Materiality matters

Umberto Maj supervised the writing of the research thesis "Materiality Matters - riscoperte materiche nell'esperienza contemporanea," which explores the rediscovery of the tactile and emotional significance of materiality in architecture.

In the last fifteen years all around the world. A number of architects, mostly young, started working on projects whose common condition were limited resources. Just like any other physical circumstance, these young designers turned these shortcomings into a creative opportunity and used it as a motivation to come up with new and unpredictable solutions. These projects are the spokesperson for a new mentality, a new approach to design that is ripe for the construction of a new dimension which is renewed in its values. The search for materiality and tactility are at the heart of this new way of doing architecture, which, however, cannot avoid the first principle of the latter, which is the close comparison with the living bodies that inhabit it. In this sense, it becomes essential to solve with skill and imagination the primary need of man, specifically that of building a safe and comfortable home, a house which resembles us, that represents us and that is affordable in costs. n this regard, architecture is configured as a tool at the service of society. Not all solutions are generated by the mind; many of them arise from direct contact between matter and human hands. When architects and craftsmen meet, they develop a unique vocabulary, focused on the material and the shapes it can take. And it is the material itself that suggests the solution. By bringing craftsmanship back into its narrative, not only as a way to preserve knowledge that is destined to disappear, but also as a mean to restore dignity to the regional flavors of each country, it creates a powerful narrative based on material and context. All of these concepts offer a new vision and understanding of a part of contemporary architecture. It is part of the tradition of the art of construction and contemporary reinterpretation, of genuine labor and free re-proposal, but above all of the contextualization of materials and their appropriate use, taking on a completely new meaning. This new way of doing architecture seeks to overcome the flatness of contemporary construction which is also reinforced by a weakened sense of materiality. As buildings lose their plasticity and their connection to the human body, they become a mere element of visual stimulation. With the loss of tactility, the measures and details created for the human body, the architectural structures become flat, immaterial and unreal. The detachment of construction from the reality of matter and craftsmanship further transforms architecture into " scenography" for the eye, devoid of the authenticity of matter and construction.

As soon as man comes into contact with matter and it becomes the object of his attention, it involuntarily becomes material. At the very moment man makes matter his own, a series of intentions are attributed to it. The term material can thus have a dual interpretation: on one hand, it is the result of the transformation of matter through technique, and on the other, through thought. The material becomes the protagonist of a unique vocabulary, where the work of architects and craftsmen is refined into a system rich in meanings.

It is essential to understand the materiality, tactility, and production processes of materials, enabling the architect not only to better utilize traditional materials but also to exploit the possibilities offered by newly conceived materials. The choice of materials, therefore, becomes an expression of a culture, a reference attributed to the values of tradition and representativeness. Materials are cultural communication tools of the project and can have semantic value, as they signal historical-cultural facts related to the architectural object or the environment.

"Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista Intervista."

Rebecca Ajolfi and Emma Josephin Balzarolo

Thesis bibliography:
Adam Caruso, In sintonia con le cose. La base materiale della forma nell'architettura contemporanea (Marinots, 2016)
Adolf Loos, Architektur, 1910
Adolf Lous. Parole nel Vuoto (Adelphi 2014)
Adolf Loos, Von der Sparsamkeit, Deutscher Werkound. 1924
Alessandro Rocca, Architettura low cost/ low tech: invenzioni e strategie di un'avanguardia a bassa risoluzione (Sassi, 2010)
Andrea Deplazes, Constructing Architecture: Materials, Processes, Structures: a Handbook (Walter de Gruyter GmcH, 2018)
Angelo Mangiarotti, In nome dell'architettura (Editoriale Jaca Book, 1987)
Beatrice Lena, Claudia De Giorgi, and Cristina Allione, Design e materiali sensorialtà_sostetenibilità_progetto (Franco Angeli, 2011)
Bovenbouw Architectuur, Living the exotic everyday (Flanders Architecture Institute 2019)
Edwin van Onna, Material World: Innovative Structures and Finishes for Interiors (Springer Science & Business Media, 2003)
Eleonora Fiorani, Leggere i materiali: con l'antropologia, con la semiotica (Lupetti, 2000)
Fernando Espuelas, Madre Materia (Marinotti, 2012)
Frampton Kenneth, Storia dell'architettura moderna (Zanichelli, 2008)
Gail Peter Borden e Michael Meredith, Matter: Material Processes in Architectural Production (Routledge, 2012)
Germano Celant, Arte Povera. Appunti per una guerriglia (Flash Art, 1967)
Gio Ponti, Amate l'architettura (Rizzoli, 2008)
Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the senses (Wiley, 1996)
Kent C. Bloomer, Corpo, memoria, architet-tura: introduzione alla progettazione archi-tettonica (Sansoni, 1981)
Labarta Aizpún Carlos and Herreras Pérez Javier, 4 relatos de intimidad doméstica (Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza, 2018)
Louis I. Kahn, Maria Bonaiti, Architettura è Louis I. Kahn, gli scritti (Electa, 2002)
Maarten Van Den Driessche, Bart Verschaffel, Bovenbouw Architectuur: Living the Exotic Everyday (Flanders Architecture Institute, 2019)
Marco Ferrari, Architettura e materia. Realtà della forma costruita nell'epoca dell'immateriale (Quodlibet, 2013)
Mario Botta, Quasi un diario: frammenti intorno all'architettura (Le lettere, 2003)
Maurizio Gargano, Forma e materia: ratiocinatio e fabrica nell'architettura dell'eta moderna (Officina edizioni, 2006)
Peter Zumthor, Atmosfere. Ambienti architettonici. Le cose che ci circondando (Mondadori Electa, 2008)
Peter Zumthor, Pensare architettura (Electa, 2003)
Rem Koolhaas, Elements of Architecture (Taschen, 2018)
Tibor Joanelly, fala 2G 80 - Do Not Copy (Koening Books, 2019)
Toshiko Mori, Immateriale/Ultramateriale. Architettura, progetto e materiali (Postmedia 2004)