This tenth edition of the Rassegna (Review), now a substantial repertory of works of architecture built in Italy over the course of almost two decades, is not simply another collection of projects but above all an occasion for looking beyond the present into the future of Italian architecture. This intention produced the idea of publishing five essays by the curators of the Italian Pavilion from the past ten years of the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The texts offer an updated look at the results of the research conducted on each of these occasions. The objective is to begin a discussion, to stimulate comparisons, to reflect on the status and role of architecture against the backdrop of the social, economic and institutional crisis plaguing not only Italy, but the entire globalised world. In this situation, there is no doubt that Italy presents various anomalies. The first is tied to the drastic diminution in finances and the consequent reduction in resources necessary to care for and develop the territory in a nation whose geography, density of settlement, wealth and variety of historic-artistic and environmental heritage demand continuous intervention. The second, which cannot be emphasised strongly enough in relation to the first, is the paradoxical disinterest of the ruling class in the role of architecture as a fundamental activity that modifies the territory; an activity capable of generating social and environmental wellbeing through quality and beauty and of becoming a key economic driver. The third atypical condition, as Cino Zucchi notes, dates back to the unusual relationship between Italian architectural culture and the “Modern”. A relationship that forces the design of the new to constantly confront and negotiate pre-existing historic and environmental conditions. It also requires a “capacity to interpret and incorporate previous states which appears to be the most profound trait of Italian architectural culture over the past one hundred years”. Today, this distinctive trait makes the research pursued by Italian architecture particularly topical; a line of research focused on building within the built, through grafts, completions, re-stitchings and restorations, focused on urban and environmental renewal. One of the key aspects, for which we can only hope for an inversion in current trends, involves the safeguarding of the territory and environment with the intention of preserving its quality for future generations; this generates a request for a renewed awareness by the architect, called upon to return to an original set of obligations and the “imperative of responsibility” theorised by Hans Jonas. How can we change direction and what objectives should architects focus on now and in the future? The five authors analyse and define different aspects in their essays, opening windows, some only partially, though in all cases capable of offering a mosaic of themes and scenarios, from which to extrapolate key issues that help composing a manifesto of Italian architecture.
ARCIPELAGO ITALIA. A VIEW ON THE FUTURE OF ARCHITECTURE - Pg. 8
AN ARCHITECTURE OF FLOWS: ACTING FOR THE COMMON GOOD - Pg. 12
NEW SKIN FOR THE OLD CEREMONY: THE CHANGING FORMS OF ITALIAN ARCHITECTURAL CULTURE- Pg. 16
ARCHITECTURE IN AN ERA OF DRIFT - Pg. 22
“ITALIA/AILATI”. A MANIFESTO FOR THE FUTURE – Pg. 28
The new home of the ARPAE in Ferrara by MCA represents the perfect synthesis between the form and language of architecture and the elevated performance standards demanded to zero emissions buildings. Winner of the international design competition organised in 2006, the project is the direct result of precise objectives declared by the client from the outset: imagining a building that would represent an example of quality architecture with a low environmental impact.Five thousand square metres of new offices and laboratories are divided between two volumes set around a large central void working as a climatic garden and hosting the agency’s activities dedicated to the public.
Omodeo 57 is one of the projects completed for the City of Bari as part of the Integrated Programme to Requalify Peripheral Areas (PIRP) of San Marcello, a neighbourhood developed without any planning guidelines and progressively absorbed by the rest of the city. Despite the presence of such centres of excellence as the campus of the Polytechnic, the area presents all of the characteristics of a periphery: environmental degradation, absence of public spaces, scarce maintenance of buildings and spaces and housing depravation. The project occupies a strategic position, between the university’s botanical gardens and the Villa Capriati park. It consists of two rectangular volumes, oriented according to the street network. The tallest building, nine-storeys in height, faces Via Omodeo, while a four-storey building sits along Via Colajanni. They converge and connect in a podium that absorbs the lower levels and takes the form of the lot.
The small town of Favara, situated a few kilometres from the Valle dei Templi, has recently become a pulsating centre of culture, architecture and renewal. This is the context that gave us the Alba Palace Hotel, the city’s first hospitality structure. The Hotel was completed in 2017 by Ragusa-based Architrend Architecture to respond to the growing demands of tourism and, at the same time, to rehabilitate one of the many abandoned buildings in the historic centre. The project for the hotel was driven by the desire to recover Palazzo Piscopo, a nineteenth century building in an advanced state of decay through a combination of restoration and new construction, conservation and valorisation. The original layout was left largely unaltered on the first three levels, occupied by the reception area and twenty hotel rooms, while the uppermost level was demolished in order to build a glass pavilion hosting a lounge bar and suite facing the Chiesa Madre and the Castle.
In 2005 the historic Magazzino Vini (Wine Warehouse) facing Trieste’s waterfront was acquired by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Trieste. Renovated and refurbished, it was opened to the public in 2017 as a new Eataly store. Designed by the Florentine office Archea Associati, the project conserved and refurbished the perimeter walls of the historic construction and inserted a new volume inside them, entirely glazed and totally autonomous. An imposing excavation, well below sea level, provided new floor area without altering the profile of the original building. A total of 3,600 sq m on four levels, two entirely hypogeal, host new functions inside a volume with a concrete core and a translucid envelope, whose layout reflects the rhythms of the historic stone façade. Parking is located at the lowest level, entirely underground, while the half-basement, ground and first floors are all used as retail spaces.
In Turin’s Aurora neighbourhood was recently inaugurated the new Lavazza headquarters designed by Cino Zucchi. Situated along Corso Palermo, just outside the city’s orthogonal Roman grid, the building renounces the typical composition of closed blocks to create a unique urban complex. In agreement with the City, Lavazza sponsored the requalification of an abandoned industrial area, the former home of an ENEL power plant, by organising an invited design competition. Constructions with an historic value were preserved and refurbished. Coupled with new constructions and new outdoor spaces, the architects created a multifunctional complex of offices, a gourmet restaurant, a bistrot and the Lavazza Museum and historic Archives. The former power plant, already home to the Institute of Applied Arts and Design (IAAD), now also hosts a cultural centre inside the wide hall once occupied by machinery where the neighbourhood and the entire city can hold meetings and events..
For the Canaletto district, the new Beghi Civic Library in La Spezia represents an occasion for architectural and social renewal. Respecting the wishes of local government, the new building responds to the request for a functional library and the need to provide the city with a multifunctional space dedicated to culture and free time. The site is situated along a high-speed artery linking up with the highway, a trajectory of entry into the city. Together with the sports hall, a multiplex cinema and the Pala Expo, the new library completes this quadrant of the city with a clearly tertiary vocation and favours the creation of a network of different spaces of social activity.
The new Prada garden factory in Valvigna, in the province of Arezzo, is a gentle and harmonious insertion within the landscape. The design reinterprets the concept of the factory in a composed and elegant project that establishes a symbiotic relationship with its natural surroundings. The approach adopted by the architect Guido Canali is strongly focused on the relationship with context. His work constantly searches for an integration between landscape and architecture. The rigorous, clean and essential composition is based on a simple aggregation of standard elements: four volumes, slightly offset from one another are set into the natural slope of a hill at a 45°corner to the adjacent A1 motorway. The volumes appear to slide, as if on rails, along a series of longitudinal walls that invade the internal spaces in different ways.
Valdaora, a Trentino town in the Val Pusteria, is home to one of the year’s most award-winning nursery schools. Designed by feld72 Architekten, the school is coolly inserted between traditional Tirolean homes and situated behind the parish church. The design skilfully exploits the sloping terrain of the site. The architects adopted the theme of the fence as the leitmotif of the entire urban structure, which alternates public spaces with private courtyards. The result is an original solution that transforms an existing restriction into the driving force behind the design. The entire composition is generated by the manipulation of the wall delimiting the site: the perimeter wall dilates and unfolds to contain the school and its garden. The result is a polygonal morphology that thickens and gently rises upward as it moves north and welcomes the classrooms, while to the south it grows thinner and drops down to contain technical spaces and become the spine and fence defining a large courtyard.
The Primo Levi high school in Montebelluna, situated along the banks of the Brentella canal, was inaugurated in 2015. The project was designed by the architect Mauro Galantino. The plan of the school is a juxtaposition of three volumes whose composition defines a comb-like plan. The main volume, four storeys in height including a half-basement, is a prismatic form whose compactness is ruptured by the emergence of the volumes of the library, auditorium and services that define a large entry portico along the north-west elevation. Two other constructions are set perpendicular to this volume, one at the centre and the other along the northern edge. The first, with its regular shape, is a two-storey block of classrooms. The second volume, also two-storeys high, contains two levels of classrooms and a triple-height gymnasium and presents a more decomposed appearance.
At the turn of the century, the church of the Holy Trinity in Annunciation was a monumental unfinished project. Designed in 1765 by the architect Carlo Murena, it was never completed; the demolition of a wing of the church in 1980 and the serious damage suffered during the 1997 earthquake sealed its abandonment and deterioration. That is, until 2003, when the City of Foligno organised a competition to convert the church into a museum and transform a space of religion into an art gallery. The result is the “Centro Italiano di Arte Contemporanea” designed by Guendalina Salimei and her office T-Studio. This heritage recovery project gives a new function and breathes life back into a forgotten work of architecture, by introducing a new contemporary language within an existing building and physically re-establishing ties with its ancient materials. T-Studio’s design reinterprets the interior spaces by focusing on the existing and introducing specific and minute interventions. Micro-injections of contemporary elements are inserted into the original neoclassical organism. The final result is a retrofit of the existing and the construction of new volumes that complete and strengthen the structures and, on the other hand, provide new circulation.
The Villa Val di Rose student dormitory, completed in 2013 and awarded a mention at the 2014 Premio Architettura Territorio Fiorentino, is the result of an attentive study and design by Ipostudio, in collaboration with the University Technical Office, which dates back to 2002. The project consists of two interventions: the conservative restoration of an historic construction and the construction of a new building in an open area beside the villa. The addition consists of three volumes: two converging oblong parallelepipeds containing apartments and common areas and a third more compact parallelepiped containing a library and technical spaces and serving as a hinge between the other two. A one-storey building facing Via Lazzerini hosts a number of services facing the courtyard. The building has a silent presence, represented by a stone wall that, similar to a “shell”, folds back to wrap the service block and provide access to the roof.
- Modernità ibrida. Omaggio a Lina Bo Bardi dopo il centenario - Pag. 110
– Angelo Di Castro nel professionismo romano del secondo dopoguerra . Pag. 116
– “Colori e forme nella casa d’oggi” . La mostra e il catalogo del ’57 in una iniziativa di ANE Como – Pag. 121
LIBRI – Pag. 126
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