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NEXT, 8 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura
La Biennale di Venezia

Reflections on a Biennial unseen......
By Pippo Ciorra


Even with the gates still closed, and the gardens and the Arsenale swarming with architects working themselves up into a narcissistic exhibition frenzy, perhaps it is not too early to make a few initial observations about the “novelties” of the NEXT Biennial, or rather, the novelties of the “next” architecture. The first impression is strange. On one hand, the stone-faced Sudjic has lined up a hundred or so “artworks” under construction around the world which should go a fair way to reassuring us about the future of our multi-faceted art. On the other hand, several of the most important buildings – even museums and exhibition spaces – which have recently been inaugurated seem designed to convince us of the opposite: in Las Vegas, Koolhhas has “created” the Guggenheim spaces by simply sticking the world-famous museum’s logo on a couple of warehouses at the end of a car park of some big hotel. In Paris, the Palais de Tokyo has recently been inaugurated to great critical and public acclaim, an arts centre knocked together using an old 1900s structure and leaving it more or less as it was, warts and all, with its cracks in the plastering and a few metallic nets to funnel the visitors round.

What then is the “next” form of architecture: the irresistibly optimistic kind endorsed by Sudjic, or that which is no longer necessary, along the gaily suicidal lines of Koolhhas and the Palais de Tokyo? Is it that of the “starchitects”, busily making sure the market value of their brands remains buoyant, or is it that which we (don’t) see around us in the day to day transformation/destruction of our landscape?

I don’t know. Perhaps the great architects have finally managed to persuade Prada to offer some rather more conceptually innovative shopping areas, but at the same time, they have somewhat lost their role in designing our day to day lives: the spaces for us to work, rest and play. The NEXT architecture is, therefore, a beautiful yet sterile one, a dead body waiting for a new incarnation through different forms and techniques, ones which draw on the ability to cast a fresh gaze over our cities, to exploit digital technologies less naïvely, and to encourage intense and fruitful exchanges with art and other disciplines which operate “on the territory”.

September 02

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Formia in 1955, Pippo Ciorra has taught Architectural Composition at the Faculty of Architecture of Ascoli Piceno since 1995. Since 1981 he has written for "Il Manifesto" and its culture supplements, as well as for architecture magazines both in Italy and abroad. He has worked on the editing panel of "D'Architettura", "Rassegna di Architettura & Urbanistica", and on the editorial committee of the "Almanacco Electa dell'Architettura Italiana". Since 1996 he has been on the editorial committee of "Casabella". With Electa he published a number of works such as: Ludovico Quaroni 1911-1987 (1989), Botta, Eisenman, Gregotti, Hollein: Musei (1991), and Peter Eisenman (1993). Furthermore, he supervised the monograph on Richard Meier (1993). With Birkauser he published Antonio Citterio & Terry Dwan in 1995 and, in 1998, Young Italian Architects, together with Mario Campi. In 2000 he published Nuova Architettura Italiana, for Skirà in collaboration with M. D'Annuntiis; and in 2002 La metropoli dopo, with G. Mastrigli, for Meltemi.
Among the works and projects worthy of note, the following stand out: the creation of a small Ecomusée de la Casamance in Senegal, the renovation of the Nuovo Sacher cinema in Rome, the internal decoration and the entranceway of the Corderie dell'Arsenale for the Biennale Architettura in 1991, the ex-Eden building and residential complex in Viale dei Pini in Senigallia, and the new site – still under construction – of the Departments of Molecular Biology and Comparative Anatomy of the University of Camerino.
His works have been published in various magazines and put on show in a number of collective exhibitions in Italy and abroad. He took part in the Architecture Biennial in 1982 and in 1991, as well as in the Triennial in 1995.