According to USAERS, the reference to the different positions of Gabetti and Isola, of Rossi, of Portoghesi, of Grassi – the characters who most influenced the resistance to the modernist attempt of the Sixties to block the climate of ” free exit ”, initiated in Italy in the previous decade – allows us to hint at what we believe to be one of the main nodes around which research revolves ” beyond Modern ”: the problem of the different and varied modality with which memory gives substance to the recovery of the story, of which it was said. It has become an easy critical formula in Italian and foreign publications – especially through the writings of Ch. Jenks – a definition that sees in classicistic poetics the defining formula of the new climate. We believe that the use of the category of ” classicism ” is a source of many misunderstandings: that it lends itself to interpreting part of the research in progress, but that its applicability should be limited, under penalty of extreme vagueness. First of all about the basic attitude, which presents a very wide range of modalities through which the recovery of history takes place: from real classicism to baroque modes, to folklore modalities, to recovering the construction traditions of architectural craftsmanship and basic architecture that characterize the Italian building heritage (that of the agricultural landscape, or of the villages, or of the historical urban fabric). For all this complex quality of pre-modern heritage, the truest critical category is therefore not that of ” classicism ”, but that of ” tradition ”, within which the line of classicism is also placed. In fact, the concept of tradition contains in itself, much more than that of classicism, that component which at the same time roots the new and frees it, and which is particularly useful in starting new formative processes.
While the category of classicism is more strictly connected to a severe and precise set of rules and training procedures, towards which an implementation connection is almost obligatory due to their strength and exemplarity, instead the category of ” tradition ”, rich as it is in formative hypotheses and less binding in formal institutionality, it leaves a wider recreational oscillation to the operation of recovery and development of the starting point. In fact, it takes the form of trading, of things “almost by hand brought to us” by those who preceded us in time, which is an operation free from rigid codifications; heritage lived, received, to be revived,
Therefore, the concept of ” tradition ” is not only much more comprehensive than the previous one, but allows the post-modern research to be collected in unity together with a subsequent more detailed articulation of the same. In other words, the movement away from Modern is strongly unitary towards a reconnection of architectural research with the historical tradition of pre-rationalist architecture; but this cyclical turning point then takes place according to multiple formative lines.
They range from those with a more marked “ high ” caliber and mostly related to the modalities of classicism – but there are others that recover conformative systems from the Baroque, from Mannerism, from the Middle Ages, from the Late Antiquity – to those that instead recover content and requests from the almost ” timeless ” architecture of urban architectural fabrics, or that revisit archetypes and formative stimuli deposited in the Italian rural tradition. With all the possible intertwining of the different ways reported. In the Italian case, the mingling matured with the new project almost always occurs, except for the few paths of archaeological and ” quotationistic ” definition of traditional forms, starting from the tradition of the modern and the less random qualities of the researches developed by the masters,
It is no coincidence that Gabetti and Isola, who were among the very first to have worked on the opening “ beyond the Modern ”, are extraneous to the declamation of classicism and from time to time they swing their research from a sensitive attention to the character of ” places ” to an ever-renewed reading of the conformative and formal tradition of the Piedmont area. From the stucco framing of the windows in the Church of Montoso (1963) taken up in the Town Hall of Bagnolo Piemontese (1975-80); to the ” floating ” roofs of the tower houses in the Vica di Rivoli district (1983-88), derived from the alpine buildings of the Aosta Valley in which suggestive wooden roofs are juxtaposed to the heavy basal body in masonry; the recovery of the Aosta Valley craftsmanship of wood carpentry in the Bagnolo Piemontese dairy (carried out with G. Drocco, 1980-82); at the high level of the Carmelite Monastery at Quart in Valle d’Aosta (with G. Drocco, 1985-88). All in natural consonance with the more technologically engaged forms of the large windows in the large underground circle of the Olivetti residential unit in Ivrea (1969-74) or in the inventions of the long methacrylate loggias, sparkling in the sun, in the Sestrière residential complex (1976 -78).
The intensity and bewilderment produced by the change, in this phase of overcoming the Modern, are denounced by the detectable break in the personal paths of some architects – even of considerable cultural stature -, protagonists of the time of Italian rationalism; who at times then tried to make the new emerging themes their own.