November 21 saw the closing event at the Italian pavilion curated by architect Mario Cucinella for FREESPACE, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale in Venice. The closing day featured round tables and book launches drawing attention once more to Italy’s oft-neglected interior, investigating issues that have emerged during the pavilion’s “voyage” of exploration of the country’s hinterland. Prominent Italian enterprises that contributed to this voyage included the pavilion’s technical sponsor, the Iris Ceramica Group, which supported the goals of Mario Cucinella’s Arcipelago Italia project and recognised its affinity with the group’s corporate vision, according to Iris Ceramica Group CEO Federica Minozzi:
“The history of the Iris Ceramica Group, and the evolution of its brands, has always demonstrated a great focus on issues of sustainability and environmental protection. This has been a characteristic feature of the Group right from the start, even when awareness of these issues was not so common, and this commitment has been expressed through protection and preservation of the areas where the Group works”. The Group’s concrete commitment to sustainability is also demonstrated by the recent Pollution Refle-Action project presented at CERSAIE 2018, produced in partnership with Mario Cucinella Architects and SOS_ School of Sustainability and launched through the international Next Landmark contest.
In the installation in the Italian Pavilion, 300x100 cm maxi-slabs of high-tech ceramic made by the Iris Ceramica Group form a 10 metre-long backdrop customised with a sketch by architect Mario Cucinella, a form of customisation made possible by the innovative “DYS - Design Your Slabs” technology developed by the Iris Ceramica Group.
A sketch drawn by hand by Mario Cucinella illustrates the installation concept to the public and represents the long voyage through Italy’s hinterland and the five experimental projects the pavilion presents.
And the voyage is by no means over, according to Mario Cucinella, who remarked on the Pavilion’s last opening day: “The voyage starts now. It starts with the awareness that we need to take care of our country and work on our urban system, the only one of its kind in the world. Architecture can be a decisive tool for relaunching the interior of our country, and we must put it back in the centre of our culture and our public debate”.
The future of Arcipelago Italia was the leitmotif of the closing day at the Italian Pavilion. The morning’s round table, entitled “The hinterland in metropolitan cities” and organised by Arcipelago Italia in partnership with Anci (the National Association of Italian Cities) and Ispra (the Institute for Advanced Environmental Protection and Research), revealed a need for participatory design. Use of photography as a tool for surveying territory and familiarising ourselves with it was discussed at the book launch event for the publication entitled “L’altra Italia. Racconto per immagini delle aree interne del Paese” (“The other Italy: The story of the country’s hinterland in images”, published by Johan & Levi) by Urban Reports, a collective of documentary photographers. The day concluded with an event entitled “What does the future have in store for Arcipelago Italia?” addressing three key issues in three separate debates: mobility, climate change and architecture. In conclusion, curator Mario Cucinella underlined the importance of architecture: “Architecture must go back to being an expression of place and a response to the social, economic and environmental evolution of the context in which we live and will live in the future” and therefore the need to come up with a shared political and architectural vision capable of guiding the future development of territories.
Images courtesy of Padiglione Italia, photo by: Alessandro Guida (12-20), Urban Reports (01-08, 10-11)
Images courtesy of Iris Ceramica Group: Federica Minozzi photo by: Ken Schluchtmann (09)