Architects seem to have disappeared from the debate on this very controversial but major work: we have collected three authoritative opinions, trying to restore a secular approach to the issue

In the debate around the Bridge on the Strait, there is a protagonist who should distribute the word at the table and instead is the stone guest: architecture.

For some time reduced to a talk show theme, a symbol of the ideological approach to the future, "the longest single-span bridge in the world" seems to be everywhere less than where it should: in the speeches of the most qualified professionals talk, if nothing else, about design and construction issues.

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It's as if at a certain point the main speaker at a conference had decided to disappear without even speaking, taking the slides and microphone with him.

Really, as Giuseppe Inturri, Francesco Martinico and Fausto Carmelo Nigrelli wrote last year on Micromega, "the Bridge over the Strait is not a project, but an emblem"? Or is there still room for a secular discussion, in which architects and architecture take back their place?

A work that is a theme in itself and has lost its meaning

Alfonso Femia, who is involved in the topic in various capacities - as an architect with Calabrian roots, as creator and curator of the Strait Biennial and as a member of the Study Commission on the Strait Bridge which will assist the local council commission in examining the project and a new vision of Villa SanGiovanni - starts precisely from the reflection of Micromega which brought into play the George Simmel of The bridge and the doors.

"In that 1909 text - explains Femia - the German philosopher describes what happens when a work takes on a value that transcends the practical sense to take on an aesthetic one. Clearly Simmel is not referring to our bridge, however his thought can be taken as a possible interpretation of his meta-history. This is precisely the point: the bridge over the Strait of Messina has become a theme in itself, which transcends the meaning of 'union of the separated '".

A colossal work delegated to companies?

Mario Cucinella admits that architects are absent on the Bridge topic, then traces the issue back to the general absence of a debate, promoted by politics, on the role that architecture should have in the future of the country: "It seems to me it is clear that the Ponte affair is yet another chapter in that novel of Italy's lack of love for projects and designers.

We delegated this colossal work to a private company (the general contractor Eurolink participated by the Italian WeBuild, Condotte d'Acqua, Cmc and Consorzio Aci, by the Spanish Sacyr and the Japanese HI, ed.), without even worry about understanding how it will change the lives of the communities that live in the areas around the work.

Messina, Reggio Calabria and the entire area of the Strait should work on urban plans consistent with the project, but on this, far from the lands involved, no one says a word".

From Nervi to Piano, the past pushes us to do

Massimo Roj, architect and CEO of Progetto Cmr, says this about him clearly, without fear of appearing favorable to the work. "I have never loved ideological approaches: I am in favor of doing. And I believe that the Bridge should be built not only because it is necessary, but also because it is the result of a tradition of excellence in Italian design thinking, that of the Morandi and Musmeci, the Nervi and the Piano.

Of course, the contemporary look at the future with its load of dystopias does not help us to look far into the future, but I can't help but wonder why we should consider with distrust the abilities of the companies bidding to build the work, the same ones that carry out projects abroad perhaps even more complex."

Saying no to shouted debate does not mean being agnostic

"The answer to the Bridge" adds Femia "is not a shouted yes or no. Mine is not an agnostic position, I think it is necessary to consider all aspects and sacrifice, precisely because of overcoming the shouting, the least possible number of questions.

If, on the one hand, architecture and engineering have in their DNA the objective of domesticating, reconciling and transforming the natural environment, on the other - particularly architecture - they cannot free themselves from the responsibility of understanding the individual and collective sensitivitiesthat feed them in territorial development processes.

It is, therefore, essential to responsibly evaluate how much the bridge could weigh on a cultural level, if it is more wound and separation than connection.

The path that leads to the Bridge must include as a priority a cultural and social study, it must aim for a good balance, for territorial valorization on a Mediterranean scale, and this is a research that could lead to the awareness of a time already passed."

A missed opportunity to bring order. And go back to talking about competitions

Cucinella seems to have a clearer idea that veers towards no. Or at least his is a no to this Bridge, rather than to the general idea of connecting Scylla and Charybdis: "Even on the most challenging aspect of the work, that of the only span in a territory with very high seismic risk, it was chosen to proceed one way, when instead it was possible to collect more ideas through official channels and compare them in an open manner, building a serious debate around them.

This armored proceeding, which takes everything for granted, is ending up causing us to miss an enormous opportunity: transforming this work into a pretext for raising the bar for design research, bringing order to crucial questions such as the one concerning the role of architecture in a country where, for example, competitions are no longer held. I would like to be optimistic, but unfortunately I can't."