The ability of a building to last over time, and out of time, is what the minds of architecture have unlearned to do in the last century. To tell us this is not only the boundless grandeur of anachronistic structures, which have left us with our eyes upturned for countless generations. The ancient Roman and Greek builders disregarded any kind of technological advantage that time has not then assigned to progress. Yet in Rome, the eternal forms such as those of the Pantheon marked the dawn of construction techniques and had the greatest consecration with the Colosseum. Today's panorama, on the other hand, offers us architectures that have a life cycle that often does not exceed a few tens of years. This current condition embraces the awareness of the users who will last inhabit these spaces. In fact, think of the continuous maintenance of buildings such as Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest, of the persistent humidity that affects the daily life of users, or rather of the irrigation systems, the steel and concrete reinforcements necessary to support the weight of plants and shrubs. , not to mention the significant energy expenditure of the cranes that had to transport the shrubs to all floors of the towers under construction, nullifying the savings obtained from the low environmental impact choices envisaged by the project. Progress is a double-edged sword, as useful when considering the past, as it is deleterious if it lacks the conservative principles that have led us to the current way of doing architecture. It is interesting to think how the last of the works created by Mies van der Rohe, the Neue Nationalgalerie, after 50 years from its construction now needs an important structural consolidation. Can a building of this magnitude survive this time? How to intervene? The renovation project (based on the idea 'As much Mies as possible') was entrusted to the David Chipperfield Architects studio in Berlin with the aim of solving the thermoregulation problems, which generated condensation on the windows of the large room on the ground floor and, more generally, to improve the functionality of the existing one, ensuring its maximum conservation. The intervention is not intended to be a praise to one of the most representative symbols of contemporary architecture, but wants to underline how the role of the architect, today, is fundamental in arranging and restoring the same building, with a greater performing value. It is from here that we must start, from the architecture of modernity and from the possibility of prolonging its life ... and history.

Domenico Ardito

The restoration of the Neue Nationalgalerie © David Chipperfield Architects

The restoration of the Neue Nationalgalerie © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects