TT 2011 Ischia

Ischia 25 july 2011

The fourth edition of the Ischia International Architecture Prize has recently come to a close. The event focuses its attention on structures for tourism capable of uniting the qualities of hospitality with respect for the environment. Hosted inside the “La Colombaia” villa, the former residence of the Italian film director Luchino Visconti, from the 18 to 24 July 2011, the event is the fruit of the collaboration between the associazione PIDA, the Ordine degli Architetti, Pianificatori, Paesaggisti e Conservatori di Napoli e Provincia, ANAB (Associazione Nazionale Architettura Bioecologica) and Federalberghi.

In a moment of calm and distance that only time can offer, it is worthwhile asking: “what inheritance has been left to the island of Ischia by this fourth edition of the PIDA?” A conspicuous one, given the vast number of cultural proposals made during the course of the event.

On the first evening of discussions, the 21 July, a lively debate focused on the controversial issue of the relationship between Art and Architecture. The discussion was led by Stefano Casciani, Raffaele Cutillo, Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi and Francesco Rispoli, moderated by Giancarlo Graziani. Six artists presented their design proposals for the requalification and beautification of symbolic spaces on the island. Six public squares in which to concentrate the work of the artists participating in this initiative. Riccardo Dalisi chose to work with the plaza in front of the Aragonese Castle in Ischia Ponte. Giovanni De Angelis proposed three interventions for three different plazas: the first in the traffic-filled Piazza degli Eroi in Ischia, the second a sculpture for Piazza Girardi in Lacco Ameno, and the third for the Belvedere in Barano d’Ischia. Felix Policastro chose the Piazza di Sant’Angelo, while the Studio Rotella intervened in Piazza San Francesco in Forio. Perino and Vele proposed an installation for the centre of Casamicciola Terme. Roberto Serino and Paola Galante inserted their piece in the Piazza del Porto in Forio. At the end of the evening, the amphitheatre of the Colombaia hosted the installation of a sculpture by Dalisi, on loan from the Galleria Del Monte, donated by the architect to the Fondazione la Colombaia to recall the event. A symbolic gesture and an invitation to other artists to donate their work to reinforce the relationship between art and the city.

On the evening of the 22 July the discussion focused on the controversial role of the architect, the profession, the proposed new law governing the quality of architecture and the tool of design competitions as a methodology for awarding commissions. While introducing the theme, Giancarlo Graziani underlined that the role of the architect is based on a simple objective in a context complicated by legislation and scheduling. Gerardo Maria Cennamo, vice president of the Ordine Architetti di Napoli, presented the results of the survey being completed by CRESME, together with the country’s Architectural Associations. This thematic survey is designed to investigate different disciplines, in this case related to architecture, with the objective of understanding what is happening in the professional world. Giorgio Santilli, a journalist with the Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, together with his editorial team, has prepared a draft bill that makes competitions a necessary step in the awarding of public works. The competition represents the sole instrument that favours dialogue between the various figures involved in the realisation of public projects: the client, the architect and the end user. The proposal has met with much success amongst those in the field, professional associations, and politicians from different parties, and has been accepted by a number of members of Parliament, who have further developed Law n. 4492, recently presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The proposal introduces modifications to the code governing public contracts, with the intent of promoting the quality of architecture and the discipline of design. Alessandro Castagnaro, president of ANIAI applauded the PIDA for having managed, over the past four years, to propose progressively more involving initiatives. In particular, this year’s theme of the relationship between art and architecture offered many interesting reflections. Even the Workshop helps us to understand that through creativity it is possible to make better architecture. For Paola Pisciotta, a national councillor with the Ordine degli architetti, there is currently an attempt to demolish professional associations. If this were to happen, the architect would find himself an employee of building contractors. In a moment of crisis such as that which we are currently facing, there is instead a need for more protection for architects, the most disadvantaged figure in the building process. Michele Calise, urban planning councillor with the Municipality of Forio, examined the problem from a different point of view, due both to his education in law and the position he holds. Competitions are a necessary tool for producing architecture of quality. Competitions are witness to the participation of talented architects who present realistic projects. The PIDA is an example that this is possible: projects of significant value were prepared both last year for the PAFO, and this year for the Carabinieri headquarters. The problem is that local governments face numerous legislative and bureaucratic restrictions and economic difficulties. The evening concluded with the inauguration of the exhibition of photographs by the photographer-architect Luigi Filetici, entitled Metamorfosi urbane.

