Architecture - Architettura, English, Talks

NOTOPIA vs GENIUS LOCI

I was reading the June 2016 issue of The Architectural Review where it has been highlighted the phenomenon that they have named “Notopia” described as a loss of identity and cultural vibrancy and a global pandemic of generic buildings.

That’s true, we live in an era of globalization, where the progressive deterioration of local values is dominating, where homogenization of culture is pandemic. Urban spaces are main elements of the special structure of any cities. They serve the community functionally, visually, socially and symbolically. Their role is defining and highlighting the identity of the city and reflecting civic pride of place for the people. 

Each city has a unique quality: its genius loci (distinctive atmosphere or pervading spirit of a place) that goes beyond the built environment.

It is the responsibility of the stewards and the urban planners of the city to be sensitive to these qualities and strive to enhance them.  But usually rather than do that, they try to force their own vision on the city, neglecting what makes them special. 

What is already there tells you what would be appropriate (or inappropriate) to add when planning what should be built!

A vision borrowed from another place is the death of uniqueness of whichever territory. The genius loci of the cities represent a microcosms. What is appropriate for London is not for Paris.

One building next to another does not make a place, and many buildings do not make a city.By putting so much energy into the design of iconic buildings or places, our cities do not remain distincts, they will risk to look the same.

We can find examples everywhere, look at what is happening in La Spezia where a riqualification of a pubblic square is going to look very similar to a park in Tokyo!

Gates

Daniel Buren “25 Porticos” installations in Odaiba Bay, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by miyamiya miyamiya on flickr.b_730_793919b3301b492e808b21309e2d375b

Piazza Verdi urban renewal project, rendering with Daniel Buren porticos!

The french artist Daniel Buren together with Italian architect Giannantonio Vannetti are the winner for the Piazza Verdi urban renewal in La Spezia.Take a look at the Virtual reconstruction video on You Tube.