30 June 2010

Lake Maggiore Tecnoparco. Current events and a future to be invented.


Above: In the picture: the triumphal entry to the Tecnoparco del Lago Maggiore - VCO (photo by Enrico Mercatali)
Below: an aerial view of Tecnoparco area near Gravellona Toce (VCO)

In this article we propose, in summary, on the track of "architectural tourism", abroad so lucky, to create a VCO Museum dedicated to Alo Rossi. It would be the first in the world, to our current knowledge,: And what better palce would be the Technopark of Lake Maggiore? There would be no particoular difficulty, we belive, to identify spaces and to collect, with the halp of the family an office in Milano, drawings, maquettes, photografs, project tables and more than a special commitee might seek in the world. And why not also try to reconstruct, at the mouth of the Toce river, in the reeds of Borromeo gulf, the "Teatro del Mondo" (the Theatre of the Wordl)?

About the Fondotoce Tecnoparco (Technological park), object of frequent local chronicles (especially since the province’s offices of VCO have been there settled), we would like to talk in a different way, speaking of things more connected to its image in our territory’s landscape and to what it represents in it (strongly characterizing it in such an intense patch of lake, comprised between the borromeo gulf’s poetry and the quarries, still in use, that act more and more as a background for it), rather than to its institutional role.
This cue, and the desire to make an assessment of it, over 10 years after its realization (uncompleted), was suggested to us by the International Convention “Conserving the Future”, promoted by Novalia foundation, which took place this year in the three sites of the Polytechnic in Milan, Regina Palace Hotel in Stresa and Monte Verita’ in Ascona-Switzerland (between March 15 and April 22), about the main theme of urban areas’ and natural resources’ renovation and valorisation, architectonic and landscape of the ‘900. The topic Technopark, between others, has been faced during the Convention by the Arassociati study, which signed the project in 1993 when the architect who conceived it, Aldo Rossi (Pritzker Prize 1990) was still alive. The theme has been defined a “ highly meaningful trace”, but “ not entirely understood yet” by Matilde Pugnetti, Novalia’s president, who showed her foundation’s intention to “reassess those italian urban presences that public opinion and common taste can’t appreciate in their cultural Heritage’s essence yet” (using the roman EUR as the greatest italian example).
Convinced about how true and important this task is, we can today say that the cultural debate about the Fondotoce Technopark, which has caused the most opposed reactions, has afterwards deadened, both in a local and in a disciplinary -even International- field, nearly completely dying out. We believe we can attribute this phenomenon to new and shiny rising stars (F.Gehry, Z.Hadid,D.Libeskind, and their most recent creatures), which have dampened the less shattering but much more catalyzing effect that Aldo Rossi’s work was carrying out in every part of the world during the 90’s, through the cultured and disenchanted dream language that has made it unique and universally recognizable; of course, want it or not, the most powerful contribute to italian art of the 20th Century, in a cultural and international outlook. But today, after that interest’s restrain, it looks like time could bring justice and, once the hangover from the ephemeral (as the ones who don’t have their eyes patched can see) has gone away, that work demands to be considered in its full and proper dimension.
We would like to make you understand why this is happening, speaking particularly about the Technopark’s architecture, since it’s one of the most meaningful between Rossi’s works, trying to imagine it in a new phase which could see it less passive as opposed to its own site, which could recompose its belonging and inspiration values, and could understand “ the prophecies that the shaman of architecture, through his work, has produced” (A.Ferlenga in “Listening to the voices of the world”, introductory essay to the 3rd volume of the complete Rossi’s work, Electa 1996). Just from such evaluation, more aware of the cultural outlook that could burst out of it, all the possible opinions (and economic and image returns) could be identified; for sure they would locally be really relevant, and the whole region could benefit from them, but they would surely be recorded also on a national and international level, if only we could see them and plan their presuppositions.

Therefore, let’s try to see this new and different picture, detaching its elements one from the other, because the Lake Maggiore Technopark (1993-98) is a unique and unrepeatable resource, starting from its author, architect Aldo Rossi, who has found in our lake’s environment a fertile land of inspiration, for the quantity and quality of works and projects that he left there (besides the Fondotoce Technopark, we remind you about Villa Alessi in Suna of Verbania (1989-94), the project for the new market square in Intra (1993), the tower in Villa Alessi’s garden on Orta Lake (1986), and the various cult objects of Alessi’s production (1986-88), between which the icon coffe bars insipred to the Teatro del Mondo and the Salute dome in Venice.

