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A REASONED SENSITIVITY

Ipostudio

A REASONED SENSITIVITY
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

“The art developed here is never completely the product of fable or verismo. Rather, it is the result of the intellectual observation of reality where nature is translated with reasoned sensitivity”. This was how writer and critic Guido Piovene interpreted Florence at the end of the 1950s: as a city that had preserved its taste for the intellectual observation of reality, a way of looking at the world that had molded both its history and architecture through a succession of styles: grafting the objects of the Renaissance onto its mediaeval fabric, subsequently adding Baroque extravagance, to which were later added the eclectic Umbertino style dear to the late 19th Century bourgeoisie, and finally a few hints of Modernism. The 1960s signaled a clear discontinuity, not only in architecture. Acute and caustic, the intelligentsia of Florence, famous for its pithy clarity of thought, proposed a completely different, albeit conventionally conservative, approach. In architecture, this new wave is epitomized by Leonardo Ricci and Leonardo Savioli. Their Brutalist, hyper-plastic forms appear an unabashed challenge to the graceful moderation of the past. Looking down on Florence from the hilltop church of San Miniato, clearly visible at the edge of a city that has managed to remain true to its character are the towers of Ricci’s courthouse complex. Austere and extreme almost to the point of being kitsch, it nonetheless commands attention and exudes a certain pride. This break with the past continued after Ricci and Savioli with the so-called “Radicals”, firms like Superstudio, Archizoom, and 999. Theirs is an ideological architecture of extremes, imbued with the new frontier spirit that characterized the 1960s, to which native Florentines added their innate irony. Yet the radical architecture they created was more an intellectual concept than an exercise in construction.

It had lost that “reasoned...

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