“There is no ecological, intelligent or sustainable architecture but only good architecture”, said Souto de Moura. Yet protecting the environment is often a corollary and not its essence

* Luca Compri, founder of LCA Architetti

Understanding what architecture is – a subject that is almost never taught at school – is a slow, complex, sometimes even inaccessible path. To do this, it takes commitment, patience and a great ability to dialogue. As architects, in fact, we have the obligation to accompany our clients, and sometimes force them, to discover a world they think they know – construction is there for all to see – but of which they only touch the surface. Why do this? Because the world needs good architecture, not just building. Of an architecture that considers space and light, the relationships between people, the context, and of course the environment: all together, without attention to one of these factors discriminating the others. Because, as Eduardo Souto de Moura said, “there is no ecological, intelligent or sustainable architecture but only good architecture”.

Dialogue with the client is the first step in creating good architecture. Understanding which strings to touch to meet the functional needs of the client but above all to grasp his emotional soul is in fact essential to have him on our side. When the elective affinity has been established, it is time to introduce the proposal of architectural solutions different from those traditionally expected: on the fundamental themes of space, light, context, and necessarily the environment and sustainability more generally. And, if you have managed to work well, the customer awareness process can be more advanced than you expect: it all depends, of course, on who you are in front of.

In the area of sustainability, dialogue has allowed us to build a house, for example, using only recycled and reused materials. The use of ribbed concrete blocks from the disposal of industrial buildings and waste travertine marble slabs has allowed us to create avant-garde architecture from a constructive point of view but classic in forms, with references to the textures of ancient walls and ashlars that served as architrave or cornerstone.

Or to make the customer turn to the use of 100% natural materials for construction. It was in dialogue with the client that we were able to transform what we wanted to be a classic Milanese hinterland residence into a dwelling that uses wood for the primary structure, rice straw as the main insulator and cork as an external insulator. The result is a house that has a very strong bond with the surrounding nature and landscape, primitive in form but experimental in construction technology and articulated in detail. Built with natural materials from renewable sources, self-sufficient from an energy point of view and recyclable in its almost totality.

Can we say that the architect is also a bit of a psychologist? Maybe. Certainly the first, and perhaps most important gift of him, is that of knowing how to understand not only construction techniques and materials but above all people, contexts and landscapes. Today, in the era of the great environmental challenge, more than ever.