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A research initiative and publication series exploring the history of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and the relationship between architecture and display

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Architecture for architects is wrong

Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi discusses the relationship between curation and spectacle, and how architecture's image of itself has changed over time

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design

Organizing Institutions

Slought, PennDesign

Contributing Institutions

Pratt Institute

Organizers

William Menking, Aaron Levy

Opens to public

04/20/2011

Address

PennDesign
210 S 34th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Economy

50% Formal - 50% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Architecture for architects is wrong," a public conversation with Paolo Portoghesi, in dialogue with Aaron Levy and William Menking, on April 20, 2011, at PennDesign. The conversants will discuss public expectations for spectacular graphic and visual display, how architecture's image of itself has changed over time, and how attempts to fuse eastern and western sensibilities enable a larger cultural dialogue.

Portoghesi directed what is considered to be the Venice Biennale's 1st International Architecture Exhibition. His Strada Novissima, the main exhibition of twenty façades set up at the Corderie dell'Arsenale, ushered in some of the best known architects today, including Frank O. Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Arata Isozaki, Robert Venturi, Franco Purini, Ricardo Bofil, Christian de Portzamparc. The work opened a very lively debate on Postmodernism, becoming a symbol of the movement itself. Portoghesi is perhaps best known for his striking mosque in Rome, Italy, built 1974/75 in the north end of the city, near Acqua Acetosa, at the behest of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. It is said that the building strikes a balance between modernism, Roman forms, and the traditions of mosque architecture. He continues to practice: the first stone of his Strasbourg Mosque, converted from a foie gras factory in the center of the city, was laid in 2004.

The event builds upon Architecture on Display, a research initiative organized by William Menking, Editor-in-chief of The Architect's Newspaper, and Aaron Levy, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Slought Foundation, who co-curated the United States Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale. In the resulting London AA publication, Levy and Menking interview each of the living directors of the Venice Biennale for Architecture, including Vittorio Gregotti, Francesco Dal Co, Kurt Foster, and Kazuyo Sejima, among others. Levy and Menking argue that the forgotten history of the Biennale offers an incipient understanding of the complex relationship between architectures of use and architectures of display. The conversants will discuss public expectations for spectacular graphic and visual display, how architecture's image of itself has changed over time, and how attempts to fuse eastern and western sensibilities enable a larger cultural dialogue.

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Paolo Portoghesi is an Italian architect, theorist, historian and professor of architecture at the University La Sapienza in Rome. He is a former President of the architectural section of the Venice Biennale (1979-92), Editor-in-chief of the journal Controspazio (1969-83), and dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano university (1968-78). After completing his architecture studies at the University of Rome, he opened an architectural practice with architect-engineer Vittorio Gigliotti in Rome in 1964. Well-known for his teaching and researching Classical architecture, especially Baroque architecture, his interest in more contemporary architecture lies in championing a more organic form of modernism, brought to the fore in his book Nature and Architecture (2000).

"I believe that modern architecture has lost the capacity to speak to the citizens, the common people. Architecture for architects is wrong, and it breaks the continuity of architectural history. Architecture is not for architects - it's for the public."

-- Paolo Portoghesi


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Editors Aaron Levy and William Menking explore the social and political history of the Venice Architecture Biennale and its responsiveness to the 1960s through unprecedented interviews with Paolo Portoghesi, Vittorio Gregotti and other founding directors.

Editors Aaron Levy and William Menking explore the relationship between architecture and display through four conversations in four cities with forty leading designers, theorists, editors, curators and funders.

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