From the Nest to the NIBA!

January 26, 2011

As you can see, now in my sidebar on the right stands a new logo, designed by Daniele Mantellato: that of Niba | Network Italiano dei Blog di Architettura (Italian Network of Architecture Blogs).

It is basically a Facebook group created by me with this description:

Dear architecture bloggers, blog readers or fans of architecture,
Most of you will have realized that blogs and Facebook are very different instruments, for good and bad.
We love blogs to leave us the freedom to give them our preferred shape.
We love Facebook because of the ease we keep in touch with, and because its allow us to share content.
We have created this group with the intention of making a blog connector out of it, in order to help Italian (or not) architecture bloggers to stay better updated on their activities. We only ask to give it visibility and share content: in particular, notes and links to your posts are welcome.

My idea, therefore, was to create a simple «network in the network», as Alessandro Rocca (Low Cost Low Tech) has aptly called it. But, as I hoped, in short, the room was filled with faces and words, and a week after all we are already 97.

Perhaps the Italian blogosphere is not as deserted as it seems, since many quite heated discussions have already born in the group. Anyone interested is invited to join and participate!

Here we are (hopefully) all:

Eccoci (spero) tutti:

A Come Architettura
Abitare Mag
Laura Aquili di DES-ART-CHITECTURE
Antonio Marco Alcaro, Giulio Paolo Calcaprina and Giulio Pascali from Amate l’architettura
Francesco Alois from Spirito Architettonico Libero
ArchitectureFeed Architecture Aggregator
Guido Aragona fromBizblog
Andrea Balestrero
Carlo Beltracchi from Beyond the Light Bulb
Claudio Bosio
Marco Brizzi di arch’it
Antonella Bruzzese
Marco Calvani
Silvio Carta from Beyond Icons 2.0
Diego Casartelli
Channelbeta Architectural Review, Gianluigi D’Angelo and Matteo Falcone
Simo Capecchi from In viaggio col taccuino
Maurizio Caudullo from Archinlab
Chvl Associati
Domenico Cogliandro
Comitato Sarzana Che Botta
Luca Coppola
Salvatore D’Agostino from Wilfing Architettura
Gianluigi D’Angelo
Davide Del Giudice
Maurizio Degni from Frustrazioni architettoniche
Roberta Patrizia Di Benigno
Luca Diffuse from Luca Diffuse and Diffuse Outtakes
Domenico Di Siena di Urbanohumano
Davide Di Virgilio
Edilizia E Territorio and Giorgio Santilli
Massimiliano Ercolani from Dokc Lab
Alessio Erioli from Co-de-it
Barbara Falcone from Cibo Architettura
Cristian Farinella and Lorena Greco from Gluemarket
Elena Fedi from Archiportale
Marco Ferrari
Fabio Fornasari from Luoghi sensibili
Annalisa Gentile
Mario Gerosa from Virtual Architectural Heritage
Andrea Graziano from digitag&
Joseph Grima from Domusweb
Luca Guido from Luca Guido
Alberto Iacovoni from ma0 News
Impianti Idrici
Guido Incerti
Jakob Knulp from One to the third
Diego Lama
Matteo Lecis Cocco-Ortu
Enrica Longo
Matteo Lo Prete
Robert Maddalena
Zaira Magliozzi from TheNewArchinTown
Marco Mantellato
Daniele Mantellato
Simona Mazzeo
Ettore Maria Mazzola
Giovanni Mendola from [Identità e Città]
Luca Molinari from ymag
Zoè Chantall Monterubbiano
Renato Nicolini
Edmondo Occhipinti from | edmondo occhipinti architect |
Giorgio Opla and Marco Opla from Opla+
Emanuele Papa from Il blog della cosa
Claudia Pasquero from ecoLogic
Francesco Pecoraro
Emanuele Piccardo from Architettura radicale and archphoto
Paola Pierotti
Emmanuele Jonathan Pilia from PEJA TransArchitecture research
Press/Tfactory and Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi
Paolo Priolo from klat magazine
Pask Rienzo
Alessandro Ranellucci from ArchiBlog
Alessandro Rocca from Low Cost Low Tech
Ugo Rosa from Fiordizucca
Fabrizio Russo
Serena Russo from Petra Dura, architettura e contorni
Antonino Saggio
Giorgio Santilli
Sardarch Architettura
Carmelo Cesare Schillagi
Matteo Seraceni from = Architettura = Ingegneria = Arte =
Luca Silenzi from Spacelab
Diego Terna from l’architettura immaginata
Viviana Terzoli
Traccia Menti
Paolo Valente
Marco Verde from Performative design processes for architecture
Angelo Verderosa
Davide Vizzini

