Triennale III - A Vision of Europe

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BOLOGNA, 9th MARCH 2000.
I am sorry not to be able to be with you in person at this, the third exhibition and conference organised by “A Vision of Europe”  –  and the first of a new century. I remember with pleasure my earlier visits to Bologna, in 1992 and 1996, when I was able to meet, and to see the work of, so many people who think about building as I do. So I was determined to be with you in some fashion this year also, and I trust you will forgive the fact that I can only be with you on video.
“A Vision of Europe” began at the same time as I set out my own thoughts about architecture and urbanism in “A Vision of Britain”, and in the eight years since it was founded a remarkable amount has been achieved. “A Vision of Europe” now regularly brings together, at gatherings like this one, like-minded people from all over the world. It is encouraging to know that there are now some hundreds of architects and town planners around the world seeking to recover and reapply the principles which guided the creation of traditional environments. Of course, these are still small numbers compared with the many thousands for whom the past remains at worst an irrelevancy, or at best the source for a “pick-and-mix” approach to design, but the more that can be built – the more concrete alternatives you can offer – the more influential these few will become.
On another level, “A Vision of Europe” has also shown itself to be effective at spreading the word, with a version of the exhibition I opened in 1996 having been continually on the road since then, travelling to Norway, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. And there are even higher ambitions for this current exhibition, which it is hoped, after making a start in Berlin, will go through Central Europe, beginning with Prague. And then there is the new, and growing, website, which has the potential of making information about traditional environments, and about the professionals able to deliver such environments, accessible to many millions of people.
At present I am bringing together various of my organisations concerned with the built environment in a new Foundation, which is about to open in a converted warehouse in the East end of London. My new Foundation will, I hope, learn a great deal from what you are doing.
It was just a century ago that a great English Man of Letters died, a man who did an enormous amount to foster understanding between England and Italy, and for whom I have always had the most profound admiration. The man in question was the art and social critic John Ruskin, and it seems appropriate to mention him here because he once argued that Italy had a unique role to play in modern Europe – in his view it had to be the guardian of thememory of this great continent. When industrialisation and commercialism had done their worst, he believed, weary souls – who by then would only half-remember the great things of which their culture was capable - would return to Italy with gladness, to rediscover all they had lost.  I think he recognised a truth, and he would certainly rejoice to see so many of you coming to Bologna to remember what the city is, after a century of its dismemberment.
Bologna itself is, of course, an object lesson in what a city should be, and not only because of its impressive medieval and renaissance fabric. It is the epitome of the city as a collective work of art in which, seemingly miraculously to our eyes, manifold building projects of all shapes and sizes, initiated over long periods of time, by all classes of people, under the most rudimentary of building codes, produced something living, a distinct organism, the wholeness of which is readily apparent to us, as well as the beauty of its separate parts. The beginning of the last millennium was marked by a wave of such collective works of art – not only the city, but also the cathedral that stood at its heart.
I would say above all to the members of “A Vision of Europe”, “keep alert to what people are saying to you”. I wouldn’t like to think that your passion for the traditional will ossify, and lead to a fixation on form at the expense of those manifold processes which go on at a grassroots level, and which make and remake cities day after day. We should have the utmost respect for these, and work with them as far as we are able. I believe that tradition is not something that belongs to the past, but rather something that should be continually renewed.
What “A Vision of Europe” has managed to put on the walls of its exhibition shows clearly that there is another way, and that that way is a viable one, one which is being practiced in increasing quantities. It is evidently possible to construct new cities which are founded on timeless principles of harmony and beauty. I am happy that I have been able to play some part myself in bringing about this state of affairs, I look forward to doing more to sustain it, and I am pleased to be able to send my good wishes for a project, like “A Vision of Europe”, which is doing so much to offer an alternative view of the future.
Thank you.

The Other Modern: The Traditional City and its Architecture in the Twentieth Century, is an exhibition and conference that will examine 20th century traditional urbanism and architecture from two directions: one looking back, from an historical perspective and the other, looking forward, drawing lessons from the past for a vision of the new millennium. The exhibition will revisit the history of architecture of the Twentieth Century by highlighting the Modern traditional city and its architecture from 1900 to 1999. Until recently, architectural historians have equated ‘modern’ with the modernist movement. Yet Twentieth Century modern architecture and urbanism have not been exclusively modernist. By definition, the term ‘modern’ sits in contradistinction to modernism. The former refers to current times whereas the latter identifies a specific historical ideology.

Despite the modernist representation of history as a continual, inevitable progression away from tradition, modern cities, neighborhoods and buildings were built throughout the Twentieth Century that adapted the tradition of classical and vernacular architecture to the current conditions of life and society.

