Studio Tropicana, Switzerland and Italy: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023

Based in Switzerland and Italy, Studio Tropicana is part of the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, our annual round-up of exciting emerging architecture studios

white minimalist interior of blue bird kitchen by studio tropicana
(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

With one foot in Italy and another in Switzerland, Studio Tropicana is a young architecture practice, formed in 2020 by Martina Palocci. Now, the studio has joined the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe. The practice's work is highlighted here through one of its recent residential works, an extension in Italy, 009_Blue Bird Kitchen. 

open plan inside Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

Who: Studio Tropicana

'As an emerging architecture firm, we are motivated by the opportunity to push the boundaries of what is possible and create something truly unique,' says Palocci. 'Architecture has the power to shape the way we live, work, and interact with each other, and our desire is to have a positive impact on society through designing spaces that are beautiful, functional, and sustainable.' To achieve this, the architect and her team draw on multidisciplinary references, from space to art, film and design. 'It is through [a] continuous osmotic process [among disciplines] that we can create futuristic designs, where every element is in balance, properly orchestrated, and part of a timeless language,' she explains. 

open interior at Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

The studio is young, but has a growing portfolio and the director has valuable background at renowned architecture studio Herzog de Meuron. However, 'a "nomadic vision" of architecture is our biggest influence,' she says. 'We value collaboration and draw on our experiences in different countries, seeking the unknown. Our design process combines traditional methods with new technologies for innovative results. We experiment with new methods and technologies while valuing tradition and experience gained from working in world-renowned architectural firms. Our nomadic approach aims to create functional spaces that reflect cultural richness and diversity, making them more inclusive, meaningful, and relevant to a wider range of people.'

stairs at Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

What: 009_Blue Bird Kitchen

Set near the centre of Varese in Italy, 009_Blue Bird Kitchen (also known as BBK) is the first major residential completion by the emerging Studio Tropicana. The scheme, belonging to a blogger and creative director that works from home, is nestled in quiet suburbs, bordering on rural and occupies what used to be a hay barn. The architects were approached to redesigned the client's daily space, enhancing the home with a workshop and flexible studio to support their business. 

round window inside Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

The architects worked with the surrounding structures' outlines and overall character, introducing at the same time a contemporary element through bold geometries. The interior was left open and fluid, using materials that feel modern and sharp, such as white aggregate cement flooring and white painted OSB wood buffer panels between the roof beams. The concept of refined 'simplicity' was central in the design, the team explains. '[We begin] with the idea that often the simplest things are the most profound, and unexpectedly, for this reason they are timeless,' say Palocci. 

Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana, staircase

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 23rd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo, Ecuador, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture. 

side exterior at Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson)

bespoke metalwork at Blue Bird Kitchen by Atelier Tropicana

(Image credit: Mikael Olsson) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).