As you can see, the names are many but the links are few. This is because I do not yet know many of you, or I haven’t got the address of your blog, or even I have accidentally skipped someone. I intentionally avoided the study sites with only portfolios, because I believe that the spirit of Niba is clearly more than a mere demonstration of everyone’s work. If I forgot someone or done something wrong, or if you think that the criterion for selecting the link is invalid, comment and I’ll rectify immediately.
Now, what do we expect from this Niba? In truth, I have no idea. This however is part of the game, because I expect surprises.
We’ll see.

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Yesterday I had the pleasant experience of attending a live conference in London via streaming.
This was the Critical Futures debate, organized by Domus and broadcast on Domusweb, website/blog amazing for its freshness as well as for the quality of its content, even being the online version of the second Italian architecture magazine by definition, which this year happens to have nothing less than its 83th birthday.
Here you can read all the details of the event. These were the speakers:

Shumi Bose – writer [so said on Domusweb, with a masculine translation in the Italian page; but, instead of a “male writer”, there actually seemed to be an asian girl which is doing a thesis on the themes of mutation of architecture press in the era of blogs. I also find on the site of the AA School: Shumi Bose is Teaching Assistant in History & Theory Studies]
Charles Holland – author of Fantastic Journal
Peter Kelly – Director of Blueprint
Kieran Long – architecture critic of The Evening Standard
Geoff Manaugh – author of BLDGBLOG
Beatrice Galilee – author and curator, Domusweb, The Gopher Hole

Moderator: Joseph Grima, Domus.

The conversation was very pleasant and informal, with fine participation by the audience. It will not be possible to provide a detailed account of everything that was said, partly because the difficulties of listening to a streaming conference are many (for example, understanding the words of Geoff Manaugh, who was connected from Los Angeles, has been very difficult because, in addition to a particularly fast talking – so much that it even hit the London public – a series of problems with audio feedback and volume swings compromised its understandability – for me, at least). I will then brutally copy my notes about it, I hope to remember well.

Peter Kelly: he thinks to the debates exchanged in the past between editorial magazines, such as those between Mendini, who wrote on Domus, and Maldonado, who responded from Casabella. Today there is no sense for this to happen, if not online. What will this change?

Kieran Long: [somewhat nicely histrionic, Ed.] one can not speak of true journalistic-critical tradition in architecture [I think in England, Ed.], because there was no intention by the past generation to create one. The average age of the editors of the magazines is very high and it is no one’s interest to lower it.
In the blog there is generally more freedom of expression, which instead is bound in the official press because of problems associated with the ownership of newspapers and general issues of economic interest.

Joseph Grima: however, in the universe of blogs «stroncatura» [which is the Italian for “harsh criticism”. Grima says it in Italian, adding he is unable to find the suitable  English translation, despite speaking it almost as a first language, Ed.] does not exist.

Charles Holland: his work on the blog addresses topics that are only tangentially related to his profession as an architect, so there is not always directly link to the professional world.

Shumi Bose (?): but we can not compare all of the old blogosphere or online journalism and traditional publishing. Reflection on cultural background. The main effect of online activities is the “de-specialization”, or the loss of specialism both in input (writing) and output (reading). Cause and effect of this is that for the most part, those who write online are doinf it for free. Towards them, there is distrust, one wonders who are these people who have never published, if not online.

Joseph Grima: there is an ethics of online architecture writing?

Beatrice Galilee: maybe not, but we can observe that the continuous stream of glossy images on the architecture blogs is pornographic. Many blogs reach massive flows of traffic for this very reason. What is the effect of this phenomenon on the contemporary architectural culture? May this damage it?

Shumi Bose (?): but this is a highly political act. Think of how important social effects can many architecture blogs of Spanish language have, which are particularly centered on the use of images, on the cultural environment of Latin America.

Beatrice Galilee: this can really become an area of competition for magazines. Why should I buy one, if I can find the pictures that I’m looking for online?

Kieran Long: the problem is that there are not enough intellectuals and theoreticians of architecture!

Joseph Grima: in Italy the problem is the opposite! [hints sarcastically, audience laughs, Ed.]