In fact, the regional and national values of The Other Modern have been powerful forces of architectural and urban progress, and they have gained a renewed and emotional presence in the closing years before the millennium. The yearning for such buildings and places has increased as the integrity of the traditional urban environments has been eroded and destroyed. Throughout the world, cultures have continued to design, build and reconstruct cities and buildings governed with notions of permanence and continuity as a way of establishing meaning for themselves and future generations.

The traditional city is manifested through time tested principles of construction, building typologies, and urban organizations, nature providing the reference point that ties the myriad of cultures to the human condition.

The diversity of traditional and vernacular architectural expressions create a dialogue between the idea of the universal and the specific building traditions of a region. The Other Modern exhibition will consist of original drawings and photographs of buildings and urban interventions selected in archives and museums around the world. In addition, new models and drawings, including by computers, will be constructed in various university schools of architecture. With this mix of material the curators intend to create an exhibition that appeals to a large public, including high schools’ students, developers, public officials, etc. The exhibition includes projects and built works by Gunnar Asplund (Sweden), Lina Bo Bardi (Brasil), Dom Bellot (France-Canada), David Brutzkus (Israel), Alexeï Chtchoussev (Russia), Michel De Klerk (Holland), Hassan Fathy (Egypt), Raymond Hood (USA), Leon & Rob Krier (Luxemburg), Edwin Lutyens (England), Luis Moya (Spain), Ragnar Ostberg (Sweden), Auguste Perret (France), Marcello Piacentini (Italy), Dimitris Pikionis (Greece), Josef Plecnik (Czech Republic), Richard Riemerschmid (Germany), Eriel Saarinen (Finland), François Spoerry (France), Robert Stern (USA), Heinrich Tessenow (Germany), and dozens of others. Moreover the exhibition will examine important contributions such as the garden cities, the university campuses, the regionalist and vernacular movements (the Neo-Mediterranean Style, etc. ), and the reconstruction of the cities devastated during the first and second World Wars.


The Italian and English versions of the catalogue will contain 520 pages and more than 800 illustrations in black & white and colors. The first section consists of historical and theoretical essays; the second presents and analyzes the development of The Other Modern chronogically and typologically throughout the Twentieth Century. The final section deals with Visions for the New Millenium.
Authors include Matthew Bell, Maurice Culot, Victor Deupi, Léon Krier, Denis Hector, Jorge Hernandez, Jean-François Lejeune, Michael Lykoudis, Catherine Lynn, Caroline Mierop, Demetri Porphyrios, Vincent Scully, Gabriele Tagliaventi, David Watkin, Carroll William Westfall, etc.


The Other Modern will be the centerpiece of the third edition of the International Triennale of Architecture and Urbanism of Bologna in 2000. It follows the first two editions organized in 1992-3 and 1995-6 by A Vision of Europe and the events set up in Alexandria and Chicago by the Classical Architecture League. Created in 1992 by a group of architects, engineers, architectural historians directed by Ivo Tagliaventi, the not-for-profit association promotes the preservation of historic cities and neighborhoods as well as the transformation and development of suburban and periurban areas into new traditional neighborhoods based upon a structure of streets, blocks, and squares. Supported by the EEC Commission and with the collaboration of important European and American private and public institutions, both Triennales culminated in an exhibition inaugurated by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales and held at the Centro San Giorgio in Poggiale in the core of Bologna, and at other venues in Brussels, Istanbul (United Nations Conference Habitat II), Oslo, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Lisbon. The Third Triennale is jointly organized by The New Architecture Group, a network of European and American institutions with extensive experience in the organization of architectural events. The exhibition will open in Bologna in the spring, and at the end of the year in Oslo and San Sebastian before going to Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York. It is expected that after 2000 the exhibition will travel to other locations around the world.


Michael Lykoudis, University of Notre Dame:   tel: 001-219-631 6168    fax: 001-219-631 8486

Gabriele Tagliaventi, University of Ferrara, Italy:   tel: 39-051-233 717    fax: 39-051-222 329
Introduction to

 Bologna, March 10th, 2000

Brian Hanson is an internet startup, intended to put the world wide web to more constructive use than has so far been the case.

I have long combined a concern for traditional urbanism with an interest in community participation processes – and have been a little disappointed by the shortcomings and scope for manipulation evident in most of the participation techniques currently available.

“Pattern Language” refers, of course, to the work of Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley, whose Center for Environmental Structure (CES) was founded in 1967. For over 30 years they have sought to define and apply patterns and sequences by which the qualities of traditional environments can be retrieved. The book, A Pattern Language, of 1978, contained 253 patterns. These have been applied in 200 projects in 20 countries, from the scale of furniture to that of the city, and have been the subject of a number of influential books.

