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ALUSION™ stablilized aluminium foam was used in the new Milan venue of Fondazione Prada, the contemporary arts and culture organization established by Prada. Artwork: Cast of Apollo of Kassel figure, Serial Classic exhibition (2015).

Lightweight and strong, with excellent sound absorbing properties, ALUSION™ is suited to a wide range of exterior and interior applications. Photography: Attilio Maranzano, courtesy of Prada Foundation.

ALUSION cladding from Robertson Facade Systems

Converted from a century-old distillery in an industrial area on the southern edge of Milan, the new venue of Fondazione Prada is a visually striking building featuring a variety of unique exhibition spaces, a “haunted house” and a cinema. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas of the Dutch practice OMA, the materially rich venue incorporates 6,800 square metres of ALUSION, a stabilized aluminium foam with virtually limitless design possibilities.

For Koolhaas, one of the most important goals for the project was to transcend the usual spatial typologies of art display by creating a great diversity of spaces. The highly versatile ALUSION, used on the facade, ceilings, rooftop and on all interior walls, was an integral part of achieving this. Produced by innovative material company Cymat Technologies and distributed by Robertson Facade Systems, ALUSION stabilized aluminium foam is visually striking, with a modern, dramatic appearance. It is produced by injecting air into molten aluminium containing a fine dispersion of ceramic particles. The ceramic particles stabilize the bubbles formed by the air, much like dry cocoa powder stabilizes bubbles when it is added to milk.

This process creates a material that is strong and lightweight, which is then formed into panels. Depending on the density of the materials used, ALUSION can be produced with small, medium or large “cells.” The surface of the material can either be left in its solid form, as produced, or it can undergo surface preparations that provide many different appearances, from a solid “shimmering” look to a translucent “water froth” look. The various versions of ALUSION can be used for both interior and exterior applications, as is the case at the Fondazione Prada centre. Recyclable, lightweight and with the structural qualities of aluminium, ALUSION offers a wealth of design potential.