Architecture of a Wide View with Matilde Pietrabissa

Kelly King
4 min readNov 1, 2023

For architect and interior architectural designer Matilde Pietrabissa, fulfillment has always come at the intersect of the past and the future. Her prior work attests to her staunch commitment to being creative and environmentally conscious while her engagement with the public and next generation of architects displays her self-view as a bridge to what could be possible. Having been a resident of many different parts of the world, Matilde’s firsthand exposure to the positive effects of her work on people of varied cultures has served to fuel an enthusiasm for what she does. Imparting the benevolent potential of architecture to those eager to understand is a passionate pursuit for this daughter of Italy/citizen of the world.

The passion she is known for is immediately evident when Matilde is questioned about her focus on her preference for projects and materials with a low environmental impact. She remarks, “This is something I feel deeply about. Sustainability is at the core of contemporary architecture. It represents an exciting challenge and a paradigm shift in how we conceive and execute architectural projects. I appreciate that this compels architects to think innovatively and creatively. It encourages us to explore new materials, construction methods, and technologies. Sustainable designs are inherently more durable, resilient, and surprisingly often lead to cost savings over the long term. My generation has grown up in an era marked by environmental awareness, witnessing the far-reaching consequences of unsustainable practices. We’ve seen the depletion of natural resources, the impact of climate change, and the urgent need for a more sustainable future. This has instilled in us a profound sense of responsibility for the planet and the well-being of future generations.”

Matilde giving a lecture

Since her early days with Paraguay based Gabinete de Arquitectura, known for their Golden Lion award–winning design, Matilde has continually presented these core values. Among her numerous contributions to Banco Amambay was a vegetation based system of purifying the air for this enclosed space. Conversely, the Casa Wabi Composting Pavilion in Mexico uses structural elements to create a space where interior elements exist in an outdoor space. Reclaimed brick parts and metal reinforced concrete was used to fashion visually stunning elements that mimic parts of a seaworthy vessel, held aloft by a series of interconnecting cables. These structures as well as numerous others testify to the foundational principles Matilde holds so dear. Ms. Pietrabissa relates, “Sustainable design is a moral imperative, a reflection of our values, and a conscious effort to minimize our ecological footprint. It’s a way to align our work as architects with our ethical stance, contributing to a healthier, more resilient planet.”

Concern over the future is futile unless the wisdom gained is imparted. Matilde will serve as a respondent in the AFFIRMATIONS series at Columbia GSAPP in an effort to elicit conversation among the public and those who would follow her path. This eight-month series of discussions will bring together a diverse array of voices, including designers, researchers, planners, preservationists, and activists, to explore and affirm how to navigate the multifaceted challenges presented by climate change, ecological degradation, societal transformations, bodily well-being, and technological advancements. AFFIRMATIONS is set to feature a lineup of distinguished guests, including celebrated visual artist Olalekan “Lek” Jeyifous, esteemed Columbia University professor specializing in gender studies, Jack Halbestam, accomplished Japanese architect Fuminori Nousaku, and the London-based artist and writer James Bridle, among others. Matilde’s participation in AFFIRMATIONS represents a commitment to engaging in critical conversations that challenges the status quo and paves the way for innovative and transformative approaches to architecture, design, and the broader built environment. Ms. Pietrabissa will also serving as a guest speaker/juror at Syracuse University during the critical midterm assessments of the students’ projects. Offering these students the benefit of her real world experience with a contemporary perspective, Matilde hopes to inspire and encourage those who are embarking on their own architectural paths, emphasizing the importance of a global perspective in the field of architecture.

Matilde in Venice

Matilde is mindful of her ability to support and facilitate the creativity of artists. The designs she created with Gabinete de Arquitectura for artist Fredi Casco’s Fundacion Texo exhibit this concept. The upcoming collaboration Matilde is undertaking with Rocio Crosetto Brizio in Brooklyn is the most current example. Their vision is founded in a collective belief in the power of art and culture to enrich lives and strengthen communities and is inspired by Brooklyn’s rich artistic heritage and reputation as a melting pot of diverse talents and perspectives. Being amazed at the structures she has been so instrumental in creating, it might be possible to miss the fact that connectivity is at the root of everything Matilde Pietrabissa does. The way that humans are effected by a space, the way that these spaces effect their surroundings, the way that this nonverbal dialogue effects the course of the planet; these are elements of a larger composition. The architect herself denotes the personal connection she receives from the process stating, “The most rewarding aspect of my work as an architect and designer is the profound sense of fulfillment that comes from creating spaces and environments that enhance the quality of life for individuals and communities. It’s about the tangible impact that architecture has on people’s daily experiences and well-being.”



Kelly King

An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.