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  • Writer's pictureArchitectural Engineering Consultants

"Designing healthier places is vital to ensure the future of cities":

Introducing Alessandro Mangano, Italian Building Engineer and Architect, Partner at AEC, alumnus of the Politecnico di Milano, and co-founder of the Italian Cambodian Arts project.

Masterplan MT © AEC
Alessandro Mangano
Alessandro Mangano

Would you be able to discuss with us where it all starts?

My journey began with a deep interest for the build environment and how it coexist with our environment, and a passion for functional and innovative spaces. I was also fascinated the way building and cities shape our experience and interaction. Today, we are a collective of international designers working from a network of studios who dedicate their time and creativity to the firm. Projects come to life with everyone’s contribution, during our design processes we engage people for many culture, diverse backgrounds broaden our vision and feed our strength.

What are your areas of expertise?

When you study at the Politecnico di Milano, you get to explore the realms of architecture, engineering, design, and so much more. It's a unique blend of humanistic approach and culture that seamlessly integrates these diverse fields. For me, it's impossible to separate these different worlds as they all come together to create something truly extraordinary.

How would you keep your design philosophy working in different contexts?

I approach each context with an open mind and humble approach, as the project conditions are always dissimilar, I don’t have a one size fits method for all projects. Our approach is to develop a relationship with each context, and I believe that one of the main aspects of architecture is the relationship with climate. Also, respecting the historical and cultural significance of different locations is essential. I would engage with local communities, and collaborate with local experts to ensure our designs integrate seamlessly with the existing fabric while still reflecting our design philosophy. By incorporating sustainable design principles, such as passive cooling techniques, strategic orientation or renewable energy systems, I would ensure our designs respond effectively to the specific environmental challenges.

In which type of project would you choose to showcase your sign?

I would choose a mixed-used project, that allow us for direct impact with local community, sustainable development and fostering a sense of that place.

Why is it important to you to promote arts between Italy and Cambodia?

The Italian Cambodian Arts project was established with prof. Carlo Santoro and Dr. Gabriele Faja in response to a growing desire among community members to foster creativity, promote dialogue, and provide a platform for artistic expression in Cambodia. Promoting arts exchange between Italy and Cambodia holds significant importance.

The IC Arts aims to create opportunities for collaboration and a deeper understanding of each other's history, traditions, and artistic heritage. These connections will not only inspire artists from both countries to explore new creative horizons together but also strengthen the bond between the two nations. The collaboration and appreciation of each other's cultural contributions can enrich the global artistic community and empower social and economic development.

Among your design projects, can you name some closest to you?

Some projects come to life in a flash of inspiration, while others take their sweet time to bloom. But no matter how they come to be, each one holds a special place in our hearts.

Metropolis Tower © AEC

The first project I remember with pleasure is the Metropolis tower, The design demonstrates the ambitious integration of private development and a publicly accessible active park oriented urban community for Phnom Penh. The contemporary tower was designed as a finely detailed structure that blends sustainability with natural and cultural references.

Another project that I am attached is KH retreat, the hospitality proposal has been designed as a series of retreats connected through tropical gardens and walkways to create a community-focused experience. The retreat aims to combine elements of the traditional Cambodian dwelling with others elements that make it the idea of attractive, healthy and sustainable design. We designed TW pavilions complex’s in Italy, the site is divided into separate volumes, which are connected through circulation routes some indoor and some open-air. The shifted oriented and fragmented volumes, are carefully planned to support functionality and framed view through visual journey that blend inside and outside, the natural and human touch.

Italian Architecture is recognized all over the world, however do you see any interesting projects in Cambodia that you think could point to an inspiring direction for architects at this time?

Design concepts that resonate with Italian culture may not necessarily have the same impact in Asia. A full immersion into the local culture and society is crucial in order to understand the specific needs and aspirations of the people. Without this understanding, the architecture may not fulfill its purpose. A deep research and analysis become fundamental tools in the design process, enabling designers to incorporate elements that are sensitive to the local culture, traditions, and values. Cambodian Architecture, is characterized by its intricate design and showcase the rich architectural heritage. Designers can draw inspiration by incorporating elements such as natural stone/wooden carving, the use of local materials, incorporated natural ventilation showcasing how sustainable design can be integrated with contemporary design experience. Also, exploring the spiritual and cultural significance behind tropical and vernacular architecture to create meaningful designs.

Why is it important to you to use locally-sourced materials?

By sourcing materials locally, we reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and minimize the environmental impact caused by long-distance shipping. We establish relationships within the community and creating a sense of pride and connection to the region. Using locally-sourced materials is a way for us to live up to these values and fulfill our mission of creating a positive impact on both the environment and the communities we operate in.

What is the most amazing design you have ever seen? What is your project philosophy?

In my opinion, the most amazing design is the Nature. Our design process begins with extensive research and site analysis to deeply understand the genius loci. Genius loci refers to the spirit of a place. We study the history, culture, and natural elements that define the place. In our project philosophy, we believe that understanding and respecting the unique character and atmosphere of a location is crucial. Designing for people is a critical aspect of architecture, and it becomes even more complex when an architect from one culture is designing for another.


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