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Paolo Devescovi
Free lance architect since 1990. He worked as associate architect with Emilio Ambasz & Ass. - New York at many important architectural projects as a 600,000 square foot office complex in Hilversum, a new 5-hectare park plus another 5 hectares of existing land for residential construction in Montecarlo, some other projects in Italy: a new marina in Bellaria, the master plan of the coastal area in Barletta (Apulia), a luxury SPA-hotel up the mountains of the New York State (Highmount - Catskill Park) and recently a Hotel complex in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia. Since 1991 he is in partnership with Giiulia Liandriscina and actively worked, sharing the working spaces of his Office in Bologna, with the colleagues Anastasio Kiumurgis and Carlotta Lo Verde. From 2005 he is also art teacher in public school.

 

 


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Paolo’s opinion as architect. The Basilica di San Petronio - Bologna
Actually, as architect I would like to propose doing an international competition open to all architects of the world for completing the façade of the Basilica di San Petronio in a contemporary style or anyway in an architectonic style which may have a dialogue with the existing part rising back to Renaissance.
This operation would have the aim of completing an unfinished part of an existing architecture and in the same time it should leave a sign of our contemporary culture in that place for future generations. This is an operation that has been done in every era since the times of ancient Romans when, for example, a new forum was built over the previous existing one to affirm the power of a new emperor placed in authority. François Mitterrand has done a similar operation when he funded the construction of the New Louvre and its highly discussed glass pyramid. In Paris the flux of cultural development in the centuries is clearly marked: who would consider now the Tour Eiffel as a horrible modern thing in the middle of a beautiful ancient urban context?
Anyway my proposal has not found the favour of the administration as current tendency is to maintain unaltered all the remains of the Italian glorious past of the town. Of course this is a sacred point of view but I think the true reason of the conservatism of our contemporary architectural culture is that it stands in awe of the glorious past.
You can also see the exemplary case of the Masieri House, facing the Canal Grande in Venice. In 1952, Frank Lloyd Wright was charged to plan a new building replacing the old one (quite anonymous indeed). An intense debate arose if it is a right thing to build something with a modern appeal along the Canal Grande. At the end, nothing happened and the Wright’s plan remained in a drawer witnessed by dozens of architectural drawings and so Venice had lost the possibility to have a sign of continuity of its glorious past.
I can understand how astonishing would have been a glass and iron piece of architecture aside the marvellous buildings facing Canal Grande but as a matter of fact, future generations will find no traces of our contemporary times. The glory of Venice and all historic centres of Italy, Bologna included, are now held by tourists seeking signs of a cultural heritage they probably have not in their countries. This is great and desirable but will leave no sign in the history. So the wide Bologna historic centre is undisputedly appearing like it was centuries of years ago. In the nineteen century the tendency was already addressed toward the strict conservatism witnessed by the Alfonso Rubbiani’s work.
Now contemporary architecture, when rarely funded, is relegated to the suburban areas of the town. One example for all in Bologna is the New Municipality Office Complex, by Mario Cucinella, which is worth a visit also for the nice restaurants and bars around the ground level (Piazza Liber Paradisus).

Your opinions are welcome.


Paolo’s opinion as architect. The Two Towers - Bologna
In medieval times Bologna was spread of towers similar to the two ones now existing in town (Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda). Images of the incredible look of the town with more than hundred towers are still in the ancient printings and witness how architecture is a mean to leave a sign of power and importance on the territory: towers had not a particular defensive reason to exist but they just were built to enhance the importance and witness wealth of each noble family that ordered their construction. Such incredible “phallic competition” can be related to the contents I already expressed above in this page just to demonstrate how nowadays in Italy architecture has lost definitively its importance. The basic function of architecture in the past is to accompany and fix the power of authority promoting it. So it assumes the role of witness of a particular historic period and its connoting culture. This basic function of architecture is still present in many countries with glorious pasts as it is supported by strong cultural aims of the men in power but in Italy our governing class is culturally decayed (from any part you observe it): it is at evidence that our governors (left and right) are acting like if they were in a soap opera. In such deteriorated environment the competition with glorious Italian names of the past is not possible and funds are not allocated for giving new shapes to the towns. Even preservation of historic remains is now affected by the economic crisis and consequent cut of funds. You reader, probably a foreign tourist seeking for accommodation, should be so wise to pretend culture and attention by our leaders. Musk and cracks on an ancient façade may give the sense of a romantic view but it is a disaster by the point of view of preservation.
My suspect is that our politicians think tourists are ignorant people and they are moved essentially by vision of ruins and romantic views to show to parents and friend in web published photo galleries. It is not so. With my rental activity in Venice, Florence, Apulia and now in Emilia Romagna I have met only people with a great cultural enthusiasm and with the will of seeking knowledge and a culture with lively roots in the past. Emotions start by knowledge rather than by pure experience. I could not have come out in goose pimples seeing the Monna Lisa without knowing who was Leonardo Da Vinci and in what cultural context he worked. Fortunately Bologna is still a place where the wise tourist may sample a vivid cultural environment. Otherwise I would have changed place where settle my home.

Your opinions are welcome.