What Ever Happened To Italian Architecture?

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Symposium at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma
October 15–16, 2010

curated by Reto Geiser

The DEPART Foundation and the Istituto Svizzero di Roma (ISR) present WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ITALIAN ARCHITECTURE, the first installment in a series of planned biennial symposia that aim to explore the productive intersections and overlaps between art, architecture, and design, will take place at the Swiss Institute in Rome October 15-16, 2010. This two-day symposium will bring together emerging and established voices to discuss the current state of Italian architecture.

In the second half of the twentieth century, such singular figures as Aldo Rossi, Vittorio Gregotti, or Manfredo Tafuri, and collaborative practices such as Archizoom or Superstudio, not only shaped the architectural culture within Italy, but also took a prominent position on the stage of international discourse. Italian architecture gradually disappeared from the limelight as commercially driven forms of building replaced politically motivated manifestos and bold architectural visions in the advent of postmodernism.

How has Italian architecture since developed? What does Italian architecture mean today? What is the background against which architecture is currently produced in Italy?

An inherent part of every society, architecture works as an indicator of political, economic, and cultural conditions, as well as their transformations over time. It is consequently a goal of the symposium to consider the architectural production in Italy and the role of the architect with respect to a larger socio-cultural context.

Architects, architectural historians, and critics from both Italy and abroad, will come together at the Swiss Institute in Rome (ISR) to present and debate their intellectual positions and practical approaches to Italian architecture from the past to the present.

Alberto Alessi, Sandy Attia, Pippo Ciorra, Fabrizio Gallanti, Francesco Garofalo, Filip Geerts, Joseph Grima, Mark Lee, Elli Mosayebi, Matteo Scagnol, Paolo Scrivano, Martino Stierli, Pier Paolo Tamburelli, and Mark Wasiuta will look at the last sixty years of Italian architecture, considering contemporary developments and positions in order to debate future potentials.

The first part of the symposium will be dedicated to exceptional initiatives, institutions, and projects that evolved from the early to the late twentieth century. The second part will offer a platform to discuss the work of emerging voices in Italian architecture. In a concluding roundtable discussion, participants will consider the interrelations between design and policy, specifically focusing on the future role of the architect. Participants will frame their discussion within a larger historical and international context, comparing current Italian architectural production to developments worldwide. From tracing socio-political and cultural characteristics of contemporary Italian architecture to uncovering the political realities that serve as the backdrop of the country’s cultural production, it is the goal of this two-day symposium to foster critical discourse and enable open exchange about contemporary Italian architectural culture.

Admission is free. The programme is here below.

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David Sarkisyan’ office

David Sarkisyan was the director of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture. He died on Jan. 7 at a Munich hospital at the age of 62. “Wedged behind an ornate desk cluttered with Soviet-era souvenirs, architectural tchotchkes and ashtrays, he was constantly fulminating against the decrepit state of that city’s landmarks, enthusing about a drawing he had discovered buried somewhere in the museum’s archives, making introductions among the architects, historians and socialites who constantly wandered in and out, or pleading over the phone with the few journalists and government officials he felt he could trust” (via New York Times). This is his office. Take a look. (lmg)

“The little things are infinitely the most important”. Sherlock Holmes