Autonomy by Drawing: Gianugo Polesello on Route ’66
This article questions the revival of ‘La Tendenza’ in the recent architectural debate, taking the work of Gianugo Polesello as a privileged vantage point. The Italian architect – along with Aldo Rossi, Giorgio Grassi, Guido Canella and other protagonists of that approach – taught in the Venetian PhD programme attended by the author, who recalls here his first-hand experience.
The economic, ecological, and social crisis we are dealing with has generated, in academic discussions, a widespread re-emergence of political engagement, felt as a necessary alternative to the neo-liberal pensée unique that has dominated recent decades. Various important theoretical contributions from mid-1960s, such as the ambiguous mixture of populism and formal research, of radicalism and reactions against modernism, are therefore back in the architectural debate. Among the several approaches produced by that agitated moment, the Italian movement ‘La Tendenza’ contributed to redefine the disciplinary field in terms of language and autonomy, shifting its focus from design to composition and from the transformative attitude of the zeitgeist to a continuity with existing typo-morphological contexts.
Gianugo Polesello, a partner in some early projects of Aldo Rossi – main protagonist of that movement – and a member, with Rossi and other young architects, of the journal Casabella’s ‘think tank’, shared that theoretical operation, conducted, however, through a more explicit and precise medium: architectural design or, more precisely, architectural drawing applied to design. His approach provides an interesting vantage, able to shed some light on a period and a generation that, at a closer look, appear less coherent than their latest reconstructions.
Bernard Cache, ‘Obama versus Irresponsability: Can Moderation Triumph over Greed’, in Projectiles (London: AA Publications, 2011).
Pippo Ciorra, ‘(Un)political’, in This Thing Called Theory, ed. by Teresa Stoppani, Giorgio Ponzo, George Themistokleous (London: Routledge, 2016).
Vittorio Gregotti, Il territorio dell’architettura (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1966).
Philip Johnson, Jeffrey Kipnis, ‘A Conversation Around the Avant-Garde’, in Autonomy and Ideology. Positioning an Avant-Garde in America, ed. by Robert Somol (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997).
Michel Kubo, ‘Publishing Practices’, Volume, 22 (2009).
Marina Montuori (ed.), Lezioni di progettazione. 10 maestri dell’architettura italiana (Milan: Electa, 1988).
Gundula Rakowitz (ed.), Gianugo Polesello. Dai quaderni (Padua: Il poligrafo, 2015).
Aldo Rossi, L’architettura della città (Venice: Marsilio, 1966).
Massimo Scolari, interviewed by Léa-Catherine Szacka and Thomas Weaver, AA Files, 65 (2012).
Francesco Tentori, ‘Nell’epoca dei linguaggi personali,’ in Materiali per il corso di progettazione urbana (Venice: Iuav-Dpa, 1989).
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966).
Mirko Zardini (ed.), Gianugo Polesello. Architetture 1960-1992 (Milan: Electa, 1992).
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.