I have myself tried to combine a Pattern Language approach with more conventional approaches to traditional urbanism in various Prince of Wales’s Urban Design Task Forces – for example in Lebanon in 1997.

Initially will be of interest to self-builders, to those wanting to participate in planning decisions, and for communities looking to have a more constructive engagement with their environment. It will deliver powerful TOOLS into the hands of such people.

Even those who are aware of the influence that Pattern Language theory has had on architecture and planning may not know the profound impression it had made on a large number of software designers over the past decade. The theory, and the insights it gives, are recognised and respected by very senior figures in the industry, and it is estimated that about 300,000 software designers now use it as a tool.

We think, therefore, that represents one of the best “fits” between content and medium of any web-based architecture/building operation. Indeed, many others do little more than use the web as a glorified noticeboard.

Pattern Language, and the sequences which control the application of the language, have long been regarded by their promoters as a kind of “genetic code” for good environments, by which order can be created out of more-or-less spontaneous actions. The new delivery mechanism offered by the internet makes this metaphor far more powerful.

At the “Vision of Europe” conference I have heard a number of encouraging things: Jean-François Lejeune, of the University of Miami, spoke of how people’s sense of the value of “everyday” architecture led them, in the 1960’s, to challenge modernist orthodoxy; Audun Engh, of the Norwegian Foundation for Urban Renewal, urged us to exploit the market, and democratic processes, to further the cause of good cities; and HRH The Prince of Wales warned us in his opening message not to become formalists, but to pay attention to “those manifold processes which go on at a grassroots level, and which make and remake cities day after day”, despite us. will offer support to these very processes, and give people access once again to the tools by which they can fashion their “everyday” world.

The current website is well worth a visit, but it is at an early stage, and is not yet representative of the full scope of the enterprise. Research & Development is proceeding, and trials will follow in the US and UK, with individuals and communities. A demo will soon be on-line, setting out the sequence for the creation of a traditional Japanese tea house.

Further down the line there will be a builders’ network – already taking shape – so that those who utilise this new way of designing can find sympathetic tradespeople able to build to their designs, and software to give users a rough sketching tool, and then translate their sketches into working drawings.

Keep tuning in, because I think that the future of this project will be exciting.
A Political Gathering

Bologna, March 9, 2000

Michael Lykoudis

This is a political gathering. It is not about whether we are Republicans or Democrats, Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, or even who has the best form of government. But it is about having a say about how we will build and live together in the twenty first century.

Around the world for the last several millennia, people were born into families that were supported by neighborhoods that were in turn supported villages towns and cities. Children grew up with a political awareness about their existence and were able to contribute and participate in the social life of their homes, streets, neighborhoods and towns. In the city, they learned about balancing their private and public lives. They relied on their elders, shopkeepers, friends and relatives in a continuous unbroken web. The physical fabric of the city facilitated this existence. In this world, the dialectic of rights and duties was understood. In this place, a commitment to its future came easily

Increasingly in our communities around the globe there is no place for children to play, teenagers to meet, adults or older people to gather and watch over the young. The technological society has destroyed the proximities between the functions of daily life that allowed a pedestrian accessibility and allowed participation of citizens in the public realm. Real political choices have been taken away as only one model of how we conduct our lives becomes more and more pervasive. The only real choice that we are being left with in this new brave new privatized world is that of the consumer. The balance of rights and duties, of a life public and private is replaced by a single linear relationship between consumer and market in a quest for a global monoculture. The profound sense of loss of community and stewardship over our destiny from the local to the global scale is at the root for the reasons that bring us together here.

This conference is a political gathering. Our presence here is a statement that asserts our claim that we can have a world with a global understanding of the fragility of the environment we share, yet still maintain the local and regional identities that allows us to maintain a sense of control over our daily lives. The potential environmental catastrophe that is now in the making is a reminder that all humanity has shared interests and that our planet has limits in terms of the amount of abuse that we can deliver to it. Through its pedestrian proximities, optimum density, scale, and durable physical fabric, the traditional city and its architecture maintain the balance of the complex forces that act on the environment, as we inhabit our planet. The traditional city and its architecture are the physical embodiment of the environmental slogan: Think globally, act locally.

Our presence here is a statement that asserts our claim that meaning is found within the complex political relationships in balance between the private and public realms and not in the private world of the hunter-gatherer of techno-consumer goods. Our presence here is a statement that we believe technology to be a means to virtuous ends not a replacement of virtuous ends by means.

