.
When asked about his favorite projects to work on, Gola explains, “The scope of my work is to make the lives of other people more special. I love the relationship that it creates with the clients to satisfy their needs. I believe that this type of connection happens more in a residentials and commercial projects than in the other categories.”
Exploring the relationship between people and space, Gola pays close attention to the ways color can affect the mood of the environment, and how shapes affect emotion. Early on in his career, while working as an architect for Subhash Mukerjee, Gola served as a design architect on the TC-Colon Diagnostic Center, a diagnostic center for colorectal cancer. Considering that hospital patients are often among those who are in the greatest need of a mood lift, it was key for Gola to figure out how to design the space in a way that made people feel better.
The first of its kind in Italy, the project approached the idea of a traditional clinic from an innovative standpoint that used architecture in a way that allowed the public to orient themselves within the space practically without the need of signs, while also using color and design to provide the patients with a feeling of comfort and confidence.
“The diagnostic center was designed with the idea of creating a pleasant and comfortable environment. Patients are able to relax on the comfortable seat that envelops the entire room, which is colored yellow like the sun to give a feeling of warmth. The use of colors was key to making the space more playful and less monotonous, as can typically be found in a hospital,” explains Gola.
“Blue and green identify the two test rooms, offering a simple choice for patients. By creating this nice play of colors, it allows for the patient who comes out of the clinic not to have a dark memory of the place, ideologically almost forgetting the problems and the reason why he went there.”
For Mattia Gola, architecture and design are about so much more than erecting pretty buildings; instead, his craft is a vehicle that allows him to help people from all walks of life, something that he will undoubtedly continue to do throughout his career. Up next for Gola, who is now working as an architect for Studio Caban in the US, is an exciting Mexican villa project that he is designing to integrate the beauty of living amongst nature with modern luxury.
Gola says, “Architects don’t just ‘design pretty buildings.’ Architects should build on engineering and creative strengths to reimagine the future with an insurgent mindset, pushing architecture beyond its current boundaries and redefining the industry as it changes.”