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NEXT, 8 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura
La Biennale di Venezia

Marco Biraghi
What’s Next?

What’s next? It all appears to be clear. A nearness in time which can be “anticipated”, a distance within our reach, one which can be measured and thus grasped. Designs, models, images – in a word, projects – which, like a lengthy trailer, foretell of the architecture of the near future. There is no utopian tension in all this: no visionary dreams or futuristic rhetoric. Just a realistic sketch of work currently in the pipeline.

And yet, what the next thing actually is lies inevitably in a shadow of uncertainty. A shadow which no image can shed light on, which no rendering can make less intangible. The issue here is not really the simple “play-off” between project and construction, but rather the very idea of a “next thing” which might in some way set out the future, however near it may seem. From this point of view, rather than actually “representing” the future, each project modestly limits itself to imagining it, to “inventing” it. And obviously, no sum of “imaginations” or “inventions” will ever materialise as one single reality.
So what is next? Any answer to such a question is intrinsically flawed. That which really is next holds out against every rhetorical attempt to anticipate it, to “presentify” it, while the only thing which really can be represented is that imaginary nearness found in the project. But then it wouldn’t really be a project unless its task were not that of leaping boldly into the unknown, with its well-founded uncertainty about its own future, holding onto a slim hope – which may then become reality – of being able to change it.

Marco Biraghi (Milano, 1959) insegna Storia dell’architettura contemporanea presso le Facoltà di Architettura del Politecnico di Milano. Attualmente fa parte del comitato editoriale di “Casabella”. Ha pubblicato numerosi articoli su riviste e libri, fra i quali Porta multifrons. Forma, immagine, simbolo, Sellerio, Palermo 1992; Hans Poelzig. Architectura, Ars Magna, Arsenale, Venezia 1992; Béla Lajta. Ornamento e modernità, Electa, Milano 1999. Ha inoltre curato la riedizione dei Quattro Libri dell’Architettura di Andrea Palladio (Studio Tesi, Pordenone 1992), l’edizione italiana di Delirious New York di Rem Kollhaas (Electa, Milano 2001) e raccolte di scritti di Henri Focillon e Ezio Bonfanti.