> IT REVOLUTION BOOK SERIES
Pane, Ponti, Coderch, Cosenza, Rudofsky, Sartoris, and many, many
others. Corbu, with Terragni as a stoker, navigating toward Athens,
and Goethe or Stendahl traveling through Italy, and Joyce, before
and after – always further back into the myth.
When reflecting on the title of this book, it is natural to ask oneself,
among the new digital architects of the Mediterranean, who is our
Penelope, weaving by day and unraveling by night? Who is the valiant
occupier, who is the one-eyed monster (although this one might be
easy to answer, just think how our monitors look at us sometimes),
who are the traveling companions transformed into swine and later
rescued, and who are the sirens with their sweet and deadly songs?
The book leaves this game entirely up to the reader. You try to answer
the questions if you want, in a sort of Ballad of the Salt Sea,
discovering and changing the characters as though in a story by Hugo
But getting down to the work of the architects of IaN+, who are both
the narrators of this tale and its main characters, I think it only
proper to underline a few points regarding their work.
First of all, this book brings to light a situation that stands apart
from the other two cultural and geographic contexts that were examined
in the "IT Revolution in Architecture book series.
Natural Born CAADdesigners looked at the new American generations
and their strong link between theorization and digital research as
though each studio were a fundamentally autonomous laboratory. The
Flying Dutchmen, on the other hand, used research on movement
and speed, "from mechanics to diagrammatics," to describe
the contemporary scene in Holland and its protagonists. I would say
that this Digital Odyssey brings into focus characteristics
that are typical of the Mediterranean scene.
First of all, their desire to network, to weave relations between
the various types of research conducted in this cultural area. As
though the commerce on these seas follows the courses set by the Phoenicians,
the Greeks, the Romans, the Italian maritime republics or the Venetians.
As though these routes still determine common intent and shared feelings.
They have many things in common: the landscape, the water, the same
linguistic roots. And these similarities are the basis for networks,
projects, ideas, buildings.
Nuovi territori. Microutopias, seconda Biennale di Valencia.
The second aspect they have in common is that, as opposed to the often
cerebral theorization of the Americans and the stringent pragmatism
of the Dutch, this cultural environment offers truly broad-ranging
themes which tend to merge the various theories of work.
The first is a particularly distinct realization of the relationship
between architecture and city. This is deeply rooted in the area's
cultural heritage, just remember the Italian School of the 1960's,
which viewed architecture like the prefiguration of an idea of a city.
Naturally, the metaphysics of pure types of those years has been replaced
today by an awareness of the hybrid, complex, and stratified role
played by today's cities, with both productive and leisure cycles,
diverse social and ethnic components, aperture and connection to the
surrounding territory and the continental dimension. Over the last
two decades, the most active cities in the Mediterranean basin have
woven together the threads that start in Barcelona and touch sometimes
only marginally Genoa, Salerno, Naples and, on the other side
of the Adriatic Sea, a renascent Trieste, Split, Athens and, as this
book illustrates, reach all the way to Beirut.
This idea of cities that are luminous and open, active and multi-ethnic,
which create new spaces and new functions, which transform abandoned
areas and give new life to old town centers, this is the main object
of the research and applications of the new Mediterranean architects.
The second theme that many research studies have in common is the
concept of territory. In the Mediterranean area, landscape is viewed
as a facet of anthropogeography, connecting in one single continuum
city, architecture, agricultural areas and major natural events.
This idea of an anthropological territory logically leads to the theme
of ecology and a responsible use of natural resources. IaN+ has made
this a central theme of its project research and has elaborated a
series of guidelines. But, as we know, the neo-ecological way of thinking
is connected to digital thought, in fact they are two sides of the
same coin. NewScapes, a book dealing with this theme, was recently
published in this series. To quote IaN+:
"The concepts behind this type of ecology are to a large degree
similar to those which form the structure of digital thought: the
concept of dynamic transformation and therefore of temporal evolution;
the concept of relationships, therefore of systems as a correlated
part of the processes. Architecture plays a fundamental role in new
ecology because, besides being an integral part of the planning
process, it also contributes to radical urbanistic renewal by adding
concepts and planning variables to focused relationships between human
settlements, nature and city sections."
R&Sie..., Maison Barak.
The resulting concepts (architecture as intelligent recycling, or
as interference or as territorial transformation) span many of the
works presented in this book. Like ACTAR's idea of a continuous band
which can be cut to size, or Arroyo's fuzzy logic, or Roche's on-going
search for auto-configurations, Khoury's ribbon territory, D'Ambrosio's
focus on poetically functional architecture, ma0's constant interweaving
of game images and the web, Cliostraat's experimentation on marginality,
and the works of other emerging authors from Negrini to Mari da Soriano
to Miller and others not included in the following pages.
The final area which the book highlights is, of course, the linguistic
choices. This is slippery and uncertain terrain, but if one can speak
of Mediterranean light, if there is a common Latin root in the language
of our fathers, if those long-ago myths still envelope us, then it
should come as no surprise if, while navigating among these projects,
we sense the smells and tastes which, like the misty scent of tamerice
near a beach, we suddenly recognize as part of our heritage.