By choosing the title of Seed for this festival, the organizers are expressing “a spirit of generosity towards tomorrow and future generations. It’s not possible to know in advance how a seed will grow, but it requires two actions: planting and pollination,” said Andrea Margaritelli, president of the National Institute of Architecture (In/Arch), at the press conference for the first Seed international architecture festival. The event is being staged April 24–30 in both Perugia and Assisi. A week full of events, talks, entertainment, and phygital sessions, the festival will see the participation of architects, designers, urban planners, scientists, virologists, humanists, artists, psychologists, and economists. Using the image of pollination, but raised to the nth degree for the widest possible effect, the Guglielmo Giordano Foundation, In/Arch, and the Umbra Foundation for Architecture have organized this new event that, instead of focusing on urban regeneration (which will nevertheless be a key theme), will focus on human regeneration, and instead of focusing on a new relationship between humans and nature, will focus on the relationship between nature and our inner selves.
Seed has the backing of the Umbria Region, the Municipality and Province of Perugia, the Perugia Foundation, and the Municipality of Assisi. It also won the second Festival Architettura, supported by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture. The festival will constantly interweave architecture, urban planning, design, territory, and life on earth (the five themes of the Perugia program) as well as the sacred in architecture (the focus of the Assisi event).
Both peaceful, green cities, the choice of Perugia and Assisi was no accident. On the one hand, both offer an example of cooperation, which is a core value of Seed in its goal to grow a vision of humans as part of nature itself and of a union between two non-separate entities. On the other, the festival has been recognized as an essential part of a vision that led to the candidacy of Assisi as Capital of Culture 2025. The city is now one of the finalists.
Also present at the press conference was Donatella Tesei, president of the Umbria Region; Stefania Proietti, mayor of Assisi and of the Province of Perugia; and Claudio Minciotti, director of the Umbra Foundation for Architecture.
“Humans must reconnect with other forces. We must look to the earth to re-establish a relationship with nature and other living things; we must look upwards to be reconciled with the angels and spirits.” This quote by Joseph Beuys served as the seed from which the festival’s mission gradually took shape. More specifically, the event is calling for us to “change our mind” about climate and ecosystem changes that are jeopardizing our very existence on the planet. From this perspective, changing your mind means getting rid of that self-centered vision that has led us to modifying the world around us for the sake of our own wellbeing and comfort. We now need to redefine expectations, our ideas about urban life, the consolidated habits of the manufacturing and distribution of goods, and the way we build, heat, cool, and feed ourselves.
According to the organizers, it’s more important than ever that we value and give form to the synonymy between environment and health, an interconnection that’s symbolized by the twisting ribbon of the event logo, with the green of the forests and biomass fading into the blue of the oceans and glaciers.
Without implying any particular religion, reconciling with nature also means reconciling with the sacred. Reconciling with the angels to re-establish a relationship with the earth means recognizing the sacredness of creation. In our constant search for God, we’ve built places where the sacred, in a poly-religious sense, can dwell. The sacred is therefore not only an action of projection and recognition, but also of construction.
To work out the best way to address such a complex subject, the organizers all sat down around a table. This formed the embryo of the community they gradually built, beginning with the speakers and guests. But this community isn’t just digital, like social networks. In fact, unlike a social network, Seed has both a keen focus and a physicality – the opposite of the virtual world. But Seed is also something more: it’s an invitation to people, institutions, businesses, and experts from various fields to collaborate in the design of cities and territories. Community, in this sense, is collective intelligence.
Some of the key figures from the world of design at Seed will be Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Benedetta Tagliabue, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen-Snohetta, Michele De Lucchi, Open Architecture, Carlo Ratti, Paola Viganò, Mario Cucinella, Joseph Grima, Bjarke Ingels Group, Patricia Viel, and Mvrdv.
But there will also be the virologist and science popularizer Ilaria Capua who, with her show Le parole della salute circolare (The words of circular health), will dialogue with actress Antonella Attili to address the concept of health as a circular and integrated system, and the only way possible to build a sustainable and just world. A focus on the relationship between architecture and cellular biology will form the heart of the discussion between architect Michele De Lucchi and biologist, musician-composer Emiliano Toso, who’ll perform on a piano tuned to 432 Hz (also known as Verdi’s A), a frequency often said to be more in tune with the vibrations of natural organisms.
Seed, therefore, is “A bridge between memory and the future, and an invitation to foresight.”
Location: Perugia e Assisi
Date: April, 24th-30th