The Manifattura Tabacchi of Florence presents the retrospective dedicated to Pier Luigi Nervi – one of the 20th century’s most significant architectural engineers –, enriched by an ‘intergenerational spin-off’: Cinema Nervi, a video art project that returns a a contemporary digital vision of Nervi’s architecture

Pier Luigi Nervi. Architecture as a Challenge - Pier Luigi Nervi and Florence, the Structure of Beauty

Manifattura Tabacchi, Florence (Italy), from 25 January 2021

Free admission with restricted access in compliance with the anti Covi-19 measures

Arriving in Florence the retrospective Pier Luigi Nervi. Architecture as a Challenge, dedicated to one of the 20 th century’s most significant architectural engineers, both in Italy and throughout the world. There are 12 sections to the exhibition, each one focusing on an iconic work from the creativity of the Pier Luigi Nervi, in addition to the model of Manifattura Tabacchi which hosts the exhibition. Every section represents an aspect of his genius as an architectural engineer and all bear witness to this essence today, the beauty of the forms and the brilliant implementation of the structural economy of materials.

Contemporary and experimental contribution to Pier Luigi Nervi and Florence, the Structure of Beauty, Cinema Nervi is a videoart project: five original works created by Lucia Tahan, Clube, Alessio Grancini, The Pleasure Paradox and Anabel Garcia-Kurland present a contemporary digital vision of Nervi’s architecture.

Pier Luigi Nervi. Architecture as a Challenge exhibition is a project of the Pier Luigi Nervi Research and Knowledge Management Project (Brussels) and Laboratorio Nervi Polytechnic of Milan (Lecco), co-produced by Manifattura Tabacchi, in partnership with the Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the metropolitan city of Florence and the provinces of Pistoia and Prato.

Watch here the photographic reportage by Matteo Cirenei and Marco Menghi

The constant research carried out by Nervi during his long career, in order to achieve artistic values in architecture and engineering equal to those of other arts, is evident from the models and documentation presented in the Florentine stage entitled Pier Luigi Nervi and Florence, the Structure of Beauty.

The exhibition explores, among other works, the Berta municipal stadium, today Artemio Franchi, built in Florence in 1932 and now at the center of a heated debate regarding its renovation.

Watch here the photo report of the Flaminio stadium in Rome

The exhibition itinerary includes the transformation project of the Manifattura Tabacchi, built between 1933 and 1940 on a project by the Monopoly technicians, which presents architectural lines and structures of modernity and elegance that have led to hypothesize the hand of Nervi. The recovery in progress is addressed in material and figural respect for the property, in assiduous collaboration with the Superintendency, and addresses the known conceptual and methodological difficulties inherent in the conservation of modern architecture.

The complex will be recovered according to a masterplan made up of successive contributions from the design studios Concrete, SANAA, Studio Mumbai and q-bic, which aims to preserve the industrial spirit of historic architecture with contemporary interventions capable of enhancing the monumentality of the buildings and the quality of the spaces and materials. Particular attention is paid to the landscape design, entrusted to Antonio Perazzi. In the project, the green is intended as a regeneration device that reclaims the space in the former cigar factory to create welcoming, comfortable common areas that are conducive to aggregation.

The ambitious redevelopment project, launched in 2016, aims to create a new district for the city and a center for contemporary culture, art and fashion that is complementary to the historic center, open to all and connected with world.

“We have welcomed with great pleasure the invitation of the Superintendent and the heirs to contribute to the dissemination of Pier Luigi Nervi's work by hosting the exhibition in our temporary spaces” explain Michelangelo Giombini, Product Development Manager of Manifattura Tabacchi. “Manifattura Tabacchi is itself heir to the experience of this brilliant designer and entrepreneur and presents many typical traits of his work in the elegance of the structures and lines. As usual, we wanted to intervene with an original contribution that compares with the work of Nervi, to add a contemporary counterpoint to the body of the exhibition and propose an unprecedented opportunity for suggestion and deepening, between past and present”.

Models, copies of the original drawings, an extensive photographic set of construction site images and current affairs photos illustrate, chapter after chapter, the entire creative path of Nervi and guide visitors to explore the main areas of his activity: from Cinema-Theater Augustus of Naples, one of the works most dear to him, at the Unesco headquarters in Paris from the Vatican Hall of the pontifical audiences in the Vatican to the Tower of the Montreal Stock Exchange until the last project, the Italian Embassy in Brasilia, conceived by Nervi and his son Antonio in 1969.

With an unprecedented project curated by the Parasite 2.0 collective and produced by NAM – Not A Museum, the Manifattura Tabacchi contemporary art program, the exhibition also pays tribute to the master in a contemporary, experimental and interdisciplinary key through digital languages. For the occasion, five studios of international architects, designers and artists were involved.

Cinema Nervi can be considered an ‘intergenerational spin-off’ of Pier Luigi Nervi and Florence, the Structure of Beauty.

Taking inspiration from one of the works most dear to