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Interpreting, Not Adapting

Lazzarini Pickering Architetti

Interpreting, Not Adapting
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

If there is one good thing post-modernism has taught Architecture, it is interpretation. Modernism was largely paradigmatic and prescriptive, which was what made it epic – even though in some cases this led to a disdainful autism. In a conversation with Claudio Lazzarini and Carl Pickering about their work, mention was often made of the importance at the outset of interpreting the needs and aspirations of the client. The next step in their poetic – they said – was to sum up and interpret this dialogue to then devise something that moved them closer to formulating a project proper – a basic outline that served to guide and hold together the subsequent phases of the whole program.

To some, this might seem more an aporia than a way forward; we know that clients’ requests are descriptive and fragmentary while projects have to be clear and succinct. Yet this is how Lazzarini and Pickering develop what, a posteriori, we could call their minimal or interpretative approach. Talking and listening to the client does not, however, just mean interacting with the person concerned. It also means listening to the context in which the architecture is placed. Like clients, contexts have their own requirements; they too are often varied and incongruent, and so have to be listened to if their – often confused – language is to be deciphered. Listening must be empirical and practical, with none of the genius loci mysticism that until not so long ago often weighed architecture down.

Lazzarini and Pickering’s method is not an exception in Italy. Indeed, it is legitimate to say that their method is part of the new sobriety that seems to characterize the best Italian architecture today. Cino Zucchi Architetti, Piuarch, GEZA Architettura, Park Associati, Archea, Alvisi Kirimoto, and many others are all moving in this direction, looking to connect up client and place with their specific architectural poetic. The...

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