The new monograph commissioned by the Giovanni Michelucci Foundation is dedicated to the long human and professional career of the great architect and the many traits of his personality. Published by Angelo Pontecorboli (2022, 160 pages), it is edited by Foundation director Andrea Aleardi with the contribution of the Tuscany Region’s Ministry of Culture-General Directorate for Education, Research and Cultural Institutes.
The book recounts the life of the man, intellectual and architect with scientific accuracy, but yet, down-to-earth language that will reach all enthusiasts in addition to scholars, researchers, and students. It is a collection of texts and images that brings together the many and varied materials produced by the Tuscan Master himself and on his work, including a major cataloging of his projects, completed and posthumous works, as well as the mass of drawings and sketches on which Michelucci measured the meaning of things and the reasons for “city making.”
Design thought and its value for a reading of contemporary society is also the focus of the main essay, written by architect Gianni Biondillo, member of the Foundation’s Scientific Committee. He provides an updated version of the text entitled Giovanni Michelucci he had written in 1999 for the architectural publication Universale di Architettura, whose director was Bruno Zevi. Pieces of city open to all. Biondillo, who knew Michelucci and studied him with great care, reinterprets the architect’s thought through his lucid and stubborn discontinuity vis-à-vis the various cultural currents of the twentieth century.
The author begins with Michelucci’s first works in his hometown of Pistoia and then touches upon some of the most significant experiences, including the Santa Maria Novella railway station and the Palazzina Reale (Florence, 1935), the Church of Pontelungo (1953), the Commodity Exchange (Pistoia, 1950), the Church of San Giovanni Battista (known as the Highway Church, Campi Bisenzio, 1964), and the ‘memorial’ Church of Longarone (1966), as well as the posthumous Olbia Theater (2005); finishing with some ‘pieces’ of the new city, the city of dialogue Michelucci never gave up on and that can be recognized in the Civic Center of the Garden Village in Arzignano (1968) and in the Garden of Meetings inside the Sollicciano prison (1987-1990).
The editorial project is part of the initiatives set for the forty years since the establishment of the Giovanni Michelucci Foundation, which came in 2022, and of which the publication is a milestone.
The monograph comes as the result of intense reorganization work and in-depth study done over the last decade by the many members and collaborators of the institution and the world of research, also leading to Milanese journalist and architect Silvia Botti’s recent appointment as president.
“It is a collective goal where all the personal experiences and skills of each member of the Foundation come together,” Botti explains. “We wanted a book that not only presented the work of an architect who spanned the last century—from the experience of fascist architecture up to the era of modernity, deindustrialization and post-modernism—, but that also signaled the importance of the thought and vision of the man as well as the intellectual, a courageous man who was not afraid to contend with the problems and novelties of his time.”
The publication is thus an invitation to recover the figure of a heretofore unknown Michelucci, a craftsman architect, passionate about art, empathic and curious, and always looking for a human relationship with workers and young people, and who saw teaching—which he did at the Departments of Architecture in Florence and Engineering in Bologna—not only as discipline but also as a chance to share and create “happiness.” The latter was a key concept in the Master’s life, who made it the yardstick for trying to create The New City, a community that would perfectly combine the social and architectural dimensions and that he pursued by setting up the Foundation and magazine that bear his name in 1982.
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