Geoff Manaugh: he wonders how many of his posts that he considers thematically and geographically marginal are shared online by a large number of people.

Comment from the public: there is much more passion in the blogs, you can more easily stand up and take clear positions. For this reason it is likely that in the near future will be  blogs and online content to shift the debate, rather than the magazines, which are almost always on neutral positions, induced as slaves of the search for objectivity and professionalism.

[I cannot remember who]: the social importance typically attributed to architecture in the ’60s and ’70s has been lost with the emergence of the starsystem. It is that spirit that today inspires bloggers.

The directions of history

January 13, 2011

Or: using blogs as a pretext to investigate the vanguard

I invite you to read this post on De Architectura after which a little discussion has generated to which I have participated.
Essentially, the post comments on a Christmas operation for which the windows of the Duomo in Milan have been lit from within. In this way, an unusual effect for the city has been created, since the rule says that the light passes through those glasses from outside to inside, and that only those who are inside can perceive the effect. Here you can see photos of the intervention.
In the named blog, particularly through the comments, various opinions come – it is to say – to the light, but the total judjement is negative for three orders of reasons, which can be summarized thus:
Economic and trade: the intervention is funded / sponsored by the local light enterprise (AEM), so there is a reason of interest;
Lay-consumerism: the curia indulges in marketing strategies, which have little to do with spiritual affairs, «Does artificial light, shining in the night inside the Milanese cathedral, making it seem as a great Christmas light visible only by those staying out in the secular space, allow the spiritual experience of elevation of the mind to God?» (commentary by Paul Gobbini);
Philological: the windows are made to be viewed from within and from below, while the outside is a mirror image; it generates «the forcing of the will to “read” a work of art in different conditions than those for which was conceived and created» (commentary by Enrico Delfini).

Accepting as a plausible reason to dissent only the first of three lines of argument, I intend to refute the other two and propose a different interpretation of the operation.
For brevity, I’m reporting the central part of my commentary to the question:

Personally, in fact, I believe that the reinterpretation (if not invasive, and this certainly is not) of objects of even ancient architecture by contemporaries is not only a right of theirs, but even a duty. If architecture is, in fact, civil – and thus social – art par excellence, it was designed to be used and to evolve along with the same uses that are not fixed in time.
Then, a “delicate” (in terms of reversibility) operation like this, should not be condemned just because philologically incorrect, because philology, on closer inspection, has little to do with art.
And to be honest, I like the intervention. I have a less philological spirituality too, probably, but if I was more convincedly Catholic, I’d say that looking at the lighted windows of the square, it would come to my mind, first, that there is no need to enter a church to be in a church.

Which is the maximum goal of a work of architecture, isn’t it?

Now, we expand the subject a little and try to understand why it may be interesting for us.

So, studying Zevi or Benevolo acquiring their method means, first, giving the history of architecture (and especially that of modern architecture) an oriented reading, which is a kind of teleology, or rather more properly of hermeneutic phenomenology. It means, in other words, to interpret it as an attempt by man to emancipate himself in one direction. For the two giants of history, is to be freed from the yokes of historicism and what comes next is history – one could say with a pun on words.
In my view, this approach can still be used, if we consider that the continuous changes of our understanding of space should reflect changes in the way we design, occupy and manipulate it.
As I had occasion to rule on several occasions even within this blog, is my opinion that the role of theoretical reason for architecture is inseparable from that of the designer and the objective of this Janus-faced figure is precisely to indicate how and why we must plan. So now the direction that history is following is towards the clearance of a number of spatial concepts which are characterized by logic and geometric hierarchies that have been overcome long ago.

Among these, it seems clear that it is also the contradiction in / out. Concavity and convexity concepts are now quite ambiguous due to the emergence of topology and types of “zero volume” planning that transcend the traditional architectural dimension.
Then, an intervention such as the Milan one, which – perhaps unwillingly – allows the reflection on the potential by the out to possess some of the characteristics of the inside, can only generate great interest, prompting even the passer with a critical question: what actually separates the aisles of the Duomo from the churchyard, the square?
Just shallow, instead, are the old criticisms about the consistency with some initial conditions that are generally only roughly suppositories.
And all this apart, of course, an idea of church community that is more frankly indefensible as it perches on geometrical considerations, choosing his allies among the rear guard of each sector. But that is another matter.

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