When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LA STAMPA

Architecture Stars Poised For Radical Shift To Simplicity

Is Zaha Hadid's Burnham Pavilion in Chicago about to look passé?
Is Zaha Hadid's Burnham Pavilion in Chicago about to look passé?
Marco Vallora

VENICE - Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said of academic writers that "they muddy the water, to make it seem deep." Architects, we can say, have been known to do the same.

Let’s think for a moment about what we have been forced to endure over the past decades thanks to an alleged building language that was wooly, muddled, ideological, and unrealistic. Being awkward was a must, and the gullible public bought all this “architectology.”

Well, something might have finally changed. Venice"s 13th International Architecture Biennale kicks off Wednesday, running until November 25. The clean design, the display at the Arsenale venue -- more than the pavilions in the cold Giardini -- give the sense that the ideology of the past decades has arrived at its inevitable end.

In the words of Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni: "No xè ghe ne podeva pì" -- we couldn’t stand all this anymore.

I’m not saying that after all the unrealistic and ridiculous proclamations of the wannabe avant-garde, the storm of the crisis and the restoration was needed to sweep away all the allegedly progressive illusions. But a healthy breeze of simple wisdom can heal the wounds which were opened by the wasted Utopian ambitions that were bound to go nowhere.

In the introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition, the president of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta, criticizes the nomadic drift of architecture which injured many previous exhibitions. The president admits that in the past we had to swallow a lot, recalling the deadly paradoxes by Aaron Betsky who claimed that a building is the grave of architecture.

It is immediately clear that the title of this edition, Common Ground, works as an axe without any excuses.

Moving forward, facing backwards

Common Ground means finding a shared and requited language, a musical resonance. No more of Archistars’ remote works. Let’s find a connection, a ground zero, some basic shapes. This primordial language doesn’t accept divas’ vain solos anymore and their hysterical desire to be the center of attention.

“Here, there’s no room for architects, only for architecture,” said the director David Chipperfield, with his ironic Charlie Chaplin-esque smile. He means that architecture needs a joint effort, a real sense of the urban context, humbleness towards sources and influences. Not Harold Bloom’s anxiety of influence, but a long awaited sincere public outing about sources of inspiration and hidden passions.

Even the diva of shapes, Zaha Hadid admits her debts towards the pioneers Felix Campana and Heinz Isler’s fluid tent structures. Peter Eisenman works on Giovanni Battista Piranesi while Peter Märkli uses Hans Josephsohn and Alberto Giacometti’s human sculptures. We have never seen so many references to Piranesi, Palladio, Terragni and Libera. This Biennale, though, is not historicist or didactic.

The Italian Pavilion, which is curated by Luca Zevi, son of the famous architect Bruno Zevi, is showcasing “Made in Italy” products starting with the first Italian computer built by the Olivetti factory in 1959. Fulvio Irace is retracing the Milan of Giò Ponti, Caccia Dominioni, Gardella, and Magistretti. It is not nostalgia, though. It is hard rethinking and lucid memory.

In the Catalan and Balearic Pavilion, the sculptor Jorge Oteiza’s words explain the spirit of this exhibition well. He says that artists are like oarsmen, who move forward while paddling backward.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest