| Nata nella scorsa estate da un'idea di 2A+P/A, Baukuh, Stefano Graziani, Office KCDVS, pupilla grafik, Salottobuono e Giovanna Silva, "San Rocco" si presenta come "una rivista scritta da architetti, così seria da rischiare di apparire ingenua" (leggi in questa pagina l'editoriale). Un piano quinquennale definisce una serie limitata a venti numeri. I testi sono in inglese, introdotti da un impianto asciutto e solenne. Il primo numero, dedicato al tema Innocence, ha sollevato una riflessione di Alberto Iacovoni e Luca Galofaro, che crediamo possa offrire lo stimolo per un più ampio confronto sul ruolo della nuova rivista e sui suoi contenuti.
| SAN ROCCO is a magazine about architecture.
SAN ROCCO does not solve problems. It is not a useful magazine.
SAN ROCCO is neither serious nor friendly.
SAN ROCCO is written by architects. As such, SAN ROCCO is not particularly intelligent, or philologically accurate. In SAN ROCCO, pictures are more important than texts.
SAN ROCCO is serious. It takes the risk of appearing naive.
SAN ROCCO will not last for ever. There will be no more than 20 SAN ROCCOs for the single five-year plan.
San Rocco is the name of a place in Monza, not a nice place. Giorgio Grassi and Aldo Rossi engaged in a design competition for this place in 1971. The project was not built; ordinary housing blocks were built instead.
A few negligible drawings of the San Rocco project have survived in old monographs, along with a black-and-white photograph of the competition model. It is a picture taken from above of the white plaster model. Close to the buildings there is a large label in relief lettering that casts dramatic shadows and reads "MONZA – SAN ROCCO scala 1:500"
San Rocco was the product of the collaboration of two young architects. San Rocco did not contribute to the later fame of its two designers. It is neither "standard Grassi" nor "standard Rossi". Somehow it remains between the two, strangely hybrid, open and uncertain, multiple and enigmatic.
The purity and radicalism of the design does not involve any intolerance. San Rocco suggests an entirely new set of possibilities. It seems to be the beginning of a new type of architecture, or the first application of a new type of architecture, or the first application of a new –and happy– design method that has not been developed further.
San Rocco proposes the possibility of reusing architectural traditions that lie outside of private memory (contrary to Rossi's usual approach) without erasing personal contributions (contrary to Grassi's usual approach). In San Rocco, common does not mean dry, and personal does not mean egomaniacal. San Rocco seems to suggest the possibility of an architecture that is both open and personal, both monumental and fragile, both rational and questioning.
This kind of situation has arisen in other moments in the history of architecture. It would be possible to compile a list of examples of this unlikely, generous, vulnerable and innocent architecture.
Innocent architecture is not utopian architecture, nor is it architecture de papier. Innocent architecture is always meant to be built, and sometimes it is. In its innocence, innocent architecture is serious.
Innocent architecture is not experimental. Innocent architecture is not open-ended. It is precisely defined and yet strangely generous. Its results are evident, but at the same time they are not entirely applicable.
Innocent architecture is not completely effective. Somehow it does not work; it is neither ripe nor stable. It is unfinished, either literally (like the Olympeion) or conceptually (like the Villa Garzoni). If built, it can easily be destroyed (e.g. Toyo Ito's White U). It is both more promising and more disappointing, more daring and more incomplete, more dangerous and more paradoxical. What is discovered is not immediately present, but rather displaced or somehow post- poned. Its formal resources are not immediately available.
Innocent architecture is enigmatic. You do not understand whether it is inspired or idiotic; it is architecture by Prince Myshkin.
Most of the time episodes of innocent architecture are the product of a collaboration (e.g. Rossi and Grassi, Burnham and Root, Meyer and Wittwer, Diotallevi, Marescotti and Pagano, etc.); something in them remains unclear, or open to further development. What the architects discover in these projects seems to lie beyond their goals; it is somehow greater and not completely under their control –weak yet convincing, brave yet naive. Innocent designs are ones whose ambition was somehow excessive; they are projects that never really found legitimate heirs to the colossal risks they ran.
Innocent architecture seems to belong to extremely broad formal traditions. The family of precedents (and descendants) of the Monadnock Building or the White U seems to be larger than the family of precedents of any other project by Ito or Burnham. Because of innocent architecture's promising openness, it is easier to approve of it than of its pedantic developments (thus, it is easier to go along with Kollhoff's design for the Frankfurt Ethnological Museum than with his later works).
Innocent architecture is not big. It is either colossal or small (or both, as in the case of the Zeebrugge ferry terminal).
Innocent architecture is not complicated. Much like a toy, it is comprised of just a few parts. Price's aviary in The Regent's Park is an example of a design that reaches innocent architecture's greatest acceptable degree of technological complexity.
Innocent architecture is white (e.g. the White U or the balneario in Jaú) or, at least, pale (like the Indiana Avenue Studios).
[1 gennaio 2011]
"San Rocco", 0/Innocence, Summer 2010
pp. 160, € 15,00
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