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Gunnar Asplund

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Gunnar Asplund
Gunnar Asplund.jpg
Born(1885-09-22)22 September 1885
Died20 October 1940(1940-10-20) (aged 55)
BuildingsVilla Sturegården, Nyköping, (1913), The Snellman House, Djursholm, (1918), Stockholm (1920) The Listers County Court House, Sölvesborg, (1921), The Skandia Cinema, Stockholm (1923), Stockholm Public Library, (1928),
ProjectsSkogskyrkogården (1914-40), Gothenburg Courthouse Extension (1913-37)

Erik Gunnar Asplund (22 September 1885 – 20 October 1940) was a Swedish architect, mostly known as a key representative of Nordic Classicism of the 1920s, and during the last decade of his life as a major proponent of the modernist style which made its breakthrough in Sweden at the Stockholm International Exhibition (1930). Asplund was professor of architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology from 1931. His appointment was marked by a lecture, later published under the title "Our architectonic concept of space."[1]

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  • ✪ Symposium on Architecture: How to See Architecture: Bruno Zevi (MArch ’42), Panel 1
  • ✪ Symposium on Architecture: How to See Architecture: Bruno Zevi (MArch ’42), Panel 2
  • ✪ Alvar Aalto


So good afternoon and welcome. It's really great to be able to welcome you all, especially our speakers. I'm sure that people will be coming in. It's 1 o'clock, so they'll sort of trickle in throughout the afternoon. This seems to be-- the last couple of years-- the year of centenaries. Last year we celebrated the centenary of IM Pei, which was really fantastic. And I'm glad to report that he's still going strong, which is great. And this year, there is the centenary of Paul Rudolph, and of course, Bruno Zevi, who we are celebrating this afternoon. This is an event that's sponsored by the Walter Gropius Lecture Fund, which is very appropriate given that Zevi studied here during the time of Walter Gropius. And I'm sure things could be said about that relationship as well when he was here in the '40s. Just before we start, I want to also just remind everyone that there will be a noontime talk given by Elisa Silva, one of the faculty who's teaching an option studio in landscape architecture on Monday. And next Thursday on November 1, as part of the fall open house, the evening of the advanced studies programs presentation, Irma Boom will be here from Amsterdam to do that evening lecture. And Irma has recently been working very closely with Rem Koolhaas on a mega publication project, which is now the kind of reincarnation of all the research on elements. And a really amazing new book has now been published by Taschen. So Irma will be talking about that, the work of GSD students, and her own work, which is really, I'm sure, going to be something very, very special. This event really started with Jean-Louis Cohen. This is essentially-- today's event is his brainchild. It's a conversation that started maybe some three years ago. Since then, there's been a great exhibition that also Jean-Louis and Pippo Ciorra who is the curator at MAXXI have been involved with, and also has resulted in this book, Zevi's Architechts. History and Counter-History of Italian Architecture 1944-2000, which I recommend to you. And many of our speakers are also authors of various essays in this book. I think this is also really an interesting moment to be looking at the work of Zevi. I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time at the exhibition with people. And it's a really wonderful exhibition that shows Zevi as a historian, a critic, a protagonist of architecture, and someone who also made very special exhibitions. It was really interesting to see his early exhibitions and the design of the exhibition, and the quality of the exhibition looking at the architectural history. And of course, knowing that he was constantly connecting history to the present, so to speak, and connecting modernism to that history. Zevi came here during the war years as a Jewish architect. It was also very important that he was here during the war years. And I think that that is something that I'm sure you'll hear about, and it's very present in his work and in his ideas, especially seeing really, some of the later preferences and projects, where he's looking at Danny Libeskind and becoming-- in a way I felt much more conscious of his own Jewish identity, much more explicitly. So very, very complicated and complex character. But the fact that he was so outspoken about architecture and really trying to communicate architecture with others, this is why we also use essentially the subtitle of one of his books to speak about this idea of how to see architecture from his subtitle where he says how to look at architecture. And this specific way of trying to communicate maybe to non-architects, the way in which, the manner in which one has to actually look at contemporary architecture. And his commitment to sort of making new architecture, which is so present in the exhibition, where basically many of the people that he supported are being beautifully presented through photographs and models. And so that's also an aspect of Zevi that we don't really know so much about, that Zevi's intellectual project is also manifested through a vast body of projects. And I think that would be fantastic for us to become more familiar in a way with the work of those Italian architects. Many of them known, but many of them not so well known to us. Clearly when he was here, the work and focus on Frank Lloyd Wright was one thing that impressed him a lot, and his focus on organic architecture. So there are many complex dimensions to his work. And I'm really looking forward to our two panels that will be discussing this work. The first panel will be moderated by Michael Hayes. And he will introduce the speakers, so I won't introduce them. And the second panel by Tony Vidler. We're really happy that the two of you have agreed to moderate these two sessions. Michael, of course, needs no introduction. He's been part of the school, and such an important part of the school, and part of our thinking about architectural history and theory. And of course Tony, really an amazing historian. So influential. Involved at many schools from the UK, to Princeton, to UCLA, to Cornell, to Cooper. And so we are very happy-- [inaudible] So we're very happy that he is here with us. And we love reading your work and we're very happy that you're here. So please welcome Michael Hayes, who will introduce the first panel. Thank you. [applause] Thanks Mohsen. Just first, some quick thanks. To Paige Johnston for helping-- for organizing this, working very hard with the communications program. Dan Borelli and Ines Zalduendo have made a fantastic exhibition of publications related to Zevi, to his time here, which I encourage you to see. The rare books are just being installed as we speak because they had to have a cover. But they'll be available during the conference. The fact is that Zevi isn't that much discussed at the GSD. And I think one of the things that will be important about this conference is first of all, to change that. And second of all, but it might be worth pondering as we go along why this has been the case. Because I think some of the things that the speakers will elucidate will actually both answer why that has been the case and why it should change. So this is what I hope. And I just want to say a bit about the teaching of-- think a little bit about the teaching at the GSD and why Zevi has not been more part of that discourse. I mean for example, someone like Rudolf Wittkower, we still read the humanists book, mainly for the chapters on Alberti and Palladio. And I think the reason is, that in a professional school and because of the ethos of the GSD, there is a sort of sophisticated formalism in Wittkover. But also the notion of architecture as a project in the Alberti chapter-- well, both-- this idea that architecture is a project that can go over an entire career and develop is something that really resonates with our students. I would even go so far to say that though Colin Rowe is still known and read, it's certainly not because of Collage City, it's because of the fact that he's a student of Wittkower here. It's a different take on him than our generation had. We read [inaudible] for Le Corbusier to start, and then we use Jean-Louis Taschen book, for example. We don't read Rowe so much on Le Corbusier. Banham students love Banham now. The picture of him in the environmental bubble just drive them crazy. His attention to gadgets and gizmos and LA, he's become for the millennials what Tafuri was, I think, for us. They're a kind of role model, almost. I'm thinking mainly not just about the PhD students who are studying history, but even for the design students. But it's still Tafuri here that's regarded as-- he's taken very seriously as a Marxist theorist, as a dialectical materialist, and studied for that as well as for being a brilliant historian. And I think Tafuri, in a way, helped eclipse Zevi in a way. So I think that to-- I just want to point out two things before I introduce the first panel to think about. Zevi's association is mostly mentioned with Frank Lloyd Wright. And the way that he uses Wright in some ways to build the theory of organic architecture that is his claim to fame, at least in America. And it'll be very interesting