A Stone on the Ground: Ecological and Architectural Measures of Vittorio Gregotti’s "The Territory of Architecture"

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Abstract / Description of output

“A simple exterior,” Vittorio Gregotti suggests, “appear[s] as a measure of the larger environment’s complexity.” “A material,” he continues, “is not actually a thing of nature, it is more earthly and more abstract, alluding to the form of the place.” “Architecture,” he concludes, “functions as a way of gauging the landscape.” These reflections – on place, landscape, environment, and nature – made 10 years after the publication of Il Territorio dell’Architettura in 1966, describe a position on architecture and landscape that is consistent throughout Gregotti’s practice. Underlying this position is a particular view of landscape, one in which – in a direct challenge to Rykwert’s Adam’s House in Paradise – the origin of architectural practice lies in a negotiation between an experiencing body and the unknowable expanse of the world. “Before a support was transformed into a column,” Gregotti suggests, “man put stone on the ground in order to recognize place in the midst of the unknown universe.” The placement of this stone, the precursor to the siting of a building, modified place to the extent that it could be reconciled with human consciousness – “the project transforms place into settlement.”

Despite never being translated into English, Gregotti’s early theories in Il Territorio dell’Architettura and the work that has arisen as a result of these theories, continues to be the subject of international, critical attention. In 2009, OASE journal published an issue titled “On Territory,” which was prefaced with a partial translation of Gregotti’s text. A retrospective exhibition in Milan in late 2017 (at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporane), and subsequently Lisbon in late 2018 (at the Centro Cultur- al de Belém, designed by Gregotti and Associati) used "Il Territorio dell’Architettura" as a titular frame for Gregotti’s work. In this paper, I will discuss how Gregotti’s description of a “stone on the ground” – or, taking a cue for Tullio Pagano, a “pagus in paesaggio”– might enable a critical reflection on Gregotti’s architectural territoriality. By exploring Gregotti’s use of the term measure – “misura” – and Franco Cassano’s term moderation, I will ask to what extent Gregotti’s reconceptualization of the environment as a “material for architecture” might in fact be considered a radical re-territorialization of architecture in, and as a materialization of, landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Jan 2020
EventItalian Imprints: Influences and Issues in Architectural Culture in the Long Twentieth Century - Penn State University, , State College, United States
Duration: 16 Jan 202018 Jan 2020


ConferenceItalian Imprints
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityState College
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