Mario Cucinella, architect and designer, supporter of sustainable architecture, and Fabio Renzi, secretary general of Symbola (Foundation for Italian Quality), took the audience from Design to Zero Impact. A journey into future design, into a new relationship with nature, in which man is not at the centre, rather to its side. A zero impact future that opens a world of opportunities, ethical options and visual interpretations.

In order to deal with this topic, three basic concepts need be tackled first: technology, sustainability, industrialization. In recent decades, the idea of technology has changed. Technology is no longer something “muscular”, that belongs to the 20th century (as was represented by Fritz Lang in his Metropolis). The idea now is more “genetic”: the machine no longer has the main role, which is now taken by matter. By virtue of this, architects can now work more precisely on the relationship between form and matter.

Sustainability in architecture is making buildings in balance with the environment. Which has been the case for millennia. Then, at a certain moment, architects, holders of knowledge, builders of cathedrals and castles, have witnessed a separation in their profession between form (architecture) and matter (engineering). This price of this division has been and still is unsustainable. We now need to recover that ancient and unitary knowledge and re-connect form and matter.

Last but not least industrialization, that was a big dream, though much of that dream had nothing to do with creativity, meaning beauty, energy, social issues. Today that dream (that was not wrong) is no longer appropriate for our time. Our task is to re-think and re-generate cities and buildings, taking into account the human factor.

In this framework, architects and designers are among the few ones who can see the future. Future means sobriety, sustainability, new forms and contents. The issue of energy, for example, can be expressed also through form. And then, why are ecovillages and ecodistricts similar to those of the past?

We need to re-consider architecture as a social business, we need new knowledge. The BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a new 3D design method that amplifies creativity, it is another way of considering design. An architect plays an important role in this respect. He is a dreamer who wants to fulfill a dream, passing often huge obstacles that require knowledge and mediation.

2020 is approaching (according to the 20 20 20 Energy Plan greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 20%, the amount of energy produced from renewable sources should be increased by 20% and energy saving should amount to 20%), the change that is in front of us is paramount: no longer man, but nature at the centre. A change of perspective is needed. Architects and designers have starring roles.

Text by Danilo Signorello – photo by Efrem Raimondi


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Mario Cucinella and Fabio Renzi
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Fabio Renzi
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Mario Cucinella