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B Residence

Bergmeisterwolf Architekten

Writer and journalist Guido Piovene started his famous journey around Italy that prompted the book Viaggio in Italia in the extreme north of the peninsula in Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, where he was from. This starting point was self-evident for Piovene, who like many from these parts, take particular pride in their origins, probably because they have to deal with the presence of too many cultures: Italian, Austrian, Swiss and German. Piovene described Alto Adige’s focus on its local culture and the determination to preserve its heritage as “sentimental”, specifying what he meant by that slippery term: “A sentimental person pours his emotions into objects that are predestined by habit and custom to embody them”. Indeed, this emotionally charged definition is where we must start to try and understand the power of architecture in South Tyrol. A sentimental force, certainly, but one that is restrained, disciplined and reserved, even to the point of being austere - as are the people who for centuries have been accustomed to the rigors of mountain life. An architect from this region can be called sentimental in the sense that he espouses an impersonal collective sentiment, echoing Ortega y Gasset’s definition that “an authentic architect is a whole people”. It is these special traits that have made Alto Adige the Italian region that can boast the best architecture in the country. And yet, as Josef March tells us, the region once had practically no modern architecture; the little work being done more often than not referenced regional traditions to the point of becoming kitsch. Modern architecture in Alto Adige only came about recently, in 1972, when the region gained autonomous administrative status. One of the first measures introduced by the Alto Adige authorities as a result of their greater independence from central government was to launch a school building program for which all contracts were granted only through...

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