On the final evening, the 23 July, the stage of the Colombaia’s suggestive amphitheatre hosted the PIDA awards ceremony. Its organisers, Giovannangelo De Angelis (president), Daniela Marino, Lucia Regine, Carla Tufano, Simone Verde and Elisa Vitale demonstrated that good architecture exists and above all there are professionals who believe in this idea and invest their time such that their ideas become reality, notwithstanding the many difficulties they encounter in Italy.

The COMPETITION’s Architecture prize was assigned to Rosario Cusenza and Maria Salvo for their environmental recovery of an abandoned quarry on the island of Favignana and its conversion into a four star underground hotel; the Interior Design prize was awarded to Mauro Piantelli (studio DE8) for the Design YAS Marina Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The SPECIAL JURY PRIZES were assigned to Mario Cucinella, winner of the PIDA Sustainability award, for his consistent interest in issues related to environmental design and sustainability in architecture; to Italo Rota, winner of the PIDA Career award for his hotels, which propose an approach to design that offers an unconventional mixture of colours, materials, lights and traditions; to Giorgio Santilli, winner of the PIDA Journalism award, for his battle to obtain a law governing the quality of architecture and to ensure that the design competition becomes a democratic and participative tool guaranteeing the quality of final results; to Luigi Filetici, winner of the PIDA Photography award, for his photographs that interpret form and space, offering a critical reading of architecture through the composition and use of light.

Finally, awards were distributed to the projects developed during the design WORKSHOP “From Eco-Monster to Eco-Beauty”, which began on 18 July. The project called for the conversion of a concrete skeleton in the town of Forio d’Ischia into the new Carabinieri headquarters. The Workshop was coordinated by Mario Cucinella, in turn assisted by three tutors: Linda Nubani, Francesco Rispoli with Mattia Leone, and Federico Verderosa. The architects who participated in the Workshop are all recent graduates, selected based on their curriculum vitae. Of the many submissions received, 12 candidates were selected based on their final grades: Galina Bogdanova, Adriano Calicchio, Giulio Carra, Luigi Cimmino, Nicola Di Biase, Immacolata Di Francesco, Claudia Gamba, Patrizia Iualè, Sarah Khawaja, Claudia Muto, Lucia Secondo and Francesco Valente.

The Jury, under the direction of Mario Cucinella, and composed of Paola Bovier, representing the Naples Superintendent’s Office, the lighting designer Filippo Cannata, Gennaro Polichetti, president of the Ordine degli Architetti di Napoli and a representative of the Arma dei Carabinieri, awarded the following prizes:

– the 2011 PIDA Workshop Award to the project DOPPIO SENSO, for its attentive integration with the landscape and highly symbolic appearance that recovers the existing by concealing it;

– the 2011 PIDA Workshop Sustainability Award to the project A POINT OF VIEW, UN EDIFICIO, UN CONCETTO, PIÙ DIREZIONI, for its strong proposal of a new and carefully planned point of view, and its contemporary appearance;

– the 2011 PIDA Workshop Lighting Award to the project UN MURO, UN TETTO, UNA PIAZZA, for the development of a proposal that plays with light and transforms it into an opportunity for a new architectural sign.

The inheritance, it is clear, is a conspicuous one, though it depends upon the capacity of its heirs to intelligently manage it. This may seem a banal comment, as any inheritance must be well administered otherwise it is wasted, or falls into disuse. In this case, the inheritance is a vast collection of ideas and proposals that can be conceptualised, and implemented without great difficulties and without an excessive expenditure of economic resources, so long as institutional interlocutors are wiling to dialogue with the artists and architects making these proposals.

There are two concrete proposals: the artistic projects for Ischia’s public plazas, and the projects developed by the three groups of architects for the Workshop From Eco-Monster to Eco-Beauty are readily available to competent local administrations who, this year more than ever, find themselves with an easily accessible inheritance.