“Where does our ability to survive come from? Plants and animals have the same instinct. Nature has created a system, actually, an ecosystem with marvelous shapes and colors and incredible biodiversity. We have, in part, lost all of this, generating an irreversible change in our planet. The question is whether we can continue to live this way, or whether we should just take what’s good and throw the rest away, so that we can enter a new era.” Coming-of-age journeys leave an indelible mark on one’s personality. Not only do they literally shape it, but they remain the subject of constant thought, even after many years have gone by. According to Joseph Conrad, who spent his entire life sublimating his youthful sea voyages in his novels, “when we begin to meditate on the meaning of our own past it seems to fill all the world in its profundity and its magnitude.” In this spirit, after decades spent sensitizing his own field of work to themes concerning people’s respect for nature, Mario Cucinella has collected his memories of ten journeys to cities and other places. Each one of them provided him with food for thought that was neither exotic nor “stylistic,” but rather pragmatically environmental, and helped him to reflect on the rational exploitation of available energy resources – a common practice in the vernacular traditions of every culture, from Iran to China, and from Maghreb to Ireland. These ten stories about architecture project us forward. They are a taking of the helm of a cultural line that begins with Le Corbusier – who discovered modernity in the white cities of the Mediterranean – and crosses the twentieth century, from Giuseppe Pagano to Bernard Rudofsky to Giancarlo De Carlo to Reyner Banham, their legacy summed up in the invitation to learn from spontaneous architecture. Thus Cucinella looks at prehistorical houses excavated in the desert, ancient Syrian hospitals, underground Indian palaces, the archaic cities of wind in Cappadocia and Pakistan: “Not nostalgic tales, but the discovery of a past in which to seek lots of information that can help us in our journey to the future.”
97 9. Buildings Built Backwards - The Majaraja’s palaces built backwards and the unlucky architects (23° N, 72° E)
IT. Mario Cucinella è nato a Palermo nel 1960 ed è cresciuto a Campo Ligure, nei pressi di Genova, dove si è laureato con Giancarlo De Carlo nel 1987. Ha frequentato l’Ilaud (Laboratorio Internazionale di Architettura e Progettazione Urbana) e ha lavorato nello studio di Renzo Piano a Parigi. Nel 1999 si è trasferito a Bologna, dove ha fondato Mario Cucinella Architects. Ha insegnato presso le università di Ferrara, Nottingham, Monaco di Baviera e Napoli, e nel 2015 ha fondato a Bologna la SOS (School of Sustainability). Ha curato il Padiglione Italia alla 16. Mostra Internazionale d’Architettura della Biennale di Venezia e il relativo catalogo Arcipelago Italia. Progetti per il futuro dei territori interni del Paese (Quodlibet, 2018). Fra le sue pubblicazioni, ricordiamo Creative empathy (Skira, 2016) e, a cura di Anna Mainoli, Building Green Futures (Forma, 2020).
EN. Mario Cucinella was born in Palermo in 1960 and grew up in Campo Ligure, near Genoa, where he earned a degree under the mentorship of Giancarlo De Carlo in 1987. He attended ILAUD (International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Planning) and worked in the Renzo Piano architectural firm in Paris. In 1999 he moved to Bologna, where he founded Mario Cucinella Architects. He has taught at the Universities of Ferrara, Nottingham, Munich, and Naples, and in 2015 he founded the SOS (School of Sustainability) in Bologna. He curated the Italian Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale and was the editor of the accompanying catalogue Arcipelago Italia. Projects for the Future of the Country’s Interior Territories (Quodlibet, 2018). His publications include Creative Empathy (Skira, 2016) and Building Green Futures (edited by Anna Mainoli, Forma, 2020).