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NEXT, 8 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura
La Biennale di Venezia

RETRAINING THE CORPOREAL SENSE
OF SIGHT AND SPACE
By Monica Lattuada


Visual pollution is by far the most loathsome that we are exposed to in our chaotic modern cities. The world of images present in cities overwhelms us; it has become a “background noise” which only rarely serves as a “signal…to our other senses. The real key to seeing lies in picking out background noises, and then in discarding them in order to rediscover hidden signals,” (Jorrit Tornquisit Colorworks rumore di fondo-segnale). Today, very few of us are able to identify signals; most of us passively absorb the stereotypes offered up by the media.
Thus, the commissioner provides the architect with a series of inputs which are not based on psycho-physical or aesthetic requirements, but on stereotypes which he or she would like to see reproduced in his or her own home. This rehash of stereotypes does not resolve or satisfy the commissioner’s multitude of unique and personal day to day difficulties, and it does not give the architect room to work as s/he is left without any notion of the client’s real needs. In this way, the relationship between architect and commissioner becomes extremely frustrating and unsatisfactory for both parties, and leads to a mutual sense of mistrust.
The primary task of the architect should therefore be that of trying to interrupt this perverse tendency, revitalising the senses, highlighting the misleading stereotypes, leading the way towards a reacquisition of the senses – for those who allow themselves to be led.
The body must be reawakened and trained to react physically to signals and spaces. It is the senses that draw on the body’s inner dynamism, the warmth, the sound, the smell, the lightness and heaviness of forms, spaces, materials, images. It is the body that re-elaborates and translates the stimuli it receives, and “nothing compares to the state of grace, the waves of joy given off by our vital centres caused by the release of substances produced naturally by our organism.” It is this that we must take as our starting point. (Franco Bolelli, Più Mondi Baldini & Castoli, Milan 2002).
Identifying and planning on the basis of the space, the location and the real needs is the right spirit to start in, before stimulating the right senses and energies to rebuild the space and live it to the full.
Living spaces will have to contain or evoke all of the elements which man searches for: nature, future ambitions, past memories, the worlds of our ancestors, our need for protection and repose. This is Next.

September 2002

BIOGRAPHY

Monica Lattuada was born in Milan in 1958, where she lives and works as an architect. She is co-author of the book Asnago & Vender. L’astrazione quotidiana. Architetture progetti dal 1925-1970 by Francesca Codeo, Monica Lattuada and Cino Zucchi, published by Skira, 1999. She has also contributed articles and reviews to various magazines and exhibition catalogues. She is the curator of the Asnago & Vender Architectural Archive.