to hear how much more complex, in fact, his writings are than just about Frank Lloyd Wright in organic architecture. But I do think that that's the first point, for us, even if we want to know about Wright, we would go first to Hitchcock. But then here teaching is Joe Connors for the villa-- for the houses, and Neil Levine. So we don't read Zevi for Wright. But then we also don't read Zevi for how he writes, somehow. And I the comment that just a bit. He tended to be less sophisticated. But I think what the audience will find out-- and I did know, and I think we don't know-- not because of lack of capacity, but actually-- because he was quite capable-- but he wanted his writing to be accessible. He wanted to be heard, he wanted to be understood. The book, Saber Ver La Arquitecture-- which in English goes to Architecture as Space, How to Look at Architecture-- this is what Roberto Dulio-- who unfortunately couldn't join us today-- said. He said that the book was a brilliant synthesis between the pragmatic dimension of an American textbook and the interpretational space in the European art historical tradition. And I think that pragmatism is something that maybe is worth thinking about with Zevi. He wanted to be understood because he wanted to make a difference. He wanted his work on history to have an effect in the [non-english],, in the current in the current action, in the contingent action. Zevi's writings were actually complex. And we'll see here that in the first panel, as also were his influences. Daria Ricchi is going to talk about Zevi's writing in the context of various modes of narrative fictional writing in Italy oriented toward the future, including the writings, for example, of Argan. We also read Argan here. I mean, just so you know. But also, Italo Calvino, for example. I think that this is not a well-known story that Daria will give us. His work can be quite polemical. Organic architecture is actually, for him, a political architecture. It's an architecture for democracy. And it's not the just cliched bland democracy, it's antifascist. This is the real-- this this is the real importance of democracy at his time. His writing is-- the politics of his writing come from close formal looking, but also prescriptions of polygons instead of square grids, heterogeneous materials. And in place of sort of neo-Cartesian, neoclassical stone and stucco, it's something much more heterogeneous. Pippo Ciorra will talk about Zevi's navigation of the politics of Cold War space, and of architecture and urbanism as agents of democracy. So let me introduce our first two panelists. Pippo Ciorra, as Mohsen said, was the curator-- he is the curator and organized with Jean-Louis at MAXXI in Rome just this year, the exhibition Bruno Zevi, Storia e controstoria dell'architettura. He is an architect, a critic and educator. He was a member of the editorial board of Casabella up until just a few years ago, teaches design and theory at the University of Camerino, and he's director of the PhD program at the Institute in Venice. In 2011, he published an overview of the conditions of architecture in Italy entitled Senza Architettura, le ragioni per una crisi, the reason for the crises. He's the author of a number of books, including some monographs-- including a monograph on Peter Eisenman, as well as Quaroni, as well as the publications on photography and contemporary work. Daria Ricchi did her PhD in history and theory at Princeton University. Her dissertation, which of course includes Zevi, focused on architecture historiography, but as a kind of literary genre, or in the context of literary genre in the middle of the 20th century. Figures as I said, like Argon, Italo Calvino, and many others, as well as Bruno Zevi. Her research interest also include modern contemporary art and architecture in popular culture. She just finished a post-doctorate at Yale, where she's working on this project and also a new project studying the writings of the novelist Edith Wharton. So I invite Pippo first, and then Daria. Welcome. [applause] So I-- do I manage from here, no? I think the green. Yeah. I have no-- no digits here. Just put-- or you could just-- Yeah, but this should-- but it needs to-- yeah. Oh, sorry. How do I go back? Yeah. So, 15 minutes are very quick, so I will be running. I am not going to read, I'm sorry. I'm Italian, I belong to the lowest level of humanity curators, so I'm excused. [laughter] But to say a few things in 15 minutes, I need to be sharp. So we did this-- none of us, not Jean-Louis or I, maybe none of us come from that Zevi environment. We are all more or less Tafurian. I studied in Venice. So we had to rebuild our history, and redo our recognition and investigation on our running story to understand why it would be important and make sense to study Zevi and to do an exhibition on Zevi today, besides the pleasure of fighting one year a day with Adachiara, Zevi's daughter every day. [inaudible] So my idea was to-- for this conference-- was to understand why Zevi is still important today, because Italy is still the result of a post-war series of events, and ideas, and positions which is very strong conditioning the situation of architecture in all the country today. So Zevi is only a way to investigate the-- I'm a curator, so I have this type of thing of being somehow a presentist, the worst possible thing in the world. So I want to read Zevi to understand what happens now to us, and to me. And so my secret curatorial agenda for the exhibition, which was interesting, and its exhibition was important because Zevi is a different way to look at the history of Italian architecture. As Mohsen said, many of you don't even know many of the architects we discovered that are very interesting, and they were of course shadowed by Tafuri. The second thing was this incredible power that Zevi developed in terms of communicating architecture, redefining all the medias, all the languages. And the third one is of course, is investigation of the power of historiography as an agent in society. But then there was my fourth secret point, which was to use Zevi to understand why we don't have in very good shape for architecture today in Italy. And somehow the situation which blocked him, which really was its failure, so we talked about the failure today, is still somehow operating in our situation. Forgive me for my English. Four premises to understand this frame, the first one is this obsession with the word politics that you find today in every conference, every student's thesis, every architecture essay. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it does not make sense. But there is definitely an obsession in this field. The second point is to remember, to remind you that Italy was a kind of a Cold War lab. Because you had a super strong right wing Catholic party, and a super strong-- that you wouldn't find in any other country in Europe-- Communist Party. So the Cold War was in the country, and we were also on the border of the West. So the presence of the Cold War was very, very strong, and it was communicated in a very colorful way, also. You see there Aldo Moro and [inaudible] Berlinguer, when finally in 1978, made a coalition government between the Communist Party and the Christian Democrat party, which was exactly the squeezing condition for Zevi's ideology of this secular liberal state. The third point is of course the politicization of Italian architecture. We know from the beginning, you all have read Jean-Louis books. I mean, all of you have written on this. We know that we could not understand a sort of Italian architecture if we don't look at it through the frame of political ideas. My first books were probably [inaudible] Tafuri on Quaroni. Tafuri would made a professor by Zevi and Quaroni, that's interesting. And Porta and Bonfanti, a very bad book, but with a lot of informations on BBPR. The last and problematic issue is that today, we still have to face suffering, bad condition for Italian architecture. It's not a good country for young architects. There's not a good place for architect to be considered from society. So for me, the reasons of this suffering condition are still to be found in the beginning of this history in the early post-war times. Or we have no architecture, or we have very little architecture. Sometimes architecture we could discuss. But the only thing people know around the world about Italian architecture today is our majesty, Renzo Piano, and the vertical forest by Stefano. The third point is, Zevi has of course-- as Michael was saying before-- has a proyecto historico. Proyecto historico is a sentence we learn with Tafuri, but actually Zevi has a very strong proyecto historico. And his proyecto historico was exactly in between politics and architecture. It was shaped by an ideological development he had while he was in America, in the years he was in Harvard. Six months in New York and then three years in Harvard working with these people that were the only kind of liberal, really liberal democratic socialist people in Italy, they didn't want to stay nor with the right wing Catholics, neither with the communists. So that's where Zevi wants to position himself. And Saber Ver La Arquitectura is the architectural translation of this point of view, looking at architecture trying to squeeze between the tradition of classicism, and let's say the fascist legacy in architecture. And on the other side, this hyper-functionalist legacy coming from Le