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Dante O. Benini & Partners Architects

Dante O. Benini & Partners Architects

Dante O. Benini is one of those architects who are better known outside the restricted circles of specialist literature readers. Only two architecture reviews have systematically dealt with Benini’s work: l’Architettura, cronaca e storia, until edited by Bruno Zevi, one of Benini’s greatest fans, and l’Arca, again thanks to the enthusiasm of editor-in-chief Cesare Casati. An increasing number of articles and interviews are appearing in the general press and non-Italian journals on Benini’s brilliant, unconventional and often controversial, urban and environmental projects.
The reason for this oversight on the part of mainstream Italian architecture critics of his conspicuous body of work is probably because Benini - like other architects supported by Bruno Zevi - belongs to a school of architecture running counter to Tafuri, Gregotti or Portoghesi, who, although in different ways, dominated architectural discourse in Italy during the Eighties and Nineties. There must, however, be another real reason for such neglect. Otherwise it is hard to explain why Benini continues to be ignored even today when bridges are being thrown up in the name of all-embracing eclecticism. Very probably, Benini is still regarded by mainstream architectural thinking as belonging to a grey area, his work still jangling sensitive nerves. In fact three aspects of Benini’s approach still arouse controversy. First, his suspicion of the assertion that architecture stands apart as a separate discipline; second, his belief that architecture is a professional trade; third, that technology is part and parcel of artistic creativity.
Suspicion of autonomous architectural values. Apart from an initial phase under the clear influence of his Venetian mentor and later employer, Scarpa, Benini’s later work asserts his preference for action rather than form, or in the words of Anceschi, heteronomy not autonomy. Benini’s buildings meet needs, relate to their contexts, afford function. They are not...

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