Terraforma Festival is back to Villa Arconati, the beautiful and majestic mansion located on the outskirts of Milan, for its eighth edition! Held from the 9 to 11 June, 2023, the famous international music festival is dedicated to artistic experimentation and environmental sustainability. This year, Terraforma will be focusing on incubating its community by lowering its capacity and elaborating on the non-club music portion of the program. Suitably, this year’s edition is inspired by Organic Music Society, placing the spotlight on the legendary Don and Moki Cherry whose visionary and collaborative experiments in the art of living were able to reimagine utopia.


To visualize the idea, Terraforma collaborates with Salottobuono, reinterpreting the Dome that Swedish designer Bengt Carling has created for Don and Moki Cherry’s “Utopias & Visions” exhibition back in 1971. Curious about the story behind this project, CAP 74024 shared a lovely conversation on this unique architectural project with the founder of Salottobuono, Matteo Ghidoni.

Inside Bucky Dome 2012 © Salottobuono

Perhaps you’d like to start by telling us a little bit about the project?

Yes, of course. It’s a very special project in the sense that it’s quite different from our usual procedure. In fact, it’s based on a project that was already completed in the 70s by the Swedish designer Bengt Carling that he created for the Don and Moki Cherry’s ‘Utopias & Visions’ exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 1971. The idea I proposed to Terraforma is a sort of archaeological investigation of that project, which was documented but not entirely. I tried to reconstruct the project by carefully emphasizing all the measures and elements. Then I added a few new little elements myself in order to make a new version while being slightly different from the original one. This project is a Dome, a geodesic Dome. It’s based on a very precise geometry construction derived from an icosahedron volume.


What are the new elements that you are adding to the project?

The new elements are basically linked to the way this Dome touches the ground. Instead of having a platform, we attached the main structure – which is made of wood and few nodes – with a concrete bollard called “Panettone”. It’s a typical Milanese design which are commonly used in the streets to limit the traffic. Since the original project was built indoors, the outdoor reconstruction we are doing now is additionally subjected to the wind, the sun and other external factors. These “Panettone” really help on the fixture of the cupola. By doing so, the Dome slightly touches the ground, and makes the cupola looks like it is floating elegantly in the air. Also, since the original project was done in Sweden in the 70s, we have to fix some elements to make the structure fit to the regulations and rules we have in Italy nowadays.

The geodesic dome for Terraforma will be as the home its exhibitions, lectures and workshops, what did you considered when you were designing the Dome?

We considered mainly the size of it, because it has to accommodate quite a lot of people. Another thing we considered is the possibility to hang artworks and other service structure. We have to consider that in June, the weather will be quite warm. Hence, the Dome will be a place providing shade and a cooler environment for the festivalgoers. For this reason, the air circulation is essential. In fact, with the way the Dome hovers over the ground, the air can circulate freely and create a refreshing atmosphere inside the Dome. We want to make it a landmark of the festival.


So how big is the Dome?

The Dome is 12 meters in diameter with a height of 6 meters. According to the fire safety regulations, it can accommodate up to 70 to 80 people.


Could you tell us how does the collaboration began between Salottobuono and Terraforma? And whose idea was it to reinterpret the dome?

It was actually Terraforma’s idea to rebuild the Dome. I proposed them to work with the students of Domus Academy in Milan at the preliminary stage of the project. We organized a short-term workshop where the students and Salottobuono had a chance to study and research little bit on the original project and came up with some ideas. Then we developed the project in our studio together with the original designer of the Dome – Bengt Carling.


How does it feel like to work with students in Domus Academy? Did they offer some useful input for the project?

Yes! Being a very short workshop, we worked intensively on several topics connected to Terraforma Festival, and one of them being the reinterpretation of the Dome. We managed to do the preliminary studies by collecting data and try to gain as much information as possible. It was not an easy task since the project was done in the 80s, and as the project developed, we found out that it became very technical; and the vision of design and elements were not possible to be addressed during the workshop. So, after the first phase brainstorming with the students, I worked with my studio on the development of the structure together with the original designer of the Dome – Bengt Carling.

Artwork in Bucky Dome 2012 © Salottobuono

Dome 1971 © Salottobuono

That’s a fantastic experience to work with Bengt Carling! How was it to work with the original designer together on the reinterpretation of the project?

It was fun! He’s really an energetic and funny guy. I think he’s 80 now. We had a good conversation and exchanged ideas. He then started to send off all the materials about the original project that are essential to the development of the project. Step by step, we collected them and put them into practice. I feel like he was trying to put himself into a condition of experimentation at that time. By reconstruction this Dome, we also feel like going through this experimental process. Thankfully, we were equipped with all the knowledge he generously shared with us.


Don and Moki Cherry had a vision back in the 70s when they organized the Organic Music Society. How did you translate this kind of feeling and energy that they wanted to represent in the recreation of their architectural project?

Well, this project is made of two parts: architecture and the music festival. I am controlling the architectural part. From my side, what I can do in order to generate this kind of energy is to make a structure that is as collective as possible that can be shared by many people and provide them with pleasurable environment. Then there is the another of the project, which involves music, art installation and the crowd. The chemistry between these two parts is the key to make everything work.

Have you ever envisioned how the festival goers will receive to and interact with the architectural structure?

Once the architectural project is complete, we kind of lose control of it. But since I will participate in the festival, I am eager to see what’s going to happen inside the Dome. I believe it all depends on the crowd and on how vibe they will vibe with it.


Where will the Dome be after the festival?

Well, the Dome is a temporary structure, but I think the intention of the organizers is to keep the structure and to rebuild it for the next edition of the Terraforma Festival. Since it will be taken down at the end of the festival, it is very important for us to design the structure to be easily assembled and dismantled. The thin wooden beams and fabric covers are also easy to store and do not take up too much spaces. We also provide them with an instruction manual to rebuild it easily, quickly and feasible for everyone. Since I received help and information from the designer of the original project, I would like to pass our knowledge and result down to the future festival organizers. Together, we keep legacy of Don and Moki Cherry, and the beautiful spirit of the Organic Music Society.

Bucky Dome 2012 © Salottobuono

Interview by Yves Tsou