Corbusier, which he didn't like at all in the end, or he liked it. And the result of all this, the synthesis of all this of was course, this idea of organic, an idea of organic which was not there actually in America. But it's an idea of organic is shaped giving his own reading of Frank Lloyd Wright, reading which was not present in America I would say, even in the GSD at the time. But organic architecture for him was exactly-- in 1938, Zevi gives his first public speech at this [non-english],, the fascist university meeting. And he finds this way to say things he could not say by supporting medieval architecture as the solution to this fight between modern and traditional. Organic becomes the next step. Organic is, for him, the solution of this opposition between the modern and the traditional. This project, which is the project that want to transform Italy into a democratic liberal country will be a failure. We all know it will be a failure. Of course, it will not be a failure only for Zevi, but it will be a failure for an import bunch of intellectuals like Olivetti-- which we see here with Bruno Zevi-- like Bobbio, like all the Italian, secular, progressive, liberal group of people that we're trying to define a country which had not to be yielding not to the Vatican and neither to the communist side. So it was a big defeat, but it was the defeat of a group which had their own political project. Comunita, of course by Olivetti, started as a cultural, architectural, sociological magazine and becomes a political movement. Il Mondo [inaudible] was a super interesting, super interesting newspaper, which was really representing the position of the of the only people which [inaudible] didn't want to take a place between the right and the left. And Zevi was going together with all these people. But this political project, this hypothesis collapse was defeated completely. But this kind of strange oppositions alliance that there was between the right wing and the left wing, Togliatti and De Gasperi, the two major figures of post-war Italy. The one-- De Gasperi, representing the Catholic tradition, an incredibly powerful presence of the Vatican in the definition of the political projects in Italy. And on the other side, Togliatti, which was trying to shape-- already trying to shape the Italian Communist Party with some difference compared to the Stalinist elections coming from Moscow. So these two political areas invaded the whole field and basically left no room, no possibility for this kind of liberal democratic project, which was Zevi's ideas. But the interesting thing is that the same phenomena we can see in politics basically happened also in architecture. This idea of an architecture of democracy, of an architecture of genius and talented architects who would build beautiful buildings, engaging the concept of space-- because Zevi is very much about space-- was never really winning in Italy. You had two possibility. On one side you have Luigi Moretti building the Watergate here. And Luigi Moretti was the favorite architect of this right wing Vatican fueled developers, the [inaudible] and many other companies that were basically building the country. Or on the other side, you had the Venetian utopia. So Venezia and this idea of, no to the intellectual individuality, no to the genius, yes to the design of the city, yes you utopia. Yes, I mean-- we are very, very-- we're cutting very hard because of the time. And Tafuri has a clear way to dismiss. Tafuri always pulled some words to dismiss this project using this terrible word, terzaforzista, which means somebody which is in between the two major lines. And it's a word they always used with contempt. Intelligencija is another slight message of contempt. So this idea for Tafuri, that these people would not take position pro or against Marxism, or pro or against the Catholic project was for him, a sign of a non-possible political, architectural, and aesthetic project. And so for Tafuri, the Olivetti is a problem, Zevi is a problem, Bobbio is a problem. Echo at a certain point is a problem. I mean, Vittorini of course, writes a lot and very well about this. But I think this is at the same time, the collapse of the political project which is still a problem for my country. And the collapse of an aesthetic and professional project that Zevi was carring on. So I think it's very interesting to reread the history of Italian architecture through Zavi's frame, because it allows us-- it helps us to bring out, to make these things very, very, very visible. Of course, Zevi was failed. I mean, Zevi's failure was luckily then a very productive failure, because he was a super activist, an incredible agent in many [? world. ?] In 10 meters of our exhibition, we find the work of a critic supporting the project of transit, of somebody running for elections, somebody writing books, an educator who leaves the university 15 years in advance, and so on. So Zevi is a lot of things. That's why it's difficult to compress it into a frame or into a slogan. But I think the most interesting part-- I think both Jean-Louis and I have been accused of dismissing a little bit the last period of his life, which we somehow did consciously. I think for us, the most interesting part goes from Metron, so 1945, to when he leaves the school, 1978, 1980. So the big success of post-modernism in Italy, which was a personal defeat for him. But then he was-- it was using all the medias. Now that's very interesting, because he was active in all the architectural medias. Reviews, writing on newspapers and weekly magazines, he's been writing on a spread, so for [non-english],, 50 years, [non-english] of columns. Associations, now the funding of CICA, we see [inaudible] also here. Operative criticism, there's no time here to start this discussion. But this would be a very interesting one. Q rating, I think Zevi was the first one in Italy who was doing historical exhibition in a curatorial way, in a completely different way there was before, like deconstructing the work of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Biagio Rossetti, and turning it into something else. Broadcasting, he founded the-- three months after free television was allowed in Italy, Zevi opened his own television and he broadcasted for three years from his house. That's the antenna on his house. Then running two elections, then communicating. Now we also-- [inaudible],, and [? petra, ?] and [inaudible],, wonderfully laying on a bed in Venice. But Zevi was already laying on a bed in television with Amanda Lear 20 years before. Then the last part, since we are at the end. What happens in 1978? Zevi leaves the university, [inaudible].. Zevi gets mad because he thinks that postmodernism is exactly the form in which society and architecture is defeating his project. And it becomes even more polemic, more against, more running. So just to close, three phases in his work, I would say. The first phase in his critical work goes from '45 to '59 and it's when he loves the architects that everybody loves. I mean, you would find them, Casabella, the same architects you would find on Metron. Then the second period, which is more interesting I think for us, from when he opens [inaudible] to the end of the '60s when he released this cunning and scouting for super interesting architects that were not accepted in the court of Tafuri. And then the last part, which is more or less a mess and where he kind of endures the new architecture from a very strange point of view. Sometimes more religious than architectural. That's it. This is only a few dates-- I mean, this is Italy today. And I think this political situation is still the problem of these things we've been discussing. Now and a few moments, and then I close. '45, the foundation of APAO, super important. And APAO-- I mean, when I went through a few things in this last year, I thought that the modern [inaudible] of APAO was the [inaudible],, because Zevi was six months of the [inaudible]. And APAO is a school, a journal, and an association. So I think there is a link. 1948, Zevi goes to Venice invited by Samona. Samona is putting up a new IUAV. And it's a IUAV which is extremely different by the one that would be then shaped by Tafuri from 1964. And then I thought we could do this lecture of the three ways of being Venetians, which I think we should do once. Then in 1960s, he founds the Instituto di Storia, and is the one who puts Tafuri on the chair in Venice. 