SCHIZO-INTERVIEWS: Alfredo Passeri
Appraisal and Economic Evaluation of Projects Associate Professor at Study University Roma Tre. Alfredo Passeri was born in Rome in 1948. He graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of Rome in 1974 with a thesis on Rome entitled “Analysis and intervention in urban housing and services in Borgo Pio”. Many of his critical essays, dedicated to public housing in Rome, were published in the journal “L’Industria delle Costruzioni” of which he was editor from 1977. He was editor of the magazine “Eupalinus” directed by Paolo Portoghesi. He participated in exposing the draft Ca ‘Venier dei Leoni, the Third International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1985. His works, in the early years of occupation, have been published in ” L’Industria delle Costruzioni” n. 205, November 1988. It was, from 1992 to 2001, member of the Building Commission, appointed the Order of Architects of Rome, in the town of Castel Gandolfo. On behalf of the Rector of the Third University of Rome has been Coordinator of the Technical University from May 1994 to April 1995. Since 1990, dealing with – even for professional reasons – the theme of “Urban Design” in the production process of settlement, has perfected and refined his own personal attitude towards the issues of environmental assessment, land and the city. He is a member of do.co.mo.mo. (documentation of building conservation, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement). He has conducted research on construction of the Roman twenties, thirties and forties, with particular reference to the singular transformation of the EUR, the Foro Italico, dell’Ostiense-Valco San Paolo, all the way through to the assessments made on behalf of Third University who produced the choices in the course of the University, in agreement with the Municipality of Rome and the Office Roam Capitale. Many of the studies – always starting from the building of the Roman years between the wars – constitute a monitoring of existing assets, seen as a “commodity” to protect and preserve. In the most closely related to the profession of architect, these studies represent an essential basis for control of land and real estate market. From January 1997 to July 2003 he was Chairman of the Commission to INPDAP Adequacy, National Insurance Institute for Employees of Public. In May-July 1999, he held a refresher course at the ECIPA LAZIO (home of Frosinone) on the topic of “Judicial Surveys”. For the Order of Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Conservationists Province of Rome and lectures each year to prepare for the state exams for the exercise of the profession for graduates in Architecture. For the CESARCH (Centre of Studies of the Architects of Rome) classes held annually as part of seminars for “Technical Consultant”. The Director’s Series “Estimo e Fattibilità del Progetto” for the publishing by ARACNE Editrice. Is Methodological Coordinator for the preparation of the General Plan and Urban Design of the Municipality of Colleferro (Rome). Urban projects for the preparation of the General Municipal Plan and Urban Design of the City of Fara in Sabina (Rieti). Commissioner Acta in Urban Normative and Building licence in Aquila District, for TAR Abruzzo. Presented his book: “Palazzine romane, valutazioni economiche e fattibilità del progetto di conservazione”, the 10th october 2013 at National Accademy of San Luca.
V.A.G.: Rome in three words.
A.P.: A continuous project always becoming, of absolute complexity. With the most important historic centre of the world, where this so called complexity is extended (of the projects). Rome, less beautiful but still not lost; unfortunately, the outskirts areas more and more terrifying and they are the ugly maids of the big capitals of Europe. It will have the will power of rising up, starting from these elements, true resources for the architects of the future.
V.A.G.: Can schizophrenia be defined ad the capability to imagine new realities. As us, as architects, are we schizophrenic by profession. If we could imagine a new reality for Rome, what could it be?
A.P.: Starting from, as i said before, the outskirts. Renzo Piano, as we know, is trying to do “operating experiments” on this theme (but it seems like there are not many results for now). I think that what is needed is to bring into the reality of these areas elements of the historic city that, endemically, are missing today, elements of collectivity such as wide and luminous squares, symbols of quality constructions that “subsides the poor buildings”, starting finally to demolish illegal and unfitting elements, and much more. To start imagining all of this, i think we should ri start taking decisions that – in my opinion – are not being taken, probably an action caused by a unprepared, modest, unfarsighted, political class that also has no culture of the city. Also in this case there would be much more to say.
