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Festival dell'architettura



DOI: 10.12838/issn.20390491/n29.2014/edit

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Ten Years of Festival dell'Architettura 2004-2014

Dear friends of the Festival of Architecture,

By now ten years have passed since the first edition of an event that was born to build a bridge between the university environment of architectural research and the world of professions, business, public administrators, but above all the many people who simply inhabit architecture and the city.

In these ten years of life, the Festival has seen the involvement, in addition to thousands of participants, hundreds of Italian and foreign lecturers and researchers, of numerous players committed to transforming the city through architecture, where city and architecture appear as inseparable categories, especially when we speak of projects, i.e. of the becoming of things.

In the thematic itinerary that collects scientific contributions to present to the general public, we have always kept our distance from the seduction of fashionable expressions, from the sorcerers' apprentices of communication imagery by now forgotten by the real body of architecture, while in 2004, as you well know, it was not commonplace, especially if one were speaking via the “festival” tool. A tough choice with respect to the search for easy public consensus, however, I believe that this attitude, simply of intellectual honesty, amply repaid us over time.

In the end, I do not believe that one can speak of a cultural line of the Festival of Architecture in a strict sense, but undoubtedly the things produced in these years constitute a profile that enunciates the expression of a cultural continuity with the research and leading players of the Italian season of the late 1900s, in particular between Milan and Venice, the desire for continual research through the heteronomy of an architecture that cannot betray the mandate of a final responsibility on form, an open but no less critical attitude towards the ceaselessly ongoing urban phenomenology, surpassing any provincialism and any modelling use of architecture's thinking and doing.

Very many students, not only of architecture but also of other scientific sectors of the University of Parma, as well as young collaborators from the Italian and European university network have passed through the Festival's experiences, I trust deriving from it some added educational value, inspiration for research, new orientations. In other ways, cities, it has to be said far-sightedly, first and foremost Parma, then with time also Reggio Emilia and Modena – have experimented with the urban and territorial dimension of “Cittaemilia” so dear to us because of the many studies carried out on it – with the involvement of Bologna and Forlì and the Emilia Romagna Region, venues hosting the events of a "territorialized" Festival, have received information, spurs, incentives to self-reflection on the themes of the city, while on the contrary, the Festival in the sense of a research laboratory, has drawn inspiration from the peculiarities of the settlement traditions of these same contexts, acquired as places of application, experimentation, and verification of project methodologies.

Among the things realized – exhibitions, meetings, presentations often imagined through formulae of absolute situational originality supported by an organizational secretaries' office as voluntary as it was productive – I like to underline the publishing effort, which meant coping with the problem of the transmissibility of the contents, hence the birth, as early as 2006, of Festival Architettura Editions, which has produced to date dozens of volumes that report the research brought to the Festival, in the form of themed catalogues.

The website has been another strong point of the Festival showing how the Internet can be fully involved in a strategy of this type, and in particular, the birth of the Festival Architettura Magazine, an online magazine dealing with architectural projects which today enjoys a vast network of collaboration, in particular in the circuit of PhDs and young researchers.

I cannot say how much the Festival owes to the Faculty of Architecture of Parma or vice versa; unquestionably, the two grew in parallel. What is certain, is that the occasion of the Festival shows the school that the educational experience of the student-architect cannot be understood solely in the closed environment of a classroom and in the transmission of techniques, but also needs the open field of a fertilisation of contributions, of knowledge of the cultural circuits, of comparison with the outside world, first and foremost European, among schools and leading players animated by a common passion for the risks of research, of methodological progress, of informed innovation.

My recent institutional post in the service of the University of Parma, a post that I should like to carry out also as an occasion for disciplinary research, does not allow me to carry on in the adventure of the Festival. However, this abandonment can acquire a positive sense, I would say almost necessary, if we think that the Festival demands the energy of a renewed generational component, by its very nature inclined to tackle the most exploratory research. I therefore leave the witnessing of the Festival of Architecture to a group of younger colleagues with the wish that much of what has been done should be developed and carried onward, but much more still, brand new as much as expected, could still be sparked off by this stimulating laboratory of ideas on Architecture and the City.

Carlo Quintelli

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