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A sober architectural weave

MoDus Architects

Giuseppe Pagano was one of the most interesting figures on the Italian architecture scene. Restless and contradictory, he was often able to argue his point, reasoning from a broad perspective. In the 1930s, he and Edoardo Persico, co-editors of Casabella, sitting at desks facing each other, kept up a constant dialogue on topical issues: the role of architecture in Italy’s cultural and political scene, and how to relate to the Modern Movement the country was avidly importing, with surprising results. What these two men had in common was an unremitting aversion to the assertive, bombastic, monumental architecture championed by the regime. Pagano’s remedy was clear: there had to be a return to what he defined as “everyday” architecture, a restrained style than nonetheless expressed civic, social and environmental values. That was one side of Pagano’s character. The other was the contradictory, generous Pagano who, towards the end of the 1930s, advocated an amended, less ideological and paradigmatic version of the Modern Movement: a style he saw impersonated by Alvar Aalto. The idea of “everyday” architecture half way between high and popular cultural norms had been a major theme in Italian culture since the 19th Century when literary critic Francesco De Sanctis had described the country’s ills in terms of the great divide between its sophisticated, brooding high culture and popular traditions that had no inkling of that other world. It follows that if today the aim is still to produce quality everyday architecture able to slip effortlessly into the social fabric, those who pursue that goal will evidently have little interest in definitions like
Post-modern, Deconstructionism, Minimalism, Post-postmodernism, Digital and so on. All these trends are the brainchild of fancy, fuel for the bonfire of vanity, part of an obsession with zippy memorable soundbites.

Until recently, the...

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