1951, '54, La Martella, the Martella, it's both the biggest success of this Olivetti [inaudible] for architecture, but also the big defeat of a political project for the country. This is Zevi on the side where they were opening the village. I think La Martella is an underestimated project which should be studied longer. For me, it reminded me of some other things, very interesting that were happening in the world in the same time. And I think we should spend some times on that. '59 is the foundation of Inarch. Inarch is very important, I am sorry, because it's the-- Inarch session in Eric is proposing to the architects to build an alliance with developers. I mean, on one side, you have the Venetian school, the public client, the Italy of the peripheral, the suburban buildings. Zevi was inviting the architects and the investors together in Inarch because he thought that there would be an alliance, and this alliance would produce good architecture and democracy. The Studioasse, this is another incredible story of the jam session of the most interesting Roman architects trying to build the city with one project in 1967. It's probably the last moment when Zevi was at the center of the discussion for Rome, but also for the country. And then in 1978, he leaves the university 15 years before retirement. And a good way for optimism, and I leave the chair. And then he becomes a senator. And he becomes a senator in the same election was the famous porno star, and in the same party with the famous porno star, Cicciolina. This is the exhibition. I thank you. Sorry for running in this crazy way, but I thought it could be a nice frame for your more sophisticated papers. Grazie. [applause] [speaking italian] [inaudible] Somewhere in the same-- well, where is the book? The catalog? [inaudible] But there was an-- [laughter] Same topic. It was-- well, it was more like-- it was like [inaudible].. But then it-- [laughter] Yes, yes. One direction. [interposing voices] But then it's exactly the same, right? That the-- [inaudible] directions. Exactly. I'm actually talking about the first period which is very political. As you've seen, Zevi was always political. And I'm not touching about politics at all. So I'm really the counterpart. Because Zevi wanted to study literature and his father wanted him to become an engineer. So probably architecture-- thank you-- and writing about architecture was a good compromise. So my paper focus on his early writing. And what I basically took as a trilogy, his different tones and style, and mainly how it was basically part of a cultural panorama in Italy. So basically, starting in between the two World Wars, Zevi published three seminal books. 1945 is Verso un'architettura organica, translating in Towards an Organic Architechture in 1950. Saper vedere in '48, translate in Architecture as Space, 1957. And finally, Storia dell'architettura moderna, 1950, that's exactly when the first period of Zevi ends, which was never translated into English, but for instance in Spanish. So the three books were all published by Einaudi, his [? business ?] intern. And this demonstrated [inaudible] would change in historical narratives in just two decades. That happened not in architecture history, but also in literature, again, in Italy. And so Zevi turned the writing of architecture history into critical practice, one in which different narrative modes are intertwined with the making of history. And in other words, with social and political events. But again, it's not only related to his work. So first, history is narrated as myth, as an idealized reality. For Zevi, this is the myth of America pre-World War II, a new democratic world, and the architect of pioneers. And here is seen as right. Second is Saper vedere, data which is more a textbook, a guide to instruct a wider audience. The historian becomes a guide who educates and inform a larger public, not only a specialized audience, but also those general interested in architecture. So my mom read this book. Finally, and not without coincidence, after the war, public needed certainties. So Zevi aimed to write this reassuring and comprehensive story and covered 200 years of history. And again, he published this with the touring base, and now the publishing house that basically intended to target a wider public, not only architect. And similarly basically, Zevi was creating a architectural series for the publishing house, and having a scientific rigor, but the more approachable language. So Zevi first published in '45, Verso un'architettura organica. But during the '40s, Italian historians and literary critics had expressed their enthusiasm in the discovery of America considered as a United States. For instance, America primo amore, America, First Love by Soldati in '35. Obviously, the fascination with the pioneer in Chicago school and Frank Lloyd Wright, but also the narrative of Midwestern authors like Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow. And Elio Vittorini, which was, again, highly politically edited Americana, and saying that by discovering Midwestern American writers, we could actually understand Italy. And this is Italy at the edges. So it's like Turin, or Sicily, [inaudible].. It's not Venice, it's not Rome, it's not Milan. And also, now the publishing house is in Turin. But as Manfredo Tafuri would write, towards an organic architecture was the manifest not only of an historiographical choice, but also principle of action. So the books basically revises the history of modern architecture by promoting Wright as its ultimate hero, the poet of the prairies. Wright created the myth out of his fight to emancipate American architecture from European culture, so this reverse. But Zevi also saw in Wright the prehistory of modern architecture, the search for myth as primitive symbols that the mechanic civilization would otherwise repress and against the fascist myth. And it was obviously responding to Gideon, Mechanization Takes Command. And we can also see the very Italian attempt to find historical roots, even if geared towards basically a future practice. This book length essay, as Zevi described it, was written to amend that the historical perspective that most notorious histories, Storia, of modern architecture by [inaudible] had built. And that culminated in the names of [inaudible]. So he did basically the same by having Wright at the end of this progression. The subtitle in Italian reads, essay on the development of architectural thought in the past 50 years, and stresses the evolution of architectural thought when basically moving forward, but at the same time building history. And again, this is the Italian version. The English has a really different and presuppose a different reader. Zevi's book was a response to Gideon's Space, Time, and Architecture, but still was, according to his own word in the book preface, a chronicle rather than a history. And I'm here deviated to insert again Zevi's work in the '40s in Italy. So basically, in architecture and literature, the '40s are a farewell to the genre of chronicles. So in '46 and '47 for instance, Pratolini wrote two books present in chronicles. So Chronicles of Poor Lovers and Family Chronicle. And they were representative of a cultural trend. And while this is OK, this was basically before Cronache changed its name in [inaudible] and Zevi was writing a column, geared basically to-- well, in the UK, you would say the lay press. So general magazines. And so this was before [inaudible] changed the name. So it was all about chronicles. So like, you see the gossip. But the mid '50s, the genre of chronicles would become obsolete. So in '55, the same author of the chronicles published Metello, which was put together in a title, An Italian Story. So we are going towards stories and not chronicles anymore. That ratified the end of neorealism, which despite its cinematographic characters, probably true to life, black and white, and unembellished narrative, so basically chronicle. So this is the last book. But in '55, and this is the last-- mixing historical and fiction was not legitimate. So this is a famous-- The Leopard, which was rejected by Vittorini three times in '55 because mixing historical and fiction was not legitimate yet. Probably-- I mean, again, this is Italo Calvino. Early writing is also realist, so almost like a chronicle. This is one-- so he's basically-- first two books are not translated. It was-- really it was not Calvino's fault. But probably the last of his [? realist ?] is Plunge into Real Estate-- which I think is more interesting than Invisible Cities-- is effective as though truthful story about building construction and involved the construction boom and the building speculations of the '50s, and basically epitomizes his view on architecture. And they were reading each other. Even like, [inaudible],, they we're all with the [inaudible] publishing house, so Einaudi. It was conceived around '55, even if it's been published later. And they now, they had earlier suggested to actually title, Chronicles of the '50s. And then it actually shifted into the story, and then Calvino actually changed style in the effective as we know him. So going back to Zevi in '45, upon his return in Rome, Zevi opened a magazine Metron, which chronicled what was happening in architectural production. But sees it publication nine years later '54 when it started L'Architettura. Chronache e Storia, in which chronicles and basically storia, so both narratives are synthesized in the word architecture. In an article published in Metron in '49, Zevi further explained is that the right and not Gideon for introducing him to ideas about space? And I open a quote, "I will only mention-- I will limit myself to briefly mention a single point which seems the most important and in every way the most vital to architecture. I refer to this spatial conception. The great contribution of right has been to bring up the problem again specifically in terms of interior space." So to this respect, Wright's work is the prelude to Zevi's second major book, Saper vedere, whose literal translation is, how to look at the architecture, but has been translated as Architecture as Space. And this is actually-- is the exact translation whereas Towards. Is really different animal. So the book came three years later after Towards. It was a more deducted tool, a manner to guide and lead the reader toward the analysis and understanding of architecture and the attempt to define architecture as