“The light filtered dimly through the tall beech wood still wet with dew. A single shaft of more intense light revealed the presence of a clearing where, to my great surprise, I found, right in the middle, a perfect circle of carefully hewn stones… I knew them to be the remains of a limekiln, and that once not far away a shelter had been built… But my thoughts were especially with those crates of bulbs I had seen unloaded in the bustle that heralded a market day; these images were rapidly followed by mental pictures of the white circle in the wood, which I now saw surrounding a dark blue group of nasturtiums. Then back to the market and once again to the wood in that state of being in which one lives exclusively in the absolute present… I have never returned to that place, so I will never know if anyone saw that intense blue in the center of that white circle, or if the porcupines have eaten the bulbs; but while I walked away from the wood that day I felt I had done my part.”
Attention… when the mind becomes silent the land can speak
Remember… the future has an ancient heart
Consciousness… because inner growth begins from here
Harmony… when everything is a balanced interconnection
Invisible… what is proved beyond the appearances
Tradition… because innovation has only forgotten its origin
Energy… the most powerful and less known is inner energy
Change… because nothing is the same forever
Time… to remember that time is just a convention
Undesirables… because the future is theirs
Revolution… the only true revolution comes and starts from ourselves
Earth… because the greatest magic lies in a blade of glass
After years of proclamations announcing revolutions in other places and vulgar exhibitions of consumerism, a new attitude began to appear - an awareness that unless there is interior growth, no profound, lasting transformation will ever come about. Reflecting on what it means to create architecture is therefore essential. Proposed in the ancient form of an acronym, it expresses with lines a “way” of understanding architecture that could interestingly be compared in artful play with as many different views as possible.
The re-enactment of a Renaissance workshop (il Laboratorio where the different arts and crafts came together to share experiences, ideas, talent and cultures, became a reality in 2005 in the Cupa Valley of Salento in southern Italy, home to the ancient Messapic citiy, known as Rudiae. It was breathtaking to discover after navigating a maze of little alleyways the huge imposing bulk of the empty tobacco factory, and discover later that the inner court was an ancient citrus grove - another marvel. Producing culture in the periphery of the Empire was another further challenge. Over the years, il Laboratorio has been a common denominator for many different, autonomous personalities. Neither office nor just a physical place, it is rather a mental place where people can experiment with a working method based on inner growth, developing their skills in continual interchange with different artistic experiences. Il Laboratorio has seen numerous projects: restoration of ancient farmhouses and refurbishment of traditional buildings in contemporary style as a way of taking action in the historic landscape; requalification projects in unprepossessing areas with the aim of triggering renewal while respecting local identities; integrating technological innovation, such as renewable energy facilities, into architecture; projects to reinstate craft traditions as a means of furthering the creative process, reconnecting craftsmanship and the local workforce, a treasure trove of know-how on materials and building techniques. Il Laboratorio has also developed interactions between local places and people with installations and performances. Hidden talents have been discovered, and the interaction triggered has born both cultural and social fruit. Particular focus has been given to children and child expressivity. Mingling different experiences is one of Laboratorio’s key objectives, as is the offer of professional training and exchange opportunities to local communities.
Below-grade spaces change the position of the observer and so the perception of space and light. The movement of sun and moon create shafts of light and passing glimpses of the landscape outside. It is an extraordinary experience allowing a whole new approach to this land and the natural environment.
Tradition and Innovation
Architects and critics are often afflicted by a curious perceptual quirk that leads them to take extreme or ideological positions on “tradition” ranging from conservation madness bordering on fetishism, to utopian views of futuristic technological worlds, supported by a kitsch jumble of intellectual and less learned references.
Simply put, there can be no tradition without innovation. Everything that can improve the conditions in which we live should be examined, with neither excessive enthusiasm nor rejected out-of-hand, in the knowledge, however, that every architectural project is a specific independent work unto itself.