This week, we will restart the series of public lectures at the faculty of architecture and creative design. We will start this year with Tomà Berlanda PH.d, a senior lecturer and a researcher of the department of architecture in FAED. Tomà has also taught in Italy, switzerland and the United States.

Tomà Berlanda, is an architect and a researcher. Born in Venice he developed his studies of architecture in the Accademia della architettura di Mendrisio (USI) and then got his Ph.D in the Politecnico di torino, with the thesis: topographical Lexicon. He will present his research on the way buildings "touch" the ground. How different architects and buildings try to give answers and react to their sites.

The Lecture will take place at FAED Building TODAY 9th december 2011, 4.00pm

The research project stems from a reflection on the relationship between architecture and place.

Amidst many, two question, which have already and at length been debated, deserve further investigation and experimentation. The first is the hiatus between recurrent statements on the necessity of the marking of the ground, the importance of placing the building, of the topographical situation, and the absence of scientific criteria to put into practice these indications. “Great” architects, more or less consciously, build up their personal toolbox. Aalto’s drawings show “one single and integral moment of stratigraphy, of every stratigraphy including lakes, water and seas, and contour lines”, in Utzon’s buildings the constructive logic of the tectonic form and the syntactic logic of geometry are continuously interacting, in Siza the work of the architect is thoroughly linked to that of the topographer. But the attention to the geographic patterns of places, to the form of the landscape and the singularities of topographies is not immediately translated into architecture, and to establish which are the moments of mediation is no easy task.

The second question is the diffused habit, almost a stereotype in the critical language, of praising a building as an “architecture creating a place where once stood a site”, without addressing the question “which are the reasons that make it possible for a work of architecture to create a place”. This omission is often the reason for an indiscriminate recourse to paradigms belonging to other disciplines. Thus, the architect who manipulates the landscape not only builds above the earth but modifies it through excavations, the architect in charge of great infrastructures seeks the relationship with the ground in a different dimension, the architect-geographer mediates between different morphological situations. What is missing, instead, is an explicit and fruitful work of disciplinary crossbreeding with land art and its interest to the quality of materials and transformations due to the climatic and seasonal changes.

Somewhere in between the two questions hereby posed, the hypothesis guiding the research project is that it is possible, other the necessary, to set up a sort of repertoire of elementary topographical conditions and that this operation would serve in a better understanding of how each of them is transformed in a grammar of transmissible design actions and not only related to individual sensibility. The lexicon is the intellectual tools that tries to do this.

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