In Some Cities Of Italy, European Planning Fails, According To Mario Cucinella In WAF 2019

10 Jun 2020

3 min

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) has shared its seventh keynote of Italian architect, designer and academic Mario Cucinella, Founder of Mario Cucinella Architects from the WAF 2019 stage. WAC releases these exclusive lectures each week as part of WAC’s media partnership with WAF.

WAF’s 2019 talks & keynotes series bring exclusive talks of outstanding architects to audience who was not able to participate to the festival in 2019. 

Following the releases of Elizabeth DillerMassimiliano FuksasEva FranchBen van BerkelPeter Cook‘s keynotes and Petra Blaisse‘s keynotes, Cucinella discusses the challenges that the architects, urban planners and engineers will face in the near future.  Focusing on “sustainability” and “performance” in his presentation, the architect stated that the design of building based on the climate factors has already existed in the past, and in fact, is nothing new and architects have forgotten that information which already exists in the past. 

“In the rest of Italy, architects are not in the picture”

Speaking about the importance of urban planning in cities, Mario Cucinella stated that in some cities of Italy, European planning fails. “I think European planning fails. In Italy, there are some cities that have plans from 1984 and the cities still use that plan, which is completely out of date,” said Mario Cucinella during the conversation with Paul Finch, Programme Director of WAF. 

Now, all these ideas of climate change, reducing temperature in city and all these fundamental elements of urban planning are not part of the policy – not yet. Milan is the only city doing that because it is booming and the Mayor and the City are a group and are fighting strongly, they are asking to architects. I think in the rest of Italy, architects are not in the picture. The last contemporary building designed in Italy is Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI Museum in Rome,” Cucinella added.

In his 40-minute keynote, Cucinella’s presentation focused on the understating of the past and the present and how the architects took the knowledge from climate of the contexts to design sustainable buildings. 

“We completely forgot the relationship with nature and the empathy with climate, because we build building that have no relation with climate at all. For too many years of technologies, architects forgot the knowledge and now the climate presents the bill: an increasing of pollution everywhere,” said Cucinella. Buildings produce almost the 50% of the C02 emissions. Green Architecture will be a balanced hybrid of technological innovation and empathy with the climate. It throws a bridge towards the past, rediscovering and intimate complicity with nature.”

“Modernity in the last 200 years is cut the bridge with our past,” continued Cucinella. “I’m not nostalgic, but we did it for a century building. For the future, we need to rethink how to make energy-zero buildings.Maybe talking about sustainability, we need to rebuild the bridge of our history and how we were able to do that for centuries?,” he added. “Architects completely forgot the knowledge of climate. Engineers try to solve architects’ problems but together it doesn’t work.”

In his presentation, the architect showed images and examples from his studio’s latest projects and how their design approaches addressed the key factors of sustainability, including Unipol Group New Headquarters in Milan, Italy, 2015 (solar radiation), Sino Italian Ecological and Energy Efficient Building, Beijing, China 2003-2006 (solar radiation and green), One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana 2010-2015 (shading), ARPT New Headquarters in Algeria, 2013 (daylight), Parramatta Square Infinity Towers and Nursery School in Guastalla. […]

His two iconic buildings are under construction in Algeria; ARPT Headquarters (Post and Telecommunications authority) – which was inspired by the “Algerian desert landscape where dunes appear like natural buildings, shaped by the wind and sand” and University Hospital Center in Alger.  Mario Cucinella Architects is currently working on a new mixed-use tower in Tirana, Albania and a new hospital in Lecce in Italy.

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