space. Saper verdere fits in the educational more than critical book in that Zevi foremost wants to instruct his audience what architecture is. Zevi opened the book by lamenting, obviously. And this has, according to Zevi, every book, every magazine lament an apology about basic architecture education and information that at that point are more or less the same. So they, the critics, lamented the public. And I'm quoting, "the public is interested in painting a music, sculpture, or literature, but not architecture. Anyone would be ashamed of not knowing a painting by Matisse or a poem by Eluard, but would be at ease in confessing they have no idea who Buontalenti or Neutra are." And I end the quote. So historians and critics can reverse this problem. It is the staff task of the historian to integrate architecture in a wider discourse. And that'd be to line with the other arts just like Benedetto Croce idealism implied and as it now intended. Nevertheless, the book maintained what the title promised, it served as a teaching tool, as a textbook in every university. I studied in Florence, so I read Zevi and I didn't read Tafuri. And to show past example, to encourage future project, even though without the same impact at least in Italy that on the larger public, that the 1950 Storia would later have. So Saper vedere is basically a collection of Italian architecture, but not a comprehensive historical survey yet. And the steps towards the Storia came when Saper vedere and its illustrative apparatus led to allow this publication plan for an historical architecture Atlas. So Storia begins as the revision of Two Words, so written in '45. So Zevi inform and now wished to print a new version of Towards since the book is now not only offers a new approach, but also the quality and interest of comprehensive text of history of modern architecture. Also, I would like to change this title to Organic Architecture instead Towards, Worlds, considering that organic is now a data and not only an approach. And in '48, the work, Towards, no longer applied. Also, propelling tendency towards the future had become the present, and myth become obsolete. Then Zevi suggested another title, and says, "I started the third and hopefully last version of Storia." Sorry, the previous was Modern Architecture From Functional to Organic. "The book is becoming a monumental work that will become independently from the values of its ideas a fundamental and essential tool to architecture students and scholars." So Zevi asked not to mention Towards. Because this book started as a revision of the first work, does not have anything to do with it any longer. Be now the comprehensive storia of 1 and 1/2 century. And I'm towards conclusion, so Zevi's Storia remains surprising and translating into English, even if the rewriting as we can think of it presents some reasonable points. Among Zevi's enjoyable pages of narrative as the [inaudible] label them, Zevi persistently distinguished between works of poetry and works of prose building versus architecture, namely literature. If the intent was that of write a comprehensive Zevi succeed in having these reassuring wide range in narrative that does not allow gaps or discontinuity, but achieve an integration of characters and movement. A history that ends, not a chronicle that terminates. And my time is almost over, but I basically-- the full version says, this is basically suggestive tale, account whose emissions owed much to still embryonic [inaudible] research and was there in judgment where some contradicted by fact. And indeed, Storia was probably more objective historical account for its author than for its reader. So the main contribution of Storia is really to try to stress the importance of history as a method to design architecture to be taught at the drawing table, insisting on integration between past history and present practice, adhering to the past to [inaudible] the present. So [? funding ?] the future is now gone, in 1950, as Zevi had emphasized in the preface of the book. And it represented the wider and most comprehensive achievement in architecture history so far. And this stayed at least in Italy for almost a decade with no competition. Because for instance, Pevsner was published in '45. [inaudible] in '83, Space, Time and Architecture translated in '54, and Benevolo only in the '60. So Zevi's Storia remained for long the last and only attempt in architecture history before the proliferation of multiple postmodern stories. Thank you. [applause] Oh, yeah. Thank you both, Daria. Thank you both. So the politician and the-- Yeah. Politician and the-- --and the writer. --and the writer. [laughter] Yeah. No, this-- I'm gathering my-- And I have something to say about Argan. OK. And also, you both talk really fast. So let me-- give me some time. I'm trying to bring the two-- Together? --together somehow. And also, let me say, for the front row, feel free to jump in immediately. Because it could be a very informal discussion. And I will turn to the audience as soon as I can. But I'm trying to construct something. And it has to do-- both of you mentioned in different ways, a kind of-- it's not exactly a third way, but a getting in between communism and tradition, Catholicism and communism-- I mean, sorry-- modernity and tradition, communism and Catholicism. And even Daria, I can't remember the words you used, but there was some sense-- not dialectic, but rather a more of a kind of middle, right? And I'm wondering, if Tiburtino-- you showed it very, very quickly. I know. Yeah. But if Tiburtino, which is a social housing-- [inaudible] Ina-Casa, yeah. Yeah. Ina-Casa in the '50s, early to mid '50s. And the brief mention of Superstudio in a way that other of Tiburtino somehow, but still both could be saw-- both modes could be saw as a critique of-- Yeah, it was. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. --pre-war modernism? And both having legacy that I would say could even-- certainly comes up to postmodernism with [inaudible] and [inaudible] on the one side-- Yeah, yeah. --and the historicist's on the other side. But did Zevi ever-- was he hanging on so much to the pre-war work of Wright and others that he couldn't-- and I know we're very late in his career, especially with Superstudio. But I'm thinking about before No-stop City, the work they were doing, the more conceptual work before No-stop City was already late '50s. So it's not completely incompatible, right? Did he not keep up-- were those two extremes? Because they seemed that they would lead him to a kind of renewal of what the future might be, rather than the-- it might have prevented the failure that you documented. Is that-- you see what I'm trying to setup? A different dialectic that comes later in his life, but in some ways at the peak of his power in terms of publicity, and propaganda, and in education, in some ways the peak of his power-- Yeah. --but did not enter into his thought, even though you both show it as part of the surrounding. Living in Florence, maybe Daria can answer better. Tiburtino is the-- let's say-- the manifesto of [inaudible].. Tiburtino is completely Zevi. I mean, Tiburtino is-- Ah. That is [inaudible]. All the architects that-- all the answers of Tiburtino are registered in Zevi's association. And of course, then he says he doesn't like it later. But also [inaudible] says he doesn't like it six years after [inaudible]. Tiburtino is something that Daria described very-- but sophisticatedly she didn't mention, Tiburtino is neo-realist, no? And neo-realist-- [inaudible] --was-- you know, we need to consider that Italy before the war, that the modernist architects had been working with the fascist. Traditional architects had been working with the fascists. So this idea of something, something looking for something which is always not here and neither there, but in between or somewhere else-- [interposing voices] --utopia, that's Tiburtino. So Tiburtino is the in-between. It's not-- Yes. Tiburtino is exactly the in-between. It is the in-between because it's vernacular, but it's not-- Oh, OK. OK. --I mean, monumental. It's modern but it's not abstract. And to add the-- Yeah. Then also you have the flood inside [inaudible].. Well, it also has the-- the Tiburtino was there to see this like, end of chronicle in architecture. In a sense it was used as like, set design in neorealism. And we shared this like, fake, simple, black and white chronicle of life. But then basically, it just stopped. Then on the other hand, Tiburtino, it's not a bad place to be. Yeah. Right. I mean, in the end, it works. I mean, if you live in Tiburtino today, you're not unhappy. I consider La Martella as the most sophisticated version of Tiburtino. Right. More interesting, but Tiburtino has an interesting side. Where I don't think Zevi had anything to do with Superstudio. I mean the-- No. --the connection point was [inaudible],, probably, in Florence? No, was Calvino. Or Calvino. Yeah. We hated Calvino in the '80s because he went with Portoghesi. [laughter] Of course, yeah. As basically Superstudio were leading everything Calvino. Calvino was editting all the architecture [inaudible] right. I see. So I want to say something to the audience-- Yes. --just because I'm not sure that all the students will even know Tiburtino. Yes, of course. So Tiburtino, Daria showed just a quick drawing. We can-- Didn't you? There's a picture. Should I put it? People put it well being in between vernacular and something