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Assertive, Abstract Modernity

Studio Fuksas

Studio Fuksas

Assertive, Abstract Modernity
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

Studio Fuksas (Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas) marked an important moment in Italian architecture. The Fuksas couple made their name in the early 1990s when Italian architecture was at its lowest ebb, the academic, project-based approach leading to constructions that fell far short of the theoretical plan on the drawing board. It was during this inglorious period that Renzo Piano came to the fore. An international architect, Piano was not only careful to avoid the trap of postmodern historicism, he also increasingly distanced himself from the aggressive high-tech approach of his training to become an elegant, attentive designer with a gift for projects proposing a modernity at peace with itself. Fuksas’ reaction to the trend of that time was more forceful. His impactful work echoed Bruno Zevi’s call for more powerful, plastic architecture that might even lean towards brutalism as long as it fully engaged the observer. For Zevi, the answer to the detested postmodern historicism of the time was deconstructivism, the incarnation of his dream of architecture free from the chains imposed by style. Zevi’s dream did, in fact, seem realized in the “super modernity” of the Fuksas team, which had always rejected the idea of reducing architecture to a mere question of style. Today, however, the difference between Fuksas’ super modernity and deconstructivism has become clearly apparent. While deconstructivism tended towards fragmentation, even to the point of decoration – albeit with modern materials and technology – the architecture of the Fuksas couple is, in contrast, compact, its plasticity consistent. This was no chance outcome. Massimiliano Fuksas had lived and worked in France in the 1980s when modernism was being rediscovered by the likes of Jean Nouvel and Dominique Perrault. The impactful plasticity of their minimal, stereometric projects – think, Institut du Monde Arabe or the National Library in Paris...

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