Michele Merla graduated from the Università degli Studi di Firenze with an honours degree in Architecture. Having established himself as a multiple award-winning Italian architect in the last two plus decades, Michele Merla’s awe-inspiring creations are second to none. His professional career started in the year 1999 and since then, Michele Merla has made a mark of his own in the world of architecture and interiors. In the year 2010, Michele established his studio 7 Dimensioni Architetti Associati in Foggia, Italy.
Michele Merla elucidates, “The name ‘7dimensioni’ encloses the pure geometric perception of space, height, width, depth and the sensorial perception of sound, light, scent and time.” The readers will be amazed to know that this young handsome man had aspired to become an actor, dancer and stylist during his teens. As destined, he chose architecture instead to make a mark in the world with his fabulous design creations. The ‘Geisha House’, the ‘Cassano Home’, the ‘Daniele House’ and the new ‘Headquarters of Tele Radio Padre Pio’ are some of his recently completed prominent projects.
Johnny D interacts at great length with the sauve architect Michele Merla to explore various aspects of the man behind all the amazing design creations and his recently completed project ‘Cassano Home’.
What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to be an architect?
During my childhood, I liked clay modeling. I had a true passion about creating and building tools. The world of creating carnival floats fascinated me a lot (smiles), but growing up my passion got diverted towards theatre, dance and fashion. At some point of my life, I had to make a decision as to what my dream job would be. I was equally attracted towards acting, dancing, styling and architecture.
Even though, I have always been passionate about creating beauty, emotions in people and having a certain combination with harmony and disharmony. My interest focuses on the study and use of shapes, which are the elements that I mostly use in all my inventions and design creations. In the end, I chose to be an architect (smiles)
What really goes in your mind, when the client states the first brief?
A whole world opens before me and the journey of my mind begins. My adventure begins and from there my fantasy starts, so with it does the design of the project. I start by familiarizing with the client. I start carrying him into a world of imagination made of dream visions of the interested living place and emotional transport.
What was the brief of ‘Cassano Home’ project?
The brief was to create an open space, bringing nature and the landscape into the habitation. Create open, dynamic, and light-filled spaces. The renovation and interior decoration process of ‘Cassano Home’ involved the unification of volumes belonging to different properties and the connection between a floor below and an attic one. Given the incipit of the whole design, the elements that have facilitated the union and unification are to be found in the desire to find the thread of the skein even in tangled situations, while making the disorder to become the order of the whole design.
What were the major challenges to achieve the project and how did your team get creatively over them?
The main challenges were the tenacity in convincing the clients and all the operators on the feasibility project technique. My team overcame the challenge by carefully and painstaking studying the executive drawings for the total control of the constructions and executing the project with finesse and perfection.
How would you describe the ‘Elegance and Significance’ of ‘Cassano Home’s project’?
The elegance of the Cassano Home’s environment is to be found in the harmony, the disorder and in the order, and in blending it alternates with sobriety, lightness, brightness, discretion, chic and glamour of the given coordinated furnishings.
What were the reasons for a predominant ‘white’ and minimal interior?
The reasons for white (ivory) and minimal are to be found into the desire of creating an environment bright and full of light as the house is on the top floor. I tried to create such environment that would deliver sensation of being suspended in the clouds and floating in the sky. I already had many elements, such as the view of the city and the landscape, which were not to be countered by contrastive colours or invasive shapes.
Please mention 5 major ‘Sustainability’ features you incorporated in the project.
The five sustainability features are contemporaneity, ecology, energy, functionality and hedonism.
What is the total area of the project, estimated cost and design-to-finish time period of the project?
The total area between the sleeping zone and the living one is about 240 sq. m. The estimated cost of the project is approximately 200,000.00 Euros. From design-to-finish, the project took two years.
What are the various projects 7 Dimensioni Architetti Associati is busy with, in various cities and countries?