The work that we have around us this afternoon is proof that a better solution to the one that is being promoted by the modernist techno-consumer establishment is possible. The idea that the classical and traditional are indeed forms that can innately facilitate just political ends and environmental responsibility, has at the end of this century and beginning of the next, resurfaced. To quote Demetri Porphyrios: Classicism is not a doctrine; it is philosophy of life. It is the philosophy of free will nurtured by tradition.

Ten years ago this work was dismissed by the architectural establishment. Now it is designed and built by an increasing number of architects buildings and developers who understand that democracy, free commerce and civil culture are not only compatible but interdependent. In the late twentieth century tradition and the classical have made a triumphant return. It is up to us and our increasing numbers to ensure its democratic future.
Remarks on the opening of "The Other Modern"

Bologna March 9, 2000

James Howard Kunstler

I spent a lot of time last autumn in what we call the Sunbelt of America Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, Florida. This was necessarily a very depressing project, because what we have achieved in American urbanism is what I like to call the National Automobile Slum. It’s all the same and it’s all terrible. The parking lots of Beverly Hills are not any more spiritually rewarding than the parking lots of the South Bronx. All Sunbelt cities in America look exactly the same 
-- like UFO landing strips -- and all of them are leached of the last drop of urban amenity. All the Prozac in the
world will not avail to correct the situation -- and that is our particular national tragedy.
To accessorize the National automobile slum we have invented an
architecture of occult mysticism, based on the competitive contrivance of new metaphysics, the more incomprehensible the better. And these two cultural developments compliment each other. In both instances the losers are the people who have to live in America. The sad truth of the matter is that the United States is increasingly composed of thousands of places that are not worth caring about. The ultimate result will be a nation and a way of life
that is not worth caring about or defending.
We have accomplished something really remarkable in America. We have perfected an individual trasportation system that can now take us with perfect comfort and ease to places that are not worth going to and certainly not worth living in.
This is the salient characteristic of the American town and city today. They are places with no sense of a future. What is the destiny of the K-marts and Burger Kings of Dallas? I ask myself this question often. It may lead to yet another branch of metaphysics.
We cannot blame places like Dallas, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona, for having no past. This is self-evident. What is not so self-evident is that they should have been busy creating a past for themselves in the short time they have existed. But they will have none. American culture as currently constituted will not support the idea of future connected to the past through the medium of a hopeful present.
This is what I think lies at the heart of the classical tradition it is not a collection of motifs, not a menu of styles. It is an attitude toward the project of civilization, which is based on the idea that we are poised between memory and hope; that we have come from someplace memorable and are bound for someplace hopeful, and that the present time we occupy ought to be endowed with grace.
I, for one, am deeply grateful that the 20th Century is over. The world now has an excuse -- if one is needed -- to get on with the task of being human. Modern-ism -- the notion that a particular time is exempted from history -- is now itself an historical idea and, ironically, subject now to the terrible judgement of history. As I wrote in one of my own books, ridicule is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous.
We need an everyday world that is worthy of our affection, that is worthy of our aspirations, that is worthy of what is best in the human spirit, not what is worst, most antisocial, most paranoid, most destructive.
I congratulate you for choosing your heroic pathway in a difficult profession, and I hope you have a very successful meeting in this beautiful city.


Aula absidale Santa Lucia - via Castiglione 26 /

The International Conference is particularly dedicated to:

* Architects and Engineers Scholars, Architectural and Town Planning Historians

* School of Architecture's Faculty and Students Developers, Entrepreneurs, and General Contractors Public administrators and real estate promoters

* Economists and sociologists

The Conference will be articulated in 4 main sessions with debates and panel discussions.


A serene and critical assessment on either what has been designed or built, and all what has not been done. The experiences, the initiatives, the competitions, out of both the official history and academy .The possible methods, legislation acts, and regulations for the future of the building activities.


The cultural and professional education of the TECHNICAL CONSULTANT; as architect or engineer. The new areas in the design and construction fields. From the 19th century Schools to the3rd Millennium ones: academy curricula, teaching methods, professional standards. Laws and regulations for the profession around the world, individual and associate practices. The intellectual work.


Relations of vital continuity of the urban space: the contemporary city and the city of tomorrow for the HUMAN BEING and the CIVIL SOCIETY. Recent experiences of urban re-qualification in Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Alexandria, Berlin. The new towns in the United States and Canada. Projects and strategies for the construction of the new architecture of the city.


Functions, characteristics, and uses of the construction materials between tradition and innovations. Consolidation, transformation and evolution of the construction techniques related to the use of traditional and new materials. What kind of rationalization in the building process for the city of tomorrow? Roles, intervention options, and responsibilities of the developers.
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