In January 2000 Ian Ritchie Architects were announced the winners of an open international competition for Milan 2001 III Millennium Segno Luminoso. This new light monument was officially inaugurated by Milan’s mayor, Mr. Albertini, 12 months later on January 18th 2001. Alba draws her symbolism from Milan and humanises the Piazza Duca D’Aosta. The weaving together of the beauty of trapped light, and the complete light-powered personal communicator incorporating huge optical memory storage has inspired us to propose a woven fabric of changing light which communicates Milan’s world renown as the centre of fashion and design style, quality and innovation. Alba is visible during the day, the curve concentrating the emitted light, and her changing light is scintillating at night. Springing like the water from the ground she conducts wavelengths of visible light. She is light that bends and she moves gently in the wind. She is a sunshade and she seeks to humanise the Piazza. Alba is an image which conveys the idea of the hand of the weaver, the designer, the screen world and the deluge of information we have to live with today. Her underlying metaphors are made manifest. She is made from randomly fractured optical glass fibre and woven with fine stainless steel wire to produce a unique light emitting fabric.
Alba reflects the spirit of our age in which light is image, material and the information carrier of the 21st Century. The photonic age is here, and through optical communications and lasers, the synthesis of telephone, television and computer is imminent. Alba di Milano is absolutely unique, and will imprint in the memory an unforgettable image that is both beautiful and emotional. We have synthesised optical glass fibre, one of the most perfect solids ever manufactured, with poetry of intent to give Milan an icon, Alba, announcing the third millennium. A scandal erupted in the press eighteen months later, and despite assurances from Milan City Council that it would only be moved to a new site once approved by Ian Ritchie, it was dismantled a few months after. It lies is in a warehouse in Milan.