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Festival dell'architettura



Dispositio as a Carachter and Identity of the Work

Dispositio autem est rerum apta conlocatio elegansque compositionibus effectus operis cum qualitate. Species dispositionis, quae graece dicuntur ideae, sunt hae: ichnographia, orthographia, scaenographia.
(Vitruvius, I libro, I.II)

Again an FAMagazine[1] issue on dipositio, again from Vitruvius, again a reflection on some terms and procedures related to the architectural composition here probed through the relationship between the dipositio, the character and identity of the architectural work. In the item “dispositio” in Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica Treccani, the archaeologist and historian of art Silvio Ferri[2] investigated the term - in addition to the well-known correspondences with some Greek words: diatöposis, diatagè, diathesis, oikonomia – related to divisio and the greek diamèrismos, or partitio oratoria, also as synonym of dispensatio, connecting it to dispositio, inventio, elocutio as "three steps of the art of composing and saying according to Quintilian (III, 9, 2)." Moreover, Ferri stated that the three figures of dispositio (quod significant) ichnographia, orthographia, scaenographia "require – in order to becoming true in the work with quality - cogitatio and inventio (designing reason and invention); the first consists in the care of achieving the proposed effect with pleasing results at the sight; inventio is the solution of unusual problems and the setting, with a stroke of genius, of a new fact".
Recently Massimo Fagioli[3] clearly observed that along with the eurytmia - "commensurate appearance of the members in the composition" - dispositio constitutes a "dialogic couple" indicating "the syntactic-design categories, those that define the method of composition." The Treaty by Vitruvius is full of synonymies, couples and diacrisis to the point that some authors define his De Architectura a continuous repetition of the already known. First Adriano Prandi[4] but also Ferri "saw in the two pairs – ordinatio-Symmetria and dispositio-Eurythmia - corresponding characters but not perfectly coinciding, the two terms ordinatio-dispositio are referred rather to the artist, the other two Symmetria-Eurythmia mainly to the work of art".
In fact, Prandi stated "the ordinatio refers to the way in which the artist arranges the elements of the work by ensuring that their measures (quantitas) are proportional with respect to a unit of measurement arbitrarily given, while the dispositio refers to the time when the elements are arranged so that the quality of the work results as a whole"[5]. In this sense, the ordinatio-Symmetria would relate to the effect of the created work, in fieri, while the Symmetria-Eurythmia would concern the appearance of the accomplished work. In any case, it is stressed, following Vitruvius, that architecture constitutes a "way of order", a search of order obtained through different ways and procedures related to the ideational-theme step and to that expressive syntactic, "in presentness" manifested in the work through the character and the affordable forms selected, arranged and composed in order to express it and make it intelligible with affordance[6]. Once again, in the tension between the logic, rationality and the invention, the search for a figurable identity - each time renewed and rediscovered "in thing" - that the work must be able to put on stage.
The disposition, the collocatio of the parts and the forms has to be responsive to the general purpose of the work in order to determine that character or appropriate decorum able to confer a recognizable facies to the artifact that make it recognizable as the expression of values and meanings that are before and after the ideational step and then to be recognized by an conscious community. This difficult balance between the sense, the general purpose - or as Antonio Monestiroli[7] says "the reason of the buildings" - and the ways of its synthetic expression, between the forms and their appearance, in the classical and rational thought, is always clearly stated. In this sense, the theoretical work and the related design research[8] by Monestiroli appear exemplary and paradigmatic of a way of dispositio findable in a fine selection of elements (for example in the tight dialectic between the wall and the frame) and in their controlled and eurhythmic repetition and variation considering the definition of eloquent decorum to give to the architectural work.
By contrast, in the current afflictive conditions, the link between meanings or reasons and ways of their representation often becomes polarized and dismantles in a prevalent search for attractive and seductive images which are unrelated to the theme of artifacts constitution, producing highly expressive objects where it is always very difficult - sometimes impossible - to recognize parts, elements or ways of their suitable disposition but only planned and formless[9] assaults to our senses. In this authorial drift not only the intelligibility and ability to carry out a "general reception"[10] of the work’s sense is lost and increasingly every visible form of dispositio as ordered position, placement of elements and parts - responsible for the definitive character of the work - and of the same artifacts in the city.
The elements to be ordered are primarily those of the construction which legitimize themselves and they appearance only in their formal constitution becoming architectural elements - parts and figures - determining, in a continuous tension between ideal and reality, the realization and manifestation of the character and identity of the building meant as "equality of an object with respect to itself, to its meaning" (ταὐτότης), of its essence, its own truth that underlies as "adequatio rei intellectus", premise and objective of every appropriate expression.
Nowadays there is a prevalent and exclusive interest to the difference, the range, the shift in meaning, to the displacement toward communicative aspects pushed by an incessant reductio ad imaginem where the disposition becomes and is reduced to "device", desiring machine, event, performance. It would be still necessary to offer reflections and advancements able to clarify and renew the consistent relationship between the control and self commensurate procedures of location and order of the elements and the expressiveness of the construction forms for the transfer of the "appropriateness" that "visually evokes the adequacy", the appropriateness, recognizing that the theme of identity of the forms is intimately connected to the ways of their composition, editing (mounting), layout (disposition).
The essays contained in this issue from different points of view face this spectrum of articulations of the consistent trinomial dispositio-character-identity with interesting openings and unusual occurrences. If Tilemachos Andrianopoulos and Lorenzo Margiotta focus on the analysis of the specific research of two well-known authors - the two Pritzker Prize Jan Despo and Frank O. Gehry - and their designed or built works (the cultural center in Athens and the DZ Bank in Berlin) and they do it by focusing, the first, on the clarification of structural and syntactic characters, the second, on the expressive and ironic-symbolic values while identifying unusual compositional procedures still addressed to the "appropriate placing of things" and the "choice of work’s effect ", conversely, Viola Bertini extracts and indicates, in Hassan Fathy’s works, recognizable compositional procedures - analogies, transpositions, assemblies - with strong links to the lessons of history, the construction and figurative traditions of the places where they are built in order to seeking a nova sed antiqua venustas. Unlike the tenor Gilda Giancipoli’s contribution that, even if focused on an equally known author -Oswald Mathias Ungers- investigates mainly the compositional theoretical contribution on the issue of dwelling in the close relation between body-space-life.
The theme of the analogy recurs back in the contributions by Pierpaolo Gallucci and Federica Visconti, this time as reference to forms and urban assets for the construction of the identitary character of places obtained by evocations, metonymies and migrations of authoritative forms derived from other sites and the excellent tradition of architecture and the city. Particularly, the essay by Visconti, that closes this issue as a sort of afterword, explores the specific characters of the Italian school through its headmaster Rogers, Samonà and Quaroni, through their research on the finiteness of the forms and the recognition of the indissoluble relationship between architecture, history and the city through the analogy technique as a powerful opportunity to advance the research on forms.

