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Combining Form and Process

Degli Esposti Architetti

Combining Form and Process
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

Alberto Savinio used to wander around Milan, a city that at first sight seemed to him made up of a single unified form. However, it was only a first impression, he realized. On closer inspection, Milan revealed its contradictions, and an unexpected depth of field. The title of the book in which Savinio describes his impressions and how, after careful observation, the apparent compactness of the city was transformed almost as if by some alchemy into complexity of form, is significant: Ascolto il tuo cuore, città (city, I listen to your heart). Listening to the heart of Milan’s urban forms and its buildings, is to observe the character of Milan beyond the rules of “urban decorum” that at first glance seem to hold everything together.

Lorenzo Degli Esposti is a Milanese with a difference: his enquiring mind did not buy into the typical decorum his city professed. For him, just like Savinio, Milan is a city where you have to understand what it is that the city had expunged. The poetic of Degli Esposti, who will associate with Paolo Lazza, was forged during his training: at Politecnico di Milano where he graduated and completed his doctorate. It was a time when the urban school – sustained by morphological and typology studies – held sway, imposing its rules. Its underlying concept was that the city inspired certainty; one simply had to follow the rules that allegedly engendered this certainty, and the result, as if by parthenogenesis, would be buildings that although perhaps not that beautiful would be “right”.

It was a stable urban model whose tenets not only had to be followed but which remained fixed in time. However, this ran completely counter to the fact that since the days of Arrigo Boito and Edoardo Persico, instability has been the prevalent feature of Italian architecture, with the result that – almost unwittingly – the very apologists of the “frozen”...

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