more sophisticated modernism. But in the United States, it leads pretty directly to one version of-- Yeah. There is realism in America, no? Yeah. Yes. At least in continental America, yeah. [interposing voices] The explanation for the Tiburtino is-- I mean, the typical explanation for the Tiburtino is the neorealist then an area, cinema. This country does this film on the Sicilian fishers. The film wants to refuse, to reject the intellectual language and it's spoken in dialect. And finally, nobody understands. So the Italian films had to be subtitled to go to the Italian cinemas. So the criticism that Tafuri does to Tiburtino is similar. That Tiburtino is not actually the popular language, but is the popular language made up by the intellectuals. Where in the end, I think the criticism is a little bit-- I mean, Tiburtino is not a bad project. Of course there is ambiguity. But it was a good idea, I think, to do that experiment to that point. Yeah. Yeah, if you wanted just to show the-- Yeah. In the States, just to get-- it ends up with something partially by people teaching at GSD, some of the Argentines for example. Yeah. Jorge Silvetti, but also the influence of Agrest and Gandelsonas. It ends up as a certain kind of-- yeah-- a certain kind of postmodernism, even at the GSD-- Yeah. --the influence. And would ultimately, yeah, be much more influential than-- Number two of Metron, issue number two a Metron, there is an article called, The Postmodern House. That's interesting. Oh, by-- And he was just-- and he's just back from there. [inaudible] You remember. [inaudible] He was just back from Harvard. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah. So what this actually-- this, the postmodern house, which is a kind of-- it's also a kind of anti-urbanist. It's a lament of the state of the city in Europe and the United States. This leads me to another question, which I think is related, but I can't say how yet. And when you talk about the construction of myth, that Zevi-- that he-- myth is going to lead to a solution, myth is not going to be the solution. It's a way that he-- Progressive. He's writing himself into a description of a solution, right? And I love the idea that he doesn't have the idea of a solution that he then describes in writing. He uses writing to find it. To find it. And I think that's a very important point of your work. But does the myth of the American prairie, which is the myth that an American would-- at least one of the myths that Americans could associate with Wright, that Wright is right for, Wright is correct for-- And Wright is wrong. --America in a way-- Yeah. --that would be impossible in Europe-- Yeah. --after the war. So I'm trying to figure out, does that arise as a contradiction or as a disturbance? Because it's so prominent in the other-- in the ways other historians treat Wright. [inaudible] [inaudible] You can start. No, I think-- I always [inaudible]. I think for Zevi, Frank Lloyd Wright is on one, on one aspect of rhetorical device, which Daria has more or less started to frame. But it's also this idea of a displacement. I mean, if you consider Wright in the American space, it's that, no? It's the single man in the prairie. For the European scenario, Frank Lloyd Wright was that relationship between the human and the environment, which was missing in modernism. That's what Zevi was looking for in Frank Lloyd Wright. And then it was theory of space. They open [inaudible]. Theory of space was-- nobody has that, this idea of space. I mean, people like Superstudio, Tafuri, or Peter Eisenman, space is nowhere in these people. Zevi, two people had space in Zevi's life, Frank Lloyd Wright and Luigi Moretti. So he had to speak to Moretti-- although Moretti was a damn fascist-- because Moretti was the only one who could understand space. And Zevi looks for space when he looks for Frank Lloyd Wright. And he looks for this continuity between the human and the space, which then becomes the seven in [inaudible] to make it in more like a cartoon way. Yeah. But it's also like, I think this idea of democracy and [inaudible]. But the organic, which I think Alicia is touching more on that, but is becoming the anti-myth. So again, it's basically the fascist monument in this developing basically the open space. The thing that probably didn't mention then, again comes into place, the other-- the Germans call, introducing [inaudible] [? regal. ?] I forgot. [? regal, ?] Zettelmeyer, yeah. For Zevi, mainly it's Argan, but also like [inaudible].. But I wanted to go back to the duality. I wouldn't think about Zevi as [inaudible] duality, but more with-- like [inaudible] with a recurring theme. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That like, with a spiral. OK. Not a-- Not as-- Not a a Hegelian-- It's not a dialect. Not Hegelian, there's nothing dialectical, but it's more like something becomes something else. And then by [inaudible] becoming something-- Oh, I like that a lot. I like that a lot, yeah. Which is-- Yeah. Yes. This is for the dialectics of Hegel revisited. I think that Zevi-- and we'll get back to that later-- was a weaver. He was crossing threads. And here, I think what Daria said about the American roots of neorealism is very important. Yes. One has to frame the passion Zevi had for Wright within the broad framework of Americanism. Yeah, yeah. [inaudible] Zevi is what [inaudible] was called the trans-atlantic Italy. Yeah. Yeah. Which is a very broad pattern, and it starts in the '30s already when Casabella sends Pagano to Los Angeles. And he writes on [inaudible],, when Percy Gore writes about [inaudible] in architecture, but also in literature, in cinema, in politics, and its very broad framework within fascism. Both within fascist and within antifascist. And Zevi is caught. In a way, we've seen-- you've mentioned Zevi's politics. Olivetti is the agent of a new deal in the post-war American institutions. Right. Yes. He's the one who pushes to a translation of Lewis Mumford, who is extremely important for Zevi. And Zeiv is at a crossroads where it is very interesting moment in the early '60s. Let's talk about the third force, these [inaudible] aspect which was condemned by Tafuri. Zevi is in the center because Zevi is the one who organized a meeting-- correct me if I'm wrong-- between-- Yeah, yeah, yeah. There was once [inaudible]. --Pietro Nenni, who's the leader of a Socialist Party and the American ambassador where Nenni convinces that the Socialist Party entering in a coalition with the Christian democracy, exactly for third force was not going to go against America's interests. So Zevi in a way, and his wife Tullia-- Tullia more than Zevi. --create this setup of a stage where the third force-- Yeah, totally. --is discussed in concrete terms. So you have to see being also behind the Tafuri/Zevi relationship of the [inaudible] fights of the Italian left. Absolutely. And I wanted to say one thing about the myth, which is, it's also-- and we'll talk again, Tony will get back to that. We'll talk again about Tafuri versus Zevi, Zevi versus Tafuri. It was very interesting, very interesting series of fights, sort of trench war that lasted for decades. But at some point, Zevi made Tafuri-- Tafuri's critique was that Zevi, you had produced myths. Was indulging not in chronicles or history, but in mythology. And so Tafuri tried to demythify the historical discourse. And Zevi answered by saying it should be time to demystify the discourse of demystification. So it goes in a full circle. Only a few things. Zevi leaves Venice because of that. Zevi-- this is important also in terms of the history of education. Zevi leaves Venice because after this meeting with Schlesinger and Nenni in Tullia's house. In Zevi's house there is the first center left coalition, so the third part exists. And he leaves Venice because he wants to be in Rome close to the government. So he moves from [inaudible] to La Sapienza. And then the piano di Roma, the master plan of Rome is the result of this situation. And then the [inaudible] is the last part. And Tafuri takes over the history of the institute of the study in Venice because Zevi moves to Rome and chooses Tafuri as his successor, failing Benevolo, which was the Catholic guy in this fight. So that's very important. The other thing is, I think that still, I mean the only way, the only moment Italy tried to escape this dialectic was [inaudible]. And in fact, it didn't work. Because the two poles wants to survive against everything. They want even to kill the country rather than giving up to the possibility of a liberal democracy in Italy. And architecture was being killed within this frame, basically. [non-english] I want to come back to this notion of space and try to feel it in a little more tactile corporeal way. You briefly showed a slide of-- can we ask Matthew to bring back-- there's a slide of wire models. Oh. I have it, but it's my presentation. It's your presentation? No, that was his. Oh, it's not your presentation. No. Oh, it doesn't matter. It was Michelangelo. Michelangelo. [interposing voices] -- on Michelangelo. Yeah. But that's the other-- yeah. So if you remember, it came very fast. But there were domes and pendants and things that Michelangelo modeled in wire. Yeah. So I want to have that image. And I want to imagine he-- I think he never did-- but I want to imagine if he modeled some late Frank Lloyd Wright with wire, if he modeled, and put that in your head. One of our PhD students, Natalia Escobar is looking at the work of Lina Bo Bardi. And Zevi actually wrote Bo Bardi-- writes Bo Bardi-- no, he-- They do a magazine together. They do a magazine, yeah. [inaudible] And he describes her work, he describes it like it's almost like a dataist collage. I mean, the Sesc Pompeia, he describes it in terms of-- oh, these are the models I'm thinking. Bravo. