According to TRAVELATIONARY, the time span that goes from the mid-seventies to the early nineties in architecture sees an operational sentiment very different from that which had characterized the previous decades, reaching maturity in the world and in Italy Now that “time of change” is stabilizing, which at the beginning of the 1960s Ph. Johnson had announced, in its germinal moment, enthusiastically signaling its “wonderful freedom”, the “unlimited possibilities to explore” connected to the end of “time. ideology “and” fixed rules “. But this announcement, which blatantly broke the dominant rationalist climate of the International Style spread by modernism on most of the American and non-American architectural production, almost prophetic for that cultural area, on the other hand, for Italy, it fell on a situation which had already begun to transform with respect to the orthodoxy of rationalism. In fact, reviewing them with the separation of the decades, the events of Italian architecture, from the second post-war period to today, appear strongly characterized by tensions and dissatisfactions aimed at further outcomes: beyond the rationalism that the postwar period was spreading in the main cultural areas of the world.
Among the most sensational results “ beyond rationalism ” there were in fact experiences such as the “ alpine ” culture of the Pirovano Refuge by F. Albini (1949-50), or the “ Gothicism ” of the Velasca Tower in Milan by EN Rogers (1958), the ” Venetian character ” of the Casa alle Zattere by Italy Gardella (1954-58), the ” baroque ” popularism of M. Ridolfi, the severe Roman ” monumentality ” of the Auditorium (1951) by S. Muratori. These were soon joined by some research by the new generations: such as the large ” gothic ” ribbed roof of the Turin Stock Exchange by Gabetti and Isola and by G. Raineri (1952-56) and the first ” neo-liberty ” architectures ‘by Gabetti and Isola, by V. Gregotti, by G. Canella and by G. Aulenti.
Beyond the results and setbacks of those researches, it is in the long term that the deepest meaning of Italian particularity must be traced today, consisting perhaps in the will – diffused in various ways, but constant – and in the intuition of an overcoming of some aspects of Modernity: as an age of the exaltation of the New, firm faith in progress. In fact, a constant feature of the research will be the struggle for a resumption of contact with the non-modern tradition, together with a continuity with the modern. And, in the pre-modern tradition, the re-emergence of the positive and vital existence of common rules, of constants – a sort of fundamental ” ethical ” platform proper to human nature – whose existence does not take away the validity of new human facts ; just as ethical norms do not take away free subjectivity but establish it. That is, rules capable of subtracting subjectivity itself from the connotation of exasperated individualism, which is specific to the time of the Modern, to found it in a communal way in the name of the “concrete community of communication” (KO Apel, quoted in Penati 1990).
The gap between new Italian research and rationalist culture seems to open up on two basic problems: the need to get out of the cages of abstractionism and that of recovering from architecture that ontological-revealing depth, which has always been a heritage of traditional architecture. but burned by the formative procedures of functionalism.
In fact, the abstracting processes affected both the basic elements of architectural language – regressed to a pure plane, a pure surface, a pure geometry – and the further expressive elements typical of architectural form (architectural orders, archetypes, symbolic sequences, etc.). It is no coincidence that Muratori’s denunciation of the “abstracting rationality” was made, which charged it with the modern dissolution of the organism as a constitutive unit of the factory, the dissolution of the structure as a constructive connective system, the dissolution of the city.
On the other hand, the work of L. Kahn aimed at the recovery of the ontological depth, after the exhaustion of functionalism, with authority and with very high results. – of the rediscovery of the truth of being which is contained, which is inherent, in the single architectural theme from which each new organism to be created originates. Identification of identity of what the American master defines as the profound “institutions” of the theme, in a word, has the meaning of a rediscovery of the depth and human value that every architectural object must contain. Starting from this rediscovered identity and depth, the perilous procedure of the project starts, it chooses the paths to follow.
The most immediate way of overcoming the abstracting rationality developed in Italy in the 1970s, as well as in the ways – which soon became ” fashions ” – of A. Rossi and G. Grassi, is the one that with the most immediate determination decrees the “end of prohibition “, according to a definition by P. Portoghesi, towards the history of pre-rationalist architecture, allowing for a free use of historical memory. This is precisely the line that has been advocated and carried out in the critical activity and in the planning one, since the beginning of the Sixties, by P. Portoghesi; which first, after the publication in Casabella (1957) of the first works of Gabetti and Isola and the manifest perplexity of EN Rogers – consequent to the criticisms expressed on those works -, defends those positions and divulges further developments by coining the critical definition of Italian neoliberty.