I am currently engaged in the production and construction process of a villa and an interior design in San Giovanni Rotondo (FG). I can also recall construction and design of multiple b&b, offices, residential facilities in Pescara, a specific b&b with suite in Ari (Ch), and finally a luxury loft in Milan, all in Italy.
“Smart Cities” have become ‘Inundated Cities’ in recent years. How do you see architecture in cities changing to overcome climate catastrophes?
Respect for nature is a fundamental aspect in order not to have “flooded cities”. The psycho-physical comfort of the individual starts through the rapprochement of man with nature, the greenery, the emptiness and the landscape must be fundamental elements in cities. To overcome climatic disasters, one must be aware that respected with its laws ‘Nature’ comes first, no forcing of construction or implementation in areas of very high risk need to become mandatory by every single nation in the world. We need to design with the right dialogue and respect for climatic and geological conditions.
Flawed Urban Planning and age-old drainage and sewage systems has taken a toll on cities of the world – Your valuable insights to overcome this major issue, so as to make cities flood-proof and livable?
Architecture like urban planning must keep up with the needs and contingents’ problems of one’s time, such as those: sociological, economic, energy, planning, anthropological, and climate change. Changes pre-suppose new solutions with innovative technologies. The mistake that is usually made is to pretend to solve problems with unqualified technology for the existing problems and especially unsustainable ones. The problems related to floods and the livability of cities must be solved with a cultural process of attention to nature, building where it is possible, be aware of rainfall, controlling floods and run-off with advanced systems of the waters. The climate is constantly changing and we can no longer build by excluding nature.
Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?
Narrating architecture in a transversal way with visions that touch on social aspects of man, life and nature are the interesting aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ Architecture is linked to the daily problems and needs of humans. The aspect that I liked the most was precisely the one of telling the story of architecture linked to human issues.
Neuroarchitecture is quickly catching up with all architects around the world. Your opinions on why architects should use NeuroArchitecture.
Neuroarchitecture has always existed for me. The attention to the psycho/physical comfort linked to humans has always been topics taken into consideration by architecture. Today, they are studied more in-depth and in a more scientific way, but in the past, architects knew very well what they transmitted their works to the psyche of humans. It is an important aspect of architecture. It was and it is a welcoming pleasure for this technique, if you dig deeper and deeper into this topic of neuroarchitecture. The philosophy of my studio combines the material aspects with the immaterial-sensory ones and in each intervention we combine the two aspects that can never remain detached.
How would you describe Michele Merla as a leader and a person?
The architect Michele Merla can be described as a person with his own driving feelings, sensitivity and careful on delivering or creating emotions. The leader in me focuses on the diversity of individuals, to their uniqueness and problems. He is also generous and would give everything (even himself) to help and make happy the people he is lucky enough to meet. He does not conceive the sense of violence, discrimination, falsehood, arrogance, presumption, the process of not listening, and the one of dialogue.
As a professional, we start from the individual so there is no detachment. I am professional, serious, honest, punctual, scrupulous, reliable, and one who loves to aim for the maximum with his collaborators. If in harmony, he becomes a friend of adventure rather than an employer, by letting himself be carried away by the creative process and since its realization, he does not like to waste time and stay in sterile situations. Getting the positive part in everything, even in negative things which will be needed to temper your own nature and be treasured in the future.
Please state 5 recent awards’ win by 7 Dimensioni Architetti Associati.
2020: Build Award for Innovation in Contemporary Architectural Design 2020, London, UK;
2013: Second Prize for Award Pida Concept Hotels at the International Architecture Competition – ‘Mell & Resort Wellness’, Ischia, Italy;
2011: Finalist in the International Architecture Competition for ‘Museum Gosta Extension’, Mantta, Finland;
2005: Honorable Mention at the International Architecture Competition ‘Park of Memory’, Foggia, Italy; and
2004: Honorable Mention at the National Architecture Competition ‘Via Rosati’, Foggia, Italy.
Image Courtesy: 7 Dimensioni Architetti Associati
Photographer: Michele Merla