Learning from Venturi

Today my generation is experiencing a strange moment of uncertainty capable of holding back the beginning of the creative process. Often we are waiting for that secret that can revolutionize the way of designing, which makes the leap in quality. Or they tirelessly expect the most complex techniques and methods, forgetting a simple but fundamental thing: history is the starting point of the design work. I remember with enthusiasm '50 years of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture ' , the event held in Rome last winter, to celebrate the anniversary of the publication of Robert Venturi's book. The author looks at the past in an original way, taking what is useful for the project and not what the moment wants. He is ironic, possibilist, attentive to communication and symbolism, willing to accept contradictions and make them a force. In the Maxxi auditorium, I meet Carolina Vaccaro , architect and one of the curators of the event, with whom I immerse myself in a pleasant chat. "I started learning from Bob and Denise practically since I was born, and this thing has slowly matured over the years. They often came to Europe, to Rome, and we always went to see things together, first as a girl and then with the awareness of who has studied architecture. " He tells me. "The greatest lesson that Venturi left me is not a lesson in style but a lesson in eyes: eyes that can look differently, eyes that have to elaborate different solutions according to their roots and ideas". She affirms with a strong and decisive voice, and explains to me how Venturi's is for her one of the architectural texts of the twentieth century that still has great potential to educate. It is a book full of examples - a manifesto - that wants to teach us a new way of looking at history. From a distance. So you can interpret it and do different things. For this reason I like to think that in order to design we must know, we must be aware of what has been done. The ability to continually learn, in fact, is concentrated in drawing - in learning to see, understand, express - and in history - an infinite reservoir of references and potential yet to be explored - design tools useful for addressing the needs of here I'm.

The chat made me more and more curious and, today, I want to ask Carolina a fundamental question for our growth:

There is a 'Bob' project that

it can deal with contemporaneity

and is capable of leading the current generation towards

the awareness of the time he is living?

"Undoubtedly a project that summarizes all the principles is the mother's house in Chestnut Hill. In this house a continuous relationship of contradiction and complexity is evident. The façade plays a symbolic role, as an element of recognition and familiarity. This is interesting because is linked to the theme of the ordinary: the mother's house is 'taken for granted' because it re-proposes the icon of the house as a child would draw it. At the same time, within this ordinary reference, the great themes such as that of internal / external relationship: the door looks like a central door with respect to the symmetry of the building but in reality it is not the door, it is a vestibule, and the entrance is moved to the right. When entering the house, however, not everything is symmetrical. the great postmodern contradiction. The building becomes an element of discovery. You expect something and instead you find another. And it is phenomenal! The interior spaces are complex and distorted in form and in their relationships. a of the interior is circulation: you enter, you can immediately go up through the staircase, hidden in the fireplace, and you reach the upper floor, where the staircase continues, but leads nowhere. It's bizarre! I believe that the mother's house is absolutely everything that can be said about Bob and Denise: it is simple and complex at the same time, open and closed, big and small. "

Carolina Vaccaro interview by Erica Scalcione