SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan – All photos by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

Design — How many things can be done with the world’s most abundant food: rice? In a remarkable collaboration, CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and the late Italo Rota joined forces with Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito to present SunRICE, The Recipe of Happiness in Brera Botanical Garden.

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

The exhibition transforms the Brera Botanical Garden into an immersive pathway exploring the multiple uses of rice.” Carlo Ratti told Archipanic. Developed for global energy company Eni, SunRICE is open to the public until April 25 as part of the INTERNI Cross Vision exhibition [Orto Botanico di Brera, via Brera 28, Map].

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

The installation consists of a series of geometrical units created from rice husks—the byproduct of rice processing that is usually discarded. Starting from a basic triangular form, the units evoke natural materials’ modular, cellular structure. They also evoke spatial architectures, which can grow within nature and transform to accommodate new functions. The installation is largely composed of silica-based geopolymer RH-GEO, developed by construction material startup Ricehouse, an inert material that hints at a zero-waste production process.

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

Rice is the most widely consumed food in the world. It also has an extensive and profound cultural significance, opening up so many uses and as-yet-unexplored avenues for experimentation.” Explains Carlo Ratti. “As we explore alternative ways to feed the planet’s growing population, so must we research how we can use these materials for sustainable construction.”

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

SunRICE was conceived alongside the late Italo Rota, one of the leading Italian designers of recent decades and a long-standing collaborator of CRA. “Italo was a true innovator,” adds Ratti, “capable not only of giving new answers but of asking himself new questions – the most difficult thing. No single design can sum up the breadth of his creativity, but his visions on circularity have been a profound inspiration as we finalised this project after he left us.”

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

SunRICE, The Recipe of Happiness by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan – Photos by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

SunRICE by Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota and Niko Romito in Milan - Photo by Marco Beck Peccoz, courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.