2010 IN SHANGHAI
This project is an homage to Terragni and to his Danteum. An homage to the culture of Italy with its many layers and influences. An homage to Italy’s ‘one hundred cities’. An homage to the city of Rome with its mix of medieval, baroque and renaissance styles. To Italian cuisine which transforms the simplest of basics into a myriad of varied dishes.
An homage to the relationship between East and West. To the harmony between the domus of Rome and the siheyuan of China. An homage to Venice, the city on water and port to the Orient, a model yet to be surpassed. To Italian gardens, to the Marittimo theatre of Villa Adriana and to the ideal city. An homage to the grandeur of Italian cinema, to the Dolce vita, and to Mastroianni.
To melodrama, to Pavarotti and, (why not?) to Ferrari and to Italian soccer. An homage to thought, to the world of ideas, to visions and to intelligence, the only works able to improve upon our cities and our future.
This project is the story of an approach and an immersion. From the far distance – from the other bank of the river – the Italian pavilion will stand out, in its simplicity and rigor, in sharp contrast to the inevitable chaos of the city. A lantern illuminating the night.
As the visitor slowly approaches the pavilion this same sturdiness dissolves into a subtle nuance of images coming into sharp focus to reveal the definitive city, Pavarotti, Ferrari, Italian gardens, Italian fashion … a simple deed of construction blending full and empty spaces – a series of poles positioned into the ground – that does not fail to conceal the images represented in the background. It is the optical illusion of compactness and concealment that is the essence of the exhibition.
The pavilion is a type of structure based on a geometric core represented by two intersecting cubes juxtaposed yet slightly out-of-sync: another illusory trick used to interrupt what seems like an overall streamlined effect and leads to the entrances to the structure. The sole opening onto the river is a large window which breaks the orderly line of poles.
The pavilion has been designed as a narrative work. Its structure operates much like Chinese boxes: a simple solid space encloses within it a series of other simple solid spaces creating a game of unexpected effects and surprises accompanying the visitor to the discovery of its contents, namely, the culture and style of Italy.
The complex inter-connection of internal and external space is readily perceived upon entering into the open area of the courtyard: paths, inclines, and flights of steps all converge into a space that is both intimate and peaceful in stark contrast to the ever-present commotion of everyday life outside the pavilion.
The walkway guides the visitor to discover the courtyard little-by-little. The open plaza is characterized by the presence of water around which the exhibition areas are found, small enclosed spaces lit from above, joined together by foot bridges, which, like islands, spring up nonchalantly from the grid that is partially hidden by the outline of the ruins of the House of the Faun.
The end of the path that goes around the water encompassed courtyard opens onto the Room of one Hundred Cities, dedicated to the 110 chief towns that head the Italian provinces.
Each city will represent itself by way of a square, that urban element which, more than any other, symbolizes the essence of the way of life and structure of Italian cities. 110 models in scale of squares and plazas, each one exemplifying the differences, the history, and the uniqueness of all Italian cities.
A wide ramp going around the three sides of the building leads to the higher-tier of the exhibition, to the upper levels of the auditorium and to the large exposition room, called the basilica which opens towards the river.
“Better city, Better life” may therefore take on a special meaning, fulfilling the task of proving that it is indeed possible to operate within an urban reality and, all the while, maintain a balance between respect for the environment and control over technologically innovative changes, while recognizing that the complexity of human traditions is a wealth of knowledge to be understood and safeguarded, but, at the same time, also suitable for modern designs.