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. The models. But imagine Guggenheim or something like that modeled in these wires. And then imagine the Sesc Pompeia when he sees it. He sees it in much more material terms, much more-- I would almost say a heterogeneity, almost a collage like. And I think he uses the word, the shock of the experience. But in a good way, in a good way. [inaudible] Because I'm Italian, I'm [inaudible] interrupting. Is there something-- Tony was whispering that once you abstract the Baroque, or Bernini, or Michelangelo, if you abstract it down to wire, it becomes much more palatable as a precedent. And I'm wondering, but does it also evidence a corporeality and the materiality that he's after and what he calls organic that we're somehow missing because we abstract it too much? This is my point. That's a good [inaudible]. Yeah. This is my point. That's a very good question. Yeah. [inaudible] Now I have a question for people apropos this image of the [inaudible] exhibition on Michelangelo-- Architetto. Architetto. --slight semantic difference, architect, organized at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in-- 1964. --1964 with Portoghesi. Portoghesi. So at that time, Portoghesi who was working-- They were friends. --on Borromini in particular, was-- and Zevi were close. Is it possible to read these models as a sort of response to the analytical models, Moretti-- Moretti, I think so. [inaudible] Yes. There is-- [interposing voices] There is this German president who was this [? berkman. ?] What this guy was doing similar. I think they both refer to it. No, because Moretti was making. And these were very important models which were discussed in an early [inaudible] of oppositions in this country. Yeah, yeah. A long time ago. yeah. They were figure ground reversals. They were solid. They were solid. They modeled the space as solid. So in this inversion between solid and void, as in the Moretti/Zevi polemic embodied. [interposing voices] I think Moretti-- Tony. I think the-- Sorry. I think they both-- I'll get you back. There is this German architect in the '20s who does this work of-- I think [? berkman ?] is his name. They both refer to him. But I think Moretti, the difference is Moretti introduces mathematics in this discussion. And Alicia could speculate on that. But I mean, one sentance is that Zevi, through this work done by the students in Venice, he wants to move the discussion on language from the decoration to the space. Now that's what the models are made for. In the process, destroying the space, right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. What interests me is if the Moretti is solid, he's like pouring-- casting the interior volume is a solid block, this is completely evaporating the space itself. Yeah. But the one thing in the middle that they're both refusing is Le Corbusier volume. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The idea of a volume which is projected from a plan which is then conceal wrapped in a surface. The three elements of to what's in the architecture, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the volume-- [interposing voices] --of space only disappears in Corbusier much later, when that's passed on to [? siebler ?] in the 1930s. Because Corbusier never uses the word space until 1933. Yes, yes, exactly, exactly. He only uses the word volume. Yeah, yeah. Zevi says that he changes the Gideon sequence now and puts [inaudible] before Frank Lloyd Wright. And I think Zevi achieves another result here, which is historiographical. He tries to demonstrate through this analytical work that history is a horizontal condition. I mean, we are all contemporary. By taking away the language, the linguistic thing, these things are contemporary. And Zevi's idea is that we are contemporaries of Michelangelo, [inaudible]. So the models work very well also in that sense. It's culture. I have to bring Daria back in, I cut you off, sorry. Which is a really [inaudible] to [inaudible].. Yeah, of course, of course. But no, it was I think for the sake of clarity, maybe something that has to be clear is, he was from Rome. Very Roman. Yeah. [speaking italian] OK. Even if maybe intellectually isn't [inaudible],, sometimes we call it a riot. Is it was embedded in these buildings. And so it is mainly about creating space by carving space instead of adding. It's almost in a sculptural way. And I think it permeates the way he writes, even if he's not always acknowledging [inaudible].. This is one. The second one was talking about the space of Wright. There's a typological idea also. Like Zevi, for instance, it looks at the chimneys as this idea of domestic fire. Or talk at the end about happiness. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think there's a whole light side of Zevi that get raised. But-- For Daria, I would like-- also it's important for me, I think the way Zevi builds his language comes from politics. Yeah. Oh, interesting. The first times he speeches-- It is true. Yeah. --he does public speech, it's always in political frames. Wow, wow. In [inaudible],, then the radio for the antifascists in London, the radio here in America. So his rhetoric is built in the political frame. But also it is trying to bridge, which is again, a time of specific of having [inaudible].. I mean-- Yeah, yeah. That also be understandable. Yeah. [inaudible] Go straight to the point. Different audiences. And also, I think this could be interesting for the students. Jean-Louis can say much better these things. Zevi, he is a 20th century intellectual. He is controversial. I think we definitely miss the possibility of being controversial today, especially in academia in the world of architecture. The 20th century intellectual is controversial because you need to have a counter position to get there [inaudible] to a point. And I think this is something we miss very much. And also, Zevi considers politics something that has to get to results in life. So the architect, the professor, the designer goes out of the school and practice politics because he wants to change the situation in real life. So these are two strong difference, big difference of what the situation is today. And I think would be interesting to see how people react to a condition like [inaudible].. Let's turn to the audience for a question or a comment. Yeah? Take the mic so we-- yeah. While you're on the subject of politics, I've always been curious why more architects don't get into politics. And there seems to be a difference between the United States and a lot of the-- you know, like Mexico, or Argentina, or Italy. Latin culture. And in 1961, I met with Burno Zevi at the suggestion of Henry Russell Hitchcock and Professor Garland. And I'm just realizing why. He offered me to work in his studio. Yeah. And I decided to come to the GSD instead. But I'm realizing now-- Good choice. --was because of the political orientation that I probably had at the time. And I wonder now, why do not-- what is your idea about that? Well, I mean, we have a kind of original sin. [inaudible] I mean, the heroes of Italian architecture got jobs directly from power in Italy. So the relation between architecture and politics was built first-- I mean, if you go to the Romans, we can go back. For modern names, it was built in fascism. And I mean, the main client for the Italian architect till a few years ago is always been the public client. So architecture was welfare. And being welfare, architecture is coming from the power and so through politics. The Italian architect is not even able to speak to the client traditionally, because the job will come to him through politics. To do the master plan of a city in Italy till 10 years ago, you had to have an architect from the the Catholic party, an architect from the Communist Party, an architect from the Republican Party, an architect from the Socialist Party, and an architect from the Liberal Party. And of course, the smallest the party, the more jobs you got. No? So the reason why when you read Gregotti you don't understand a word, it's because Gregotti does not need to be understood. Because the jobs will come to him through-- the mayor of Urbino will appoint [inaudible] or Giancarlo De Carlo, because Tafuri, who is the politically credited critic tells him this is a good guy, give him a job. The job will go there even if they don't need it. So many of the works of our masters are ruins today because they were built for the pleasure of-- it's like patronizing, no, to mention [inaudible].. So all the-- most of the work in architecture was distributed through politics. And when Cardella or these guys will do a single family house in the '50s or '60s, they didn't show it too much because it was not politically correct to do work for the private capitalist, building a house for him. That's quite right with the [inaudible].. So the narrative was public, the narrative was political. I went into architecture school because I wanted to change the world. I didn't go to architecture school because I felt I was talented. In fact, I was not talented and I'm a curator today. But-- [laughter] But I think we felt that architecture was the easiest way to change the world. And Zevi is a completely-- no, as Daria said, he chooses between literature and engineering because architecture is art, it's politics, it's [inaudible] work, it's construction. So I think we are trying to-- And it was not [inaudible]. --to liberate our architecture community from this now. But it's very, very difficult. And we have some Italian architects who could tell you about. But I think Zevi is completely within this frame. So the intellectual is-- and Jean-Louis wrote a wonderful book on this-- the intellectual is the filter between the power and the agency of the artist, the architect, or sometimes even the writer, no? It's an interesting story. But we're still paying the bill for this. OK, you may be liberated from it, but maybe we're too liberated from it. No no, I know, I know. But not in Italy. And I agree, but not in Italy. We have time for one last question or comment. Or comment is fine as well. Yeah? [inaudible] Just because we were sort of talking about the nature of Zevi's writing, I thought that it would be interesting to-- I mean, I think it's great that this photograph is there. Because as I said, when I was at the exhibition, I found this aspect of Zevi's creativity the most inspiring. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Because it's not a traditional exhibition. It doesn't have a linear narrative. It combines the idea of an unusual kind of model, which is a frame with photographs as fragments and the enlarging of the photographs, for example, to be able to look up and see the roof of a building, or something like this. So the fact that the exhibition is also a very particular kind of construct intellectually, and it doesn't really come then from the point of view of architectural history, necessarily. It's really an architect's sort of-- [inaudible] --deconstruction of a kind of architectural body. And so, just because also, Michael, you were saying all the things that we do at the GSD or we don't, in terms of the reading like Zevi, I've got the Architecture as Space in front of me, and How to Look at Architecture. And you see that there is the contents, and the content has this kind of interpretive character to it, from space through the ages, where it's also not a narrative way of describing architectural history, which is one thing. But then you have the role of photographs and the role of drawings. Drawings are more conventional. But when you talk about when you have the list of photographs-- Yeah. --the photographs are very deliberate. You know, they're extremely deliberate. And therefore, I would say that this is also seen from the perspective of an architect who is looking for specific conditions through photography. So he has titles like, architecture without internal space, which is probably the list of monuments, or surface and volume as represented in photographs, or interplay of volumes as represented in photographs, and so on. And so I think there is something very important in a way-- And the captions. --about-- yeah-- about the way in which the book is also a specific construct and the relationship between text and the photography as a way of really presenting this idea of how one should look at architecture. So I would say, it's different in a way thab Tafuri, but it's also a very different-- I mean, it's a very productive way of reading architecture if you're not necessarily focused only on the text but on the interrelationship between the text, the photograph, and the drawing. But there's also a really like, contingent-- I think it was the exchange he had with Einaudi. So what a book could sell and what a book could not. So like, the shift between how to look at architecture in Storia was exactly because Einaudi was thinking about an atlas of just pictures with just captions. And that's one, also. I mean, it seems like-- I mean, it is a concept, but it's also working with someone, Einaudi that was publishing Calvino, Argan, and Arquitectura. But I think motion is-- So the caption is-- Motion is-- I don't know how you say in English-- is putting the finger on a bleeding wound. Because in the Zevian world, they are so taken by these kind of antagonist, polemical aspect of Zevi. Then there's no real investigation on this issue of how he uses photography, which is enormous. And not exhibitions, which are the first, I would say, contemporary approach to exhibitions in Italy, and probably in Europe. They [inaudible] in a good sense, [inaudible] in our contemporary sense. So I think these are two aspects that are very much understudied, under-investigated in Zevi. And I think he's really an editor in a completely new way. I'm hearing some dissertation topics. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was about to say, that's-- [interposing voices] Shall we get a question, the last question? [inaudible] expertise. Last question? From the guy. [interposing voices] Thank you. I was about to say that. So sure, Zevi was a politician and an intellectual. But he's also a Jewish intellectual and a Jewish politician in the 1930s and '40s and beyond in an environment that was very unfriendly, to say the least, to that. So I'm surprised that his ethnicity and his faith has not come up beyond what Mohsen said in the beginning. I was wondering if maybe you can comment on how that perhaps shaped his career and his writing. All right. Thank you. You were missing [inaudible]. [interposing voices] The second panel-- Yeah. There's a second panel. The second panel will address that. I'll be there. It's a very complex issue. Yes. It's not excised from our discussion. I will mention it quite a bit in my final paper. So I think you'll hear about it. And it's very complex. And for me, a very troubled one. I just want to say one thing about Zevi's combination of visual and verbal rhetorics. I think that a major, major training ground for him was broadcasting. So he's-- [interposing voices] I believe this. He's someone who-- he didn't start his life as an intellectual being a teacher as everyone does in general. He started being an agitator. An agitator. And Zevi the agitator is a very important component. So he continued to agitate using images, but at the same time, with very focused sense of the formula. And this came from his political experience which was a real one in a difficult moment. Yeah. True. We're going to take a break. Pamela, Paige, remind me when we should be back to resume panel two? So please be back at 3 o'clock. We'll take a break now. And thanks to our first two panelists. [inaudible] Thank you very much. [applause]


Major works

Among Asplund's most important works is the Stockholm Public Library, constructed between 1924 and 1928, which stands as the prototypical example of the Nordic Classicism and so-called Swedish Grace movement. It was particularly influential on the proposal submitted for the competition for the design of the Viipuri Library in 1927 by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who regarded Asplund as his mentor.[2]

Another important work is the extension of the Gothenburg Courthouse Extension building which Asplund started on 1913 and finished 1937 - it shows his transformation from neo-classical to functionalist architect, a transformation in parallel with other European modernists like Erich Mendelsohn.

Asplund collaborated with architect Sigurd Lewerentz in the design of Skogskyrkogården, a cemetery which is a UNESCO world heritage site, created between 1914 and 1940. They were also the main architects for the temporary Stockholm International Exhibition (1930). Although temporary, the modernist, exposed-glass-and-steel-frame Entry Pavilion at the fair was internationally influential. In fact, it was influential already before its completion, having an influence on the much smaller Turku Fair in Finland, designed by Alvar Aalto and Erik Bryggman, who had travelled to Stockholm to see its construction.[3]

Gunnar Asplund is considered perhaps the most important modernist Swedish architect and has had a major influence on later generations of Swedish and Nordic architects.[4]

Our architectonic concept of space

The lecture "Our architectonic concept of space" was delivered in 1931 on the occasion of Asplund being appointed professor of architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Asplund published few theoretical texts. The lecture was later regarded as an important contribution to the attitudes of Asplund, as well as others of his generation, towards the architectural problems of the time. The lecture has its background in the then well known 2-volume book by German philosopher Oswald Spengler "The decline of the West" (1918 and 1922).[5]



  1. ^ Gunnar Asplund, "Our architectonic concept of space", reproduced in "Swedish Grace: Modern classicism in Stockholm", International Architect, No. 8, vol. 1, Iss.8, 1982.
  2. ^ Alvar Aalto Arkkitehti / Architect 1898-1976. Helsinki, Rakennustieto / Alvar Aalto Säätiö, 1998.
  3. ^ Schildt, G. (1984) Alvar Aalto: The Early Years, Otava:Helsinki. ISBN 084780531X.
  4. ^ On Gunnar Asplund at the Swedish National Encyclopediae website (in Swedish, password needed)
  5. ^ Gunnar Asplund, "Our architectonic concept of space", reproduced in "Swedish Grace: Modern classicism in Stockholm", International Architect, No. 8, vol. 1, Iss.8, 1982, pp. 40-41.

External links

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