V.A.G.: Rome was the urbe of forums and domus, the baroque scene for the pope’s architects and, more recently, the composition of a rational regime. What is today’s manifesto for the city?
A.P.: I find essential to know the architecture of the city: this not always happens, and now there always less an attitude to discover with a serious mind the urban issues. The history of architectural aspects of the city should be taught already in middle school…we slowly spiraled down into indifference while Rome deserved much more attention and care. Especially from the architects, that now are all wrapped themselves in a delirious and deleterious “guilty individualism”. A possible manifesto, a slogan (i don’t love at all saying the word slogan, but if this would work to wake up the le consciences, so be it) could be: ROME: MEMORY, SOLIDARITY, QULITY OF LIVE FOR A CIVIL FUTURE.
V.A.G.: The hedonistic enfasi portrayed Rome in works such as “La grande Bellezza” “La dolce Vita” and, going back, “Il piacere” of D’annunzio. But what makes and of what it consists this beauty?
A.P.: In the blue of the sky and in the sweet air, in the color “liquid gold” (definition by Portoghesi) of it’s monuments and of it’s houses, in the spectacular elements of the historical places. And let’s stop crying on ourselves for the big uglyness that we are responsible for! When decisions are not taken, these are the results. The “Grande Bellezza” of Rome is portrayed by Fellini, Flaiano, Pasolini and today by Sorrentino, all non romans…let’s stop these stereotypes such as: Milan is better than Rome; Milan is european; Rome knows perfectly to be an amazing project – as i said before – in a continous transformation. It always has been, from 20 centuries. And, as all the best projects, it needs the right balance and the right decisions. Nothing else is needed.
V.A.G.: During times, the academic scenes where often causes of sperimentations that became for us a valuable asset. Today, for You, the response of the university research is still valid to districate the numerous nodes of the roman reality?
A.P.: It’s essential that the School does it’s part, but not always it’s like this. A while ago (not even that far away in time) the urban analysis was taught, the extraordinary relationship between urban morphology and building typology. I think now we lost track of such research and that current professors consider with indifference and superficiality the achievements reached then. My two great teachers, Manfredo Tafuri and Aldo Rossi, have taught me, the first to not forget the “historical process of the city”, the second one to be albe to intercept the “the urban phenomenons and facts, the exceptional places and spaces of the collectiveness of the city”; thanks to this unsurpassed lesson I characterized my whole life as an architect and professor.
V.A.G.: After these considerations where made, a spontaneous curiosity is born: what are your models? Those models towards which your are pushed with out peace?
A.P.: I have no difficulty in defying myself as post rationalist. Even if i hate labels. Perhaps I should say “a rationalist”. I have always been, because i find that the thrust of that season is not over; actually i am convinced that the positive message of imagining the future as a resource (as a way of seeing the city, and Rome in particular, of Terragni, Pagano, Liber all non romans) is still modern. How can you not agree that it must be an order of priority, of choices that allow you to design the places according to specific rules? The monuments, streets, squares and houses (with their visible or hidden symbols) are the essence of the city: we need to regain the momentum of these urban elements.
V.A.G.: BULLET TO THE HEAD:
Rome as “the eternal city” or as “the global city” ? Global city (only because it already is the eternel one).
Ideal architecture or an idea of architecture? An idea of Architecture (capital A, please).
Cappella Sistina or piazzetta Mattei? Cappella Sistina.
Anarchist creativity or creative anarchy? No doubt, creative anarchy.
Rome by day or Rome by night? Rome by day.
Past perfect or simple future? Simple future.
Bernini o Borromini? By heart, I’d say Borromini, but, in my opinion, “..Bernini has always been understudied…”
Totality or detail? Totality.
Matriciana or cacio e pepe? Matriciana.
Thanks Alfredo Passeri, it was a pleasure! V.A.G.
Author: Rotating Editor Rome