“Italian architecture since the First World War to today demonstrates an ‘anomalous modernity’, represented by its significant capacity to interpret and incorporate previous states through continuous metamorphosis. Not adaptations of form of the new compared to the existing in retrospect, but rather ‘grafting’ an ability to transfigure the conditions of the context into a new configuration: an attitude that was once viewed by some as nostalgic or a compromise, but which today is admired by Europe and the world as the most original contribution of Italian design culture”. (Cino Zucchi)
The theme assigned to the national pavilions - Absorbing Modernity 1914/2014 - by Rem Koolhaas will thus be developed by looking not so much for elements of “resisting the new” in the Italian territory, as the particular sense in which the modern condition is interpreted in this country.
The journey begins with the ‘case’ of Milan which has been used as an example of “laboratory of the modern”, whose architectonic and city planning affairs of the last 100 years – but also several key moments in its past history – demonstrate the particular means employed by projects with a large transformative role compared to the pre-existing urban structure. From historical Milan to the city that hosts Expo 2015, an example of great territorial transformation over recent years which will be observed in its various content and present and future developments. The exhibit continues with a series of architecture collages and with a suggestive representation of a large “contemporary landscape” made up of images of recent projects where architects from various generations are challenged with difficult settings. The video installation “Inhabited Landscapes. Life adapts to spaces that adapt to life” closes this section. A large “animated mosaic” made up of a selection of contributions sent in by the general public in response to the open call for videos, documenting the extreme diversity of the Italian landscape and of the lives it hosts.
Opening and closing the exhibition are two strong markings, two physical “grafts” in the context of the Arsenale designed by the same Cino Zucchi: Archifunnel, a large arched portal at the entrance of the pavilion, next to Gaggiandre and then a large bench-sculpture, The Virgins’ ribbon, that winds through the trees in the Giardino delle Vergini, the garden the pavilion opens out onto at the rear.