What is the first memory that comes to your mind related to the Faculty of Architecture of Pescara?
I started working in Pescara in 1993, called after a national competition for 2nd grade professor and I stayed there for ten years. The first memory is linked to the city, not to the Faculty. A city far removed from what I expected to be the background of my new teaching experience. I had studied and worked in Milan in a climate of severe conflict, in the 1970s, and then in Venice, in the midst of the great postmodern calm of the 1980s. In Pescara no trace of conflict or calm. Certainly a few years had passed, but the relationship between the university and the city seemed, to put it mildly, very loose: each was going his own way. This intrigued me. Corso Umberto, or the "avenue of delights" of Pescara in the 1920s (C. Bianchetti, Pescara , Laterza, 1997) was the first thing I saw when I got off the train one morning, very early. A commercial avenue, anonymous and a bit vulgar. The faculty immediately seemed better to me.
One of the phenomena that has affected the Faculty of Architecture of Pescara since its origins has been that of TREND. What is TREND? and what did it represent for you?
I heard about the Trend in Milan during my years of study. Fortunately, not in its dogmatic and radical version. When I arrived in Pescara, there was nothing left, if not a few books that showed the passage.
What do you think you have left in this faculty?
I think it is up to others to recognize the legacies. The action of appropriation is more important than the transmission of knowledge, values, principles, rather than that of offering, as a robust tradition in the field of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis has well argued. From my point of view (that is, from that of those who leave) I can say that I simply taught what I had learned from some masters, who over time became dear friends: Bernardo Secchi and PierLuigi Crosta first of all (masters distant from each other). Not the only ones. I consider myself lucky to have been able to understand what teaching and research are, in a long and dense dialogue with Gigi Mazza, Carlo Olmo, Vittorio Gregotti. I remember some lucid observations of Manfredo Tafuri on these issues in Venice, where I was able to approach him because of my work in the editorial office of Urbanistica. All of them have taught me not to save energy and not to be trapped by the bureaucratic or hypocritical logic that often builds academic daily life. If you like, they taught me a certain snobbery. If I have left something, they are the traces of a job that was trying to follow those directions.
In his career he has faced different academic realities. Are there any distinctive features that can be recognized in the various universities? If yes, what are they?
Of course there are also very different situations and the difference often becomes an alibi for reductive and nostalgic attitudes. As I often say, the ghosts of schools, small groups, more or less invented traditions can comfort and move us all. But it's not their time anymore. Perhaps it was when Giuseppe Samonà was able to build the most important school of architecture in our country. Now we certainly cannot save ourselves by invoking community, recognition, supply chains. Imagining warm and circumscribed horizontal bonds. The university is, in recent months, in the midst of a violent movement of institutional adjustment following structural changes (generational and legislative). The very high level of conflict in strong universities (the Polytechnics of Milan and Turin, for example); the unthinkable weakness of schools that have been the center of Italian architectural training (Venice and in some respects Genoa); Roman inertia; the implosion of many universities in central and southern Italy are phenomena that should be observed very carefully. Until a few years ago there were complaints of an excessive number of Faculties of Architecture in Italy. I suspect that what is facing us today is an equally troubling scenario, but for different reasons.
If you were to return to teaching in Pescara, what experiences would you try to introduce into the reality of the Department of Architecture?
The ten years I spent in Pescara had a profound significance in my course of study, as evidenced by some books. As well as in my life. This is what I got from Pescara. What would I report? Perhaps, as I tried to do then, I would try to bring back a non-localistic look, not closed to other knowledge, but centered on our disciplinary skills. I would try to look back at the European city: a sort of new "trip to Chiasso", to paraphrase Arbasino, in a difficult moment due to the addition, on the territory, of the implications of ecological, demographic, economic and institutional crises. Going back to dealing with the European city implies a work of profound rethinking of the ways in which norms, rights and values are being rearticulated in space. The crisis not only weakens. Change hierarchies. Change meanings. We need to get back to asking good questions around the European city. Without defining a priori what it is. And what is heritage, productive land, public space, welfare. But looking at how these concepts crystallize in several places, in several moments, mobilizing different actors, resources, actions. How they take shape within specific situations. That is, assuming that their redefinition is a practical problem. If I taught in Pescara, I would probably try to understand, together with my students, how these concepts recur. But, after all, that's what I'm doing in Turin. I should probably go back to Pescara for a while to understand how these issues can be rethought in relation to the middle Adriatic territory.