Carlo Ratti Associati Designs Carbon Fibre Museum
Carbon Fibre Museum Carlo Ratti Associati

Carlo Ratti Associati Designs Carbon Fibre Museum

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and architect Italo Rota unveil the design of MAE Museum, an

International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and architect Italo Rota unveil the design of MAE Museum, an exhibition space dedicated to carbon fiber, a material that is central to the future of manufacturing. The museum itself will be built largely out of carbon fiber, both new and recycled, pursuing a circular approach to design. The exhibition path will employ robotics to guide visitors through the world’s largest archive of acrylic fiber technologies, documenting scientific advancements in the development of carbon fiber, as well as parallel changes in society and fashion. Developed for leading machinery manufacturing company MAE, the new museum is located in Piacenza, Italy.

Carbon fiber is a lightweight, highly resistant material used in everything from aerospace to the automotive industry to bicycle manufacturing. It is generated from acrylic fiber, similar to the one commonly used in clothing, and then transformed into carbon fiber through a complex chemical process, where the machines of MAE are world’s leaders. Similarly, the MAE museum’s exhibition path is conceived as a twofold journey from the past into the future: from the heyday of synthetic fibers in postwar European clothing, to the latest breakthroughs in chemical and engineering research. While the museum is located inside a renovated warehouse, most interior components are built with acrylic and carbon fiber, including the entrance doors which open like a curtain.

In the first section of the museum, visitors encounter a robotic archive warehouse, lit with dazzling white light and filled with MAE’s historical documents. A series of mechanical arms move along the walls to extract photos, technical dossiers, and campaigns from the brand’s 50-year history, and bring these items to a raised central platform, where visitors can sit and browse through them. After that, visitors go through a long corridor where they can observe the process by which acrylic fiber is transformed into carbon fiber. This is followed by the second section of the museum dedicated to the use of fiber in contemporary industry. Within a black room enriched by an immersive installation, a set of interactive artifacts explores the experimental applications of carbon fiber and shows the most innovative prototypes made with it by car-making and aerospace companies.

The MAE Museum is located at MAE’s Italian headquarters at a one-hour drive from Milan, catering to different audiences including the general public, schools and chemistry and engineering specialists. In early July 2021, MAE announced a collaboration with Leonardo, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, to build a 17-million-euro pilot plant at this same location, which will produce innovative materials for use in the fields of aerospace, defense, and security.

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