Minuta FAM

Between identity, memory and innovation: new guidelines for a sustainable valorisation of Lake Garda

In this book Umberto Minuta publishes the results of his research carried out in the PHD course “Form and Structures of Architecture” at the University of Parma. He uses his experience both in teaching and professional activity, matured during these last years. Beginning from his interest in the relationship between land and water in architectural design, he proposes some design theories for the particular case of shores and the larger Mediterranean culture. Offering new guidelines and methods, in his book Minuta develops an articulated system for analyzing the relationship between architectural design and its context. Minuta organizes the book into three parts. In the first part, collecting and analyzing meanings, definitions and interpretations, he introduces a contemporary concept of landscape, considering the European Landscape Convention adopted in 2000. In the second part, his research offers ten guidelines each one dealing with a specific critical issue. In the last part, he exposes a summary of the research findings. Minuta reaches the goals of his research by identifying the ways in which the relationship between land and water was treated in the last century and proposing future strategic projects to be applied in a Mediterranean context, located between the Alps and the Po Valley. In fact, Lake Garda can be considered an extreme frontier of the Mediterranean style. The Lake is still an important link between two different worlds: the Central European Germanic one and the Mediterranean Latin one. It plays a mediating role between the alpine context and the Po Valley. Accepting the existence of a plurality of ways of talking about landscape, Minuta warns us that there are different types of landscapes (artistic, scientific, natural, artificial, mental imagery, urban, archaeological, social and political). In addition to a complex multiplicity of fields of investigation, Minuta underlines the existence of a morphological and structural complexity. In fact, landscapes can be considered as different entities in constant evolution. After an analysis of the term landscape and its historical and geographical articulations, Minuta identifies a fil rouge between the different meanings: the non-coincidence of the town with the landscape itself. In fact, the terms ‘paesaggio’ / ‘paysage’ contains the words ‘paese’ / ‘pays’ [town/village] but also adds a perspective or (better) a vision of it through the suffixes ‘-aggio’ / ‘-age’. Between the numerous definitions of the term ‘landscape’, Minuta chooses three modes of representation: the point of view of humanists, geographers and architects. Citing the arguments of scholars such as Camporesi, Pedretti, Shama, Vitta, Dubbini, Simmel, Bodei, Romano and Jakob, Minuta explores the term ‘landscape’ from a philosophical and literary point of view. He highlights the elusive character of a definition of this term and its close relationship with the concept of memory. The experience of the landscape is thus revisited in its historical, artistic and philosophical development. In particular, the philosophical vision leads to the concept of landscape as a sublime place. From the eighteenth century the challenge launched by man to the greatness and dominance of nature leads to a mixture of curiosity and fear which contributes to the discovery of an intense and captivating beauty, a new immensity where man wants to get lost. Minuta concludes this phase by identifying two interesting paradoxes. The first concerns the representation of a landscape in a definite moment which is confronted, in reality, with a constantly changing phenomenological identity. The second paradox arises from the double meaning of the term: its representation and the thing itself, that is what a person perceives at a specific moment. In fact, the landscape can be considered the stratification of many landscape images sedimented in our memory and cannot exist in itself but as something that communicates to a conscious being. Minuta explores the point of view of geographers by analyzing the thinking of various scholars (Gambi, Sestini, Sereni, Farinelli, Dal Sasso, Franchini, Turri) and emphasizing, in particular, that of Lucio Gambi who considers the geographic landscape an abstract synthesis of visible landscapes. Gambi’s sensory landscape is made up of a very large number of elements and is hardly repeated in its entirety at different points on the Earth’s surface. The geographic landscape is, on the contrary, made up of a small number of elements: in this way it is possible to attempt the identification and comparison of the main forms of the terrestrial landscape. Minuta concludes this part by stressing the need to have an interdisciplinary, not multidisciplinary, approach (Tosco, 2007) to obtain an active communication of knowledge, the intersection of skills and the integration of objectives to be achieved. Minuta describes the point of view of architects and urban planners citing the meaning of landscape for architects according to Prandi: everything that can have a relationship with the project, regardless of topology and geographical location. Prandi hypothesizes different degrees of balance between architecture and landscape and indicates some emblematic Italian cases. From the figurative dimension of the landscape defined by Le Corbusier, to the "third landscape" of Clément, through the procedural landscape of Purini and the anthropogeographical one of Gregotti (or landscape as "large scale architecture"), Minuta continues her analysis work reaching the relationship between painting as silent poetry and poetry as a speaking painting defined by Ponte who questions the disappearance