In the picture: Villa Alessi in Pallanza (verbania). The view of the front toward the lake (photo by Enrico Mercatali)
Nella foto: Villa Alessi a Pallanza (Verbania). Fronte verso il lago (Foto by Enrico Mercatali)

Such elements are:
1. “Aldo Rossi has been one of the greatest achitects of our time” (A.Ferlenga). A confirmation are the 3 volumes in the pretigious chain Architetti Moderni of Electa, dedicated to the complete work. We recall, just to give an example: Reconstruction of the Carlo Felice Theatre in Genova ’83, the New site of GTF in Turin ’84, the hotel Compound “Il Palazzo” in Fukuoka, Japan ’87, the Teatro-Faro in Toronto 1988, Linate Airport in Milan ’91-’93, Disney Offices in Orlando (Florida) ’91-’96, Building of Eurodisney offices in Paris 1991, Bonnefanten Museum in Maastrischt 1990-94, residential Quarter and offices in Schutzenstrasse in Berlin 1992, Building for offices in Broadway New York (Usa) 1994, the control Tower for Stoccolma airport (Sweden) 1995, etc.
2. The Lake Maggiore Technopark is, between the several works realized by Rossi, one of the most meaningful ones, because the spirit that wafts in it, maybe more markedly than in other works, completely evokes that “obscure innocence” that the author himself recognizes as a unifying fluid of his whole work, able to inform and distort its essence, meeting, in his well-distilled architecture essays, Boecklin, Vitruvio, Petrarca, Boullee, Nervi, Giacometti…
3. The “campus” of the Technopark could make “system”, in the context of works and references phisically complementary in site (such as the Alessi museum in Crusinallo, the Omega Forum and the Ecomuseum of Cusio, Alessi villas, etc.), able to constitute a strong thematic pole of attraction addressed to tourism in general, but particularly to the architectural one.

In the picture below: The Teatro del Mondo by Aldo Rossi, beside the church "della Salute" in Venice
Nella foto qui sotto: Il Teatro del Mondo di Aldo Rossi davanti alla chiesa della Salute a Venezia

4. The International tourism of contemporary architecture is today considered, if not the most powerful one, at least between the most powerful ones, clot and formation tools of economic resources of a territory, a city, a region, even a state (let’s think about an example from the 20th century: the Gaudi’s Sagrada Famiglia in Barcellona (under construction since 1882), the Atomium in Bruxelles (1958), or the most recent phenomenons like Guggenhaim of Bilbao (1997), the berliner reconstruction of Norman Foster’s Reichstag (1995-99), the berliner Renzo Piano’s Klee Museum (2005), able to revolutionize, year by year, even the most consolidate flows). In Italy, This type of tourism has had really little weight so far, while a lot has had abroad. Italy is in fact today crossed by a tourism attracted by its towns rich in monuments, but it still has to do much concerning the up-to-date. The idea of “Conserving the Future”, considered this way, would be in Italy a real time bomb for our touristic future, if someone could trigger it.

From the considerations up to here made, our suggestion, addressed to the economic operators in our area, is the one summarizable in the following slogans:
a. Relaunching the Technopark completing its original plan and enriching it with proper functions to insert it in a thematic system able to become a strong pole of national and international touristic attraction.
b. Creating a permanent exposition dedicated to Aldo Rossi (still nonexistent today), inside the Technopark’s structures, able to describe his entire work of architect, set designer and designer, drawing the material on all the available sources, public and private.
c. Promoting a plan that could activate in site the existing resources, making them converge in an organic project of cultural and touristic valorisation.
We will make ourselves supporters of this suggestion’s success in quality, following if possible every passage, trying everything to divulge and promote it in every possible site.

Aldo Rossi: Addition of the Modena cemetery - 1973 - lithography in the Casabella's collection

Milano, May 8th 2007
(Prepared for Eco del Verbano, and never pubbliched before)

Enrico Mercatali

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