1 La città ordinata. Dispositio e forma urbis / The orderly city. dispositio and forma Urbis, edit by L. Amistadi, “FA_Magazine”, a.VI n.32, April-May-June 2015.
2 S. Ferri, voice “Dispositio”, in Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica, Treccani, Rome 1960.
3 M. Fagioli, RicordareVitruvio. Riflessioni intorno all’arte del costruire, text of lecture given at Deapartment of Architecture of University of Naples “Federico II”, May 15, 2014.
4 A. Prandi, Lezioni del prof. Adriano Prandi su “I trattati d'architettura da Vitruvio al sec. XVIII”, Ferri, Rome 1945.
5 M. Fagioli, op. cit.
6 Cfr. J.J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual perception, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1979.
7 A. Monestiroli, La ragione degli edifici. La scuola di Milano e oltre, Marinotti, Milan 2010.
8 Hence also the choice of using, for the cover of this issue, a drawing of one of his recent works. On his theoretical contribution see among the many popular texts and the recent A. Monestroli, voice "Theory" voce “Teoria” in M. Biraghi, A. Ferlenga (a cura di), Architettura del Novecento. Teorie, scuole, eventi, Einaudi, Torino 2012. On his projects some of them with Tomaso Monestiroli (Monestiroli associate architects), see the recent A. Monestiroli, Una pagina su…Trentasei progetti di Architettura, LetteraVentidue, Siracusa 2016.
9 R. Capozzi, Forme vs informi, in “Bloom”, n.24, 2015.
10 W. Benjamin, L'opera d'arte nell'epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica, Einaudi, Turin 2000, (1^ ed. 1966).

Renato Capozzi

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