of the 'genre' landscape from aesthetics, transforming itself into a non-architecture. Minuta concludes by emphasizing, once again, the elusiveness of a current definition of landscape in the architectural sphere. Probably, as Migliorini claims, also for Minuta, today, the notion of landscape appears as a need for knowledge and analysis within a complex stratification of environmental transformations, both past and in progress. As Turri says: reading the landscape is like reading a book or like attending a theatrical performance. For this reason, Minuta identifies reading codes (recognizable signs) that can help us give meaning to what we see. Finally, citing Salerno, Minuta deals with the issue of landscape survey by proceeding through a plurality of registers ('aesthetic' or 'physiognomic' survey): from the analysis of space, to its transformations, to the materials that constitute it. Minuta concludes this part by citing the very current issue raised by Jakob: the landscape is no longer just the expression of a uniformed world, but it is also one of the essential means that contribute to the growing globalization of concepts and visual schemes. The overview of landscape definitions aims to define the characteristics of the landscape of Lake Garda. Minuta treats the topic by describing the environmental and coastal framework of the lake starting from the stories of the famous travelers among whom Goethe stands out, who defines Garda as a "wonderful effect of nature". After a detailed description of the lake from a physical, morphological and geographic point of view, Minuta focuses on the historical period in which the passage from the evocative definition of "travel" to the more popular one of "tourism" took place. Since the second half of the nineteenth century, scientific innovations (the steam locomotive) and the change in economic structures also involve Lake Garda, characterized by a strategic position and crossroads of important communication routes. At the end of the nineteenth century, Lake Garda still presented itself as unspoiled nature, especially in the northern regions. After the unification of Italy, the main productive sectors were represented by agriculture, fishing and manufacture. Before the tourist boom, the luck of the Garda centers depended on commercial traffic and the presence of efficient ports. In Minuta's work, the issue of the identity of Lake Garda plays a very important role. He describes the lake through the eyes of the famous travelers and the Grand Tour, and he underlines its evident Mediterranean character. These aspects turned into publicity for wealthy Austrian and German families who started the new season of lake tourism. Identifying the practice of the restoration of ancient aristocratic villas as the most fashionable design practice, Minuta points out the architects Franco and Caregaro Negrin's works and lists a series of Villas located on the Veronese shore. Through a detailed examination of the negative effects of a speculative urbanization, from the overbuilding of the coasts to the ‘urban furniture' project, Minuta arrives at the description of the current critical condition of mobility conditioned by an unfavorable orography. In fact, the Gardesana road has become the cornerstone of the urbanization system, connecting holiday homes, campsites and restaurants that have absorbed the old inhabited areas. Citing Turri, Minuta recalls that the future challenge of the Garda region will focus on the protection of the identity of Lake Garda, consisting of its relationship with the surrounding areas, with the mountains and hills that are part of its landscape intended in its perceptive unity. Minuta concludes this part by minutely describing the main architectures of the second half of the twentieth century built by important architects such as Muzio and Maroni, Cecchini, Fedrigolli, Bontempi and Betta. He dwells on the house of the writer André Bloc and on the renovation of the Salò’s lakefront, both by Vittoriano Viganò. He lists some accommodations built by Vercelloni and Mazzucchelli, by Sottsass, Perghem Gelmi and Lorenzi. Before the second part of the book, Minuta offers a list of Garda’s architectures accompanied by maps and divided into the three provinces that overlook the lake: Brescia, Trento, Verona. In the heart of the book, Minuta presents its proposal of guidelines based on a new methodology and a new vision of places which, first of all, must consider the environmental, landscape and naturalistic values consecrated by a centuries-old culture. Minuta's new procedural interpretation of places is articulated according to three scales: the architectural, urban and landscape dimensions. With great skill and methodically, Minuta proposes ten guidelines based on theoretical references and accompanied by exemplary projects. After proposing a new vision of the places (first guideline), Minuta organizes the following nine guidelines into groups of three, obtaining three groups corresponding to three scale aspects of an interpretation of the identity of the various places: giving value to the permanence of the tracing of the towns’ defensive walls highlighting their monumental character (architecture), redeveloping the natural lake shoreline by enhancing the adjacent public and private areas (towns), controlling urban dispersion by giving value to the architectures of historical importance and rethinking the great road network (landscape).

Olivia Longo

Author: Umberto Minuta
Title: Paesaggio e architettura sul Lago di Garda
Subtitle: Strategie per un progetto contemporaneo
Language: italian
Series: Città Natura Infrastrutture
Publisher: FrancoAngeli
Characteristic: 14x21,5 cm, paperback, b/w
ISBN: 9788891768629


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