Un “Fantastique” de bibliothèque 

Marino Narpozzi is a cultured and original architect, perceptive, and highly refined. Undoubtedly thanks to his “intellectual approach” which derived from that universe of Aldo Rossi of which he was a part for many years, as a pupil and associate of the great maestro, but also and above all of an inseparable relationship between research, teaching, and design. Reading his essays in the book Marino Narpozzi. Conversazioni in-disciplinate, skilfully compiled and reorganized by the editors, Anna Maritano and Francesco Saverio Fera, is like entering the intimate world of a scholar, made up of a universe of books, delving into research which questions the most obscure aspects of the discipline, its connexions and constants, «but also the epistemological and foundational contradictions of creating architecture». As the editors of the volume write, «in his own way [Narpozzi] is a collector of books, an unmethodical gatherer», which can be understood by lingering over the quotations and notes present in this book, and they go on to add that his collection is «a library of fragments and of memory made for the construction of an original intellectual path». These multiple writings of Narpozzi, organized as a «sum of distinct parts», have been elaborated over a long period of time, written between Italy and France, where Narpozzi has taught and worked, and originate from university reflections, studies and research conducted between Venice, Paris, Nantes and Genoa, «multiple different worlds» organized not in chronological order, but by the themes which have characterized some of the author’s research during his life as a designer but above all as a militant academic. Thoughts which, as the editors underline, «are never clear-cut but are specified through representation of the complexity of reality», from a world of references, including visual ones and not only bibliographic varieties, seen in their entirety and summarized in these two words, very dear to the generation of the author and above all to the generation of masters from which he comes: “Design” and “Knowledge”. These two words recapitulate the content of this book, together with “Composition” which, not coincidentally, returns constantly in the various writings. A composition, which through the architect’s drawing, becomes «a language common to the so-called ‘sister arts’ – which has the task of making visible the emotional core that gives substance to the work» since, the author always maintains, it is in an effort «to represent the movements of the soul – which itself tends to coincide with the idea, the concept underlying every narrative». Then there is the question of Typology, which interests us «in its capacity as a classificatory tool of architecture, to make it possible to deepen the concept of architectural form and to highlight the emergence of some typical forms», but also criticism of the architectural project and, above all, perhaps Narpozzi’s most cherished theme, the teaching of the discipline. It is precisely this last aspect, the constant references to teaching, which catches the eye in these writings, which shows the author’s unceasing link with school and research. A teaching which enters a profound crisis if it becomes pure technique, given that «it no longer has anything to do with thought» and «loses all effectiveness»; sacrosanct words, opposed to that «pragmatism elevated to a system» where «the intention is no longer to teach knowledge, but to inculcate a technique». Words that today have an ever greater weight, since we now live in an age which is overly dependent on that «culture of existing purity» where «everything that happens is good because it happens, and this has been taken as aesthetic truth, producing images lacking in depth». The true image is knowledge, and in order to dream, one must not close one’s eyes, one must read, wrote Foucault in his preface to Flaubert’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony, which, not coincidentally, appears in a short bibliographical note, shown at the bottom of the author’s introductory essay entitled Il mio guardaroba (My Wardrobe) and from which the title Un “Fantastique” de bibliothèque was borrowed for this review. But what does this book explain to us? The constant need for an architect to never abandon and persistently continue the deepening of that thread of the discourse on the discipline along with the need to always bring these reflections back to current events, questioning today through an attempt to interpret and question contemporaneity, its limits and leeways, «questioning the very meaning of operating» and rejecting that disciplinary fragmentation which, as the author states, «does not mean giving up the possibility of a theory of architecture, but only means admitting the impossibility of defining principles, and abstract and meta-historical rules. The error lying precisely in describing the linear genesis of the theoretical concepts themselves, as if the words had retained their meaning and the ideas their logic». To close, a few words also on the images gathered and skilfully selected for this book. The editors’ choice fell on publishing two projects by Narpozzi, the Elba House and the Martigues Theatre, to show (they write), «the intertwining of Narpozzi’s research on architecture, so as to transform the works into words written in stone». A crucial decision in the assembly of this volume, since it is through the built works that the verification of his intellectual formulation takes place, in which the compositional and expressive aspects come to fruition establishing that necessary and timeless dialogue with a place which, in Narpozzi’s architecture, is never intended in an “abstract” or “purely conceptual” way. .

Tommaso Brighenti

Curators: Anna Maritano, Francesco Saverio Fera
: Marino Narpozzi. Conversazioni in-disciplinate
: Italian
: Aión, Florence
: 24x17 cm, 152 pages, paperback, black and white
ISBN: 978-88-98262-78-64
: 2019


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