This is a period of wide-ranging responsibilities for architects. At a recent meeting in Milan, Prof. Arch. Raffaele Sirica, President of the National Council of Italian Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Conservators (CNAPPC), pointed out how architects in Great Britain and France had been called upon "to design brand new ecosustainable cities".
Transmitting Architecture, the UIA (International Union of Architects) World Congress to be held in Turin (29 June – 3 July 2008), will pave the way for the future of the architectural profession so that it can respond to global challenges.
UIA President Gaetan Siew believes the event will find fertile ground among professionals committed both to working for the defence of the genius loci and to checking the excessive power of globalisation, understood as being a process of uniformity that cancels out local traditions and identities. As underlined by Giancarlo Ius, candidate for the UIA presidency, architecture will respond on an ethical level to the challenges of today, with ideas and proposals for integration and convergence: architecture understood as a service.
To this we would like to add that our civilization is Christian, as is reflected, and will continue to be so, in its architecture, city planning, and landscaping. After all, surroundings bear witness to long-standing settlements of life and culture (can anyone imagine the Padanian countryside, the Hyblean Mountains, or our city skylines without the towering silhouettes of bell towers?).
As was clearly expounded at the Rome conference ‘Costruire bene per vivere meglio’ [building well to live better], organised by the CEI, new churches will all have to be ecosustainable, just like they used to be. Devices used over the centuries by vernacular architecture, which modernism (armed with new techniques and materials) had cancelled with its illusion of power, are coming back in vogue.
Truly new technologies are those that allow for the efficient use of renewable energy: from photovoltaics to geothermics. It is no coincidence that this also proved to be an important feature in many projects for the National Award for Ideas Architecture Culture & Sport that CHIESA OGGI architettura e comunicazione organized with CNAPPC, in collaboration with CEI, the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, and CONI. It was an exemplary event not least because all participants – those who on 13 June 2008 received the award and those who put forward their contributions and ideas – understood the importance of designing in harmony with the environment.
The UIA World Congress welcomes these initiatives associated to the territory and to tradition, albeit with a global perspective. They will also be welcomed by the Venice Biennale: for the 2008 edition, CHIESA OGGI architettura e comunicazione will be present with a dedicated space in the convent of San Francesco della Vigna, in the cloister of the San Bernardino Institute of Ecumenical Studies, where it will bring its experience (now in its eighteenth year) as an agora for open dialogue between nations, peoples, and cultures (see article on pp. 54-58).
It is revealing how architects of the world all agree to underlining the importance of cultural rootedness, which gives an international dimension to the defence of the genius loci, and is a historical first among architects. It is a stance that says no to the centuries of reciprocal aggressions and attempts at imposing one culture over another that have characterised history up until now.
As part of this new outlook, we are pleased to announce collaboration between CHIESA OGGI architettura e comunicazione and Faith & Form, an American magazine of international standing, which not only promotes a well-informed debate on the complexity of the liturgical space among all those who contribute to the publication, but also awards on an annual basis an authoritative architecture prize, now in its thirtieth year. From today, the results of the award will also be made known to Italian readers, while English readers will be informed of awards results organised by CHIESA OGGI architettura e comunicazione. As editor of Faith & Form, Michael J. Crosbie writes "There is strength in numbers, and collaboration with other publications gives us the possibility of reaching a broader readership".
We believe in these initiatives because the purpose of communication is precisely to broaden one’s horizons.
We invite you to read the words of Mr Crosbie on page 41, which we endorse as a sign of transatlantic agreement—a gesture that unites the architects of the world in the interests of the environment and mankind.
Giuseppe Maria Jonghi Lavarini, architetto