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Energy of Time: Concentric Viewings by Paolo Mazzanti on view at Palazzo Lazzarini
Pigment print on cotton, Milan, 2005 © Paolo Mazzanti.

By: Esther Giani

PESARO.- From the notion of ‘type’ in architecture we infer a way in which society passes on, through the activity of the architect, its cultural conquests which, through form, emerge from the conscience and become the history and energy of the time. By summarizing the following definitions we can find three interpretations of the ‘type’ notion or, better, three different attitudes for research. The first one is a historical/cultural attitude, which leads to the examination of the ‘type’ set in a particular context of architectural culture and results in the historical verification of its various phenomenology. The second refers to architectural investigations of the theoretical kind, the concept of ‘type’ finds very rich soil in the investigations of similar disciplines, such as Art, Semiotics, Philosophy (just think about the many possible references to Plato’s doctrine of ideas, to Aristotle’s genre categories, to Kant’s schema, and so on). Finally the third, philological one, which, even if it remains in the architectural field, looks for a logical explanation, with a scientific method, of the typing process and investigates the nature of its expression. Of course the three different positions can interfere with one another and leave a wide range of interpretative possibilities as seen in Mazzanti’s work. But I think it sufficient, for our purposes, to bring light to some tendencies, which are still relevant and which seem to suggest new and interesting “openings” to the typological examination and to the practice of planning, which is the ultimate goal of my studies. In conclusion, I do believe the study of types is still a very useful tool and essential to planning; a procedure that should precede the stage of making and shaping the first intuition. Furthermore, the knowledge of previous experiences nourishes what we generally define as ‘idea’, it makes it cultured and pertinent to the question we are trying to answer through the architectural project.

These premises help us to comprehend the exhibited images: a concentric viewing that the author, familiar with architectural studies, shows about unusual aspects of cities the likes of Milan, Urbino, Venice. The sharp, close, precise look of a seemingly common phenomenology stresses the sense of time. Of a time set in a cultural continuum, outcome of a planned slowness which bursts out with energy in the synthesis of an instant. Profound, mysterious images of segments of architecture that compose a mosaic of viewings which, with centripetal force, coerce us to an upwards viewing. Shadows, repetitions, combinations and limitless perspectives accompany the viewer in an approaching path which is almost dizzying. And it’s a concentric path because the author brings us, in a paratactic way, towards his vision of time. A time with no beginning nor end, an approaching time that remains far away, a slow and yet whirling Time in the multitude of snapshots: an energetic solitude because, as a point of view, it’s arguable and, at the same time, commonly shared because it was deduced by a precise choice. Each choice is already a project. And each project is a teaching. The project needs time, and it cannot slip away because it can’t lose Quality. That Energy of time that gives reason (or not) to a project, be it architectural, didactic, cultural. The audience is free to identify itself in these viewings and make them its own, within the collective, shared imagination. As an architect I find in them that meaning of ‘type’ which is full of meanings, offering the author the system of references which is essential to each Project. Because project means vision. A ‘hic et nunc’ fragment of time.

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