"CTF, with his tall, very thin figure, always was the one who went first, and now we’re waiting for him to tell us about his latest trip," is how Adolfo Natalini remembered Cristiano Toraldo di Francia in a personal sentimental portrait of his friend written for Giornale dell'Architettura on 2 September 2019.
The two architects, both born in 1941, Adolfo Natalini in Pistoia and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia in Florence, met in the faculty of architecture in Florence in the early '60s. In the wake of the terrible flooding of the river Arno on the night between November 3 and 4, 1966, Adolfo Natalini accepted Cristiano Toraldo di Francia’s invitation to work with him in his studio in Piazza di Bellosguardo, on a little hill in southwestern Florence with a beautiful view over the city. Their professional partnership gave rise to a life-long friendship and to the adventure of Superstudio, which continued until 1978. After this the two architects went their separate ways in their careers, but met again thanks to Superstudio and the exhibitions held in memory of its work and projects, such as the “Superstudio 50” retrospective presented at MAXXI in Rome in 2016 and at the Power Art Station in Shanghai in 2018. Now, in one of those odd coincidences life sometimes brings, they are once again travelling a new voyage only six months apart. Adolfo Natalini died in Florence on 23 January 2020, and as he himself asked for his friend Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, we will remember him not only for his projects, but for his work as an “experimenter, architect, teacher and promoter of culture”.
Before graduating in 1966 with a degree in architecture, Adolfo Natalini had been a painter, working in Pistoia and Florence and participating in the "Superarchitettura" exhibition that opened on 4 December 1966. As he himself said, his experience as a painter was reflected in his continued use of drawing, as an irreplaceable and essential creative act.
He founded Superstudio in 1966 with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, Gian Piero Frassinelli, and Roberto and Alessandro Magris, with the participation of Alessandro Poli between 1970 and 1972l. From 1979 on Adolfo Natalini worked alone, concerned primarily with the planning of historic city centres in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, including projects for the Römerberg in Frankfurt, for the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, for a bank in Alzate Brianza, Centro Elettrocontabile in Zola Predosa, a home in Saalgasse, Frankfurt, and Teatro della Compagnia in Florence.
In his academic career, he was a full professor in the faculty of architecture in Florence, an honorary member of the BDA (Bund Deutscher Architekten) and the FAIA (Honorary Fellow American Institute of Architects), an academic in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence, the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara and the Accademia di San Luca.
In 1991 he set up Natalini Architetti with architect Fabrizio Natalini (no relation), working on projects such as the construction of the Waagstraat in Groningen, the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Dorotheenhof on the Manetstrasse in Leipzig, the Muzenplein in the Hague, Campi Bisenzio shopping mall, the university campus in Novoli, Florence, Boscotondo in Helmond, the Porta Tufi university campus in Siena, Het Eiland in Zwolle, Haverlej in Den Bosch, and two more museum projects in Florence, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and plans for the New Uffizi.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia