Bianca Felicori’s book that collects forgotten architectures

On sale exclusively until June 7, 2022 (and then never again), “Forgotten Architecture. An archive of completed and disappeared projects ”is the first work of the researcher and author of architecture Bianca Felicori. A choral work, which starts from the experience of the homonymous Facebook group active since 2019

Reasoning with the author of a book in the absence of the same is not such a recurring experience. More frequent, in fact, are the opportunities for comparison and exchange generated by the reading and subsequent analysis of a given volume. However, in the specific case of Forgotten Architecture. An archive of completed and disappeared projects – produced by NERO and Prima O Mai, it will be available for purchase until next June (and then never again) and will be delivered to your home by July 30th – this condition appears almost marginal. Of course, the desire to leaf through the pages ofwork that promises to take away from oblivion the projects of little-known architects considered “minor”, as well as illustrating the works remained in the shadow of the masters, is tangible in the writer. But while waiting for this to happen, the meeting with Bianca Felicori – researcher and author of architecture to whom we owe the creation of the lively community Forgotten Architecture first, and then the curation of the volume – offers the opportunity for a reflection focused on the process even before the “final result”. In addition to the specialist contributions of authors and architectural journalists and, as photographers, of Fabrizio VatieriNicola Nunziata, Giovanna SilvaLuca Caizzi, Federico Torra, Roberto Conte, Stefano Perego and by Felicori herself, the book Forgotten Architecture includes critical essays by Franco Raggi, Nina Bassoli, Blue MuzzonigroNicolò Ornaghi and Cino Zucchi.

Ken Isaacs, Beach Matrix, Westport, Connecticut, USA, 1967.  Photo credits Kenneth Dale Isaacs Papers.  Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
Ken Isaacs, Beach Matrix, Westport, Connecticut, USA, 1967. Photo credits Kenneth Dale Isaacs Papers. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

INTERVIEW WITH BIANCA FELICORI

In 2019, telling ad Artribune there birth and the rapid rise of group Facebook Forgotten Architecture, you already highlighted its nature as a “mega-collective”. An approach that today is reflected, with obvious resizing, in the book. Rather than involving a series of authors and experts, I would like to think about the effort to present the chosen projects with images and drawings. How did you overcome the difficulties in finding materials that are already normally encountered in this type of research?
This has undoubtedly been the most complex operation I have done to date: I have learned to move between new themes and obstacles such as archival research, copyright; in general I have learned to move in the publishing world. I started with a basic selection of projects for each chapter, each dedicated to an architectural macro-theme. At that point I began a painstaking and patient research of images by contacting archives, studios and the families of the missing architects themselves. It was really tiring, but at the same time a moment of extreme satisfaction and above all very emotional, because you often come into contact either with the designers themselves or with those who own the copyrights, people who have almost always been available and happy. to participate in the project.

In light of these experiences, how would you define the scenario of the architecture archives, especially in Italy?
Except for a few cases, in general I have had to deal with well-organized realities. The material collected in the book is, as can be easily deduced from the title alone Forgotten Architecture, rarely published or even never published documentation; therefore image recovery was difficult at times. In general, I found well-organized archives and realities; I believe, however, that the cliché of the archive seen as a place intended only for researchers or those working in the sector is still too strong in Italy. Forgotten Architecture it also serves this purpose, to cancel the boundaries between the formal and the informal, making a wider public discover what lies behind an important research and recovery of materials.

WhyAnd you have chosen to go beyond the size of the group by focusing on a book, instead ofAnd opting, in the first instance, on another digital tool – I am thinking of an app – which would have allowed constant updating? And, perhaps, he would have gone along with the request to imagine new architectural themed itineraries (at least with the forgotten architectures that still exist).
I believe a digital archive like Forgotten Architecture, open to all, can become many things. The group itself is a tool that I also use while traveling. With the “search” tool, symbolized by the magnifying glass, you can go and find the architectures reported on Facebook to build your personal itineraries. This is already a big plus. Publishing a book, moreover a limited edition product, allows everyone to take home a virtual experience translated into a physical object. The book of Forgotten Architecture it is a kind of little treasure, a fetish to be kept forever. The project has taken many forms over the years, but becoming a book, as a good researcher that I am, was my main goal, because I still believe in paper as a powerful means of restitution.

Dante Bini, Villa Antonioni Vitti, Costa Paradiso, 1968. Photo credits Giulia Ricci
Dante Bini, Villa Antonioni Vitti, Costa Paradiso, 1968. Photo credits Giulia Ricci

FORGOTTEN AND REDISCOVERED ARCHITECTURE IN THE BOOK OF FELICORI

After three years of gathering, exchanging and discussing within the group and outside, also around the concept of “forgotten”, you continue to believe that the condition of “forgotten” is largely a responsibility of the history of architecture, of its university teaching and work conducted by industry critics?
Yes, I believe it. It is evident how, more generally, the cuts and decisions taken by critics and historians on which the students of each school study deeply mark the formation of each of them. Added to this is the fact that in every city in Italy the teaching program changes; if we extend the reasoning on a state and continental scale, the situation becomes even more critical. It is not a condemnation but an observation, but I think it is right to make sure that we go beyond academic limits. If, on the other hand, the discourse is extended to a non-sector audience, I am still convinced of the fact that architecture, and more generally those who teach and tell about architecture, are always a little too busy talking about it to a specialized public, excluding listeners from other disciplines who will never be interested in ours. I believe that Forgotten Architecture taught us how an informal and horizontal dialogue on architecture is possible, and not through an image search on Pinterest.

Have “counter-current” cases emerged, in which the designers themselves, the clients of the works or fortuitous circumstances contributed, in various ways, to lay the foundations for a destiny of oblivion despite the interest of the workers in the sector?
A “counter-current” case that I feel I can cite is that of Günther Domenig. The entire work of Günther Domenig is characterized by a powerful break with the traditional canons of modern architecture towards a new interpretation of the discipline linked not only to the study of a new style, often defined as “organic mannerism”, but also to an introspective journey and psychological in the personality and private sphere of the architect himself. It is clear how this introspective journey into the personal dimension of the architect, from which unprecedented organic and dreamlike forms arise, could have ensured that his work remained in the shadow of many architects active in the Seventies in Europe.

Forgotten architectures and geography. Does the peripheral condition with respect to the main urban nuclei affect the condition of “forgotten architecture” or, as often happens, is the scenario that emerged surprisingly more complicated and involves cities and small towns indistinctly?
It is really complex to define what are the factors that affect the “forgetfulness” of a project or not, but undoubtedly the geographical position can affect the notoriety of a work. On the contrary, it may happen that some works become famous precisely because of their marginality in the city, but it is a fame that is usually recognized for these works due to the criticisms made over time. Let’s think, for example, of all those projects of popular micro-cities, which later became “oases” of ghettoisation for the less well-off classes, like many complexes designed in the second half of the twentieth century.

Bianca Felicori (edited by) - Forgotten Architecture (Nero, Rome 2022)
Bianca Felicori (edited by) – Forgotten Architecture (Nero, Rome 2022)

ROOTS AND PERSPECTIVES OF THE FORGOTTEN ARCHITECTURE PROJECT

The sculptural and headless “Mother Nature”placed by Tomaso Buzzi a The Scarzuola, in Umbria, is the cover of the book (and of the group). What binds you to that image and that project?
A very personal story, or in any case linked to my beginnings in the world of architecture. In 2016 I was graduating from the three-year course at the Politecnico, and I was finishing my internship from Domus. My thesis was dedicated to the issue of number 1000 of the magazine, an issue in which all the editors of the magazine were involved; between them, Alessandro Mendini, director from 1979 to 1985 and then again from 2010 to 2011. In this issue Mendini, who later became one of the key figures in my academic and professional career, publishes a series of images including La Scarzuola, never seen before. I went to visit it two years later, realizing how much that need to integrate my university education with parallel research was an urgent need that I had to solve as soon as possible. That’s why you are on the cover of my first book today.

We just have to see what the future holds for this project“. So you ended your article three years ago. Forgotten Architecture continueDoes it take on other forms, for example becoming an exhibition project, or is the time ripe to undertake a new line of research?
Forgotten Architecture it is alive because it is not a simple architectural project, but a community. It has already become and been many things: today a book, yesterday a tour, the day before yesterday a program at the Triennale, a workshop and so on. It will soon become a documentary, which I am working on now with director Lisa Bosi, which after the book I think is one of the best goals to achieve for projects like these. In general, in its evolution, the past is left behind and rediscovered in new forms: we will see what they will be. These three years have been intense but not enough to run out of energy.

Valentina Silvestrini

Bianca Felicori (Editor) – Forgotten Architecture
Nero, Rome 2022
Pages 280, € 40
https://www.neroeditions.com/product/forgotten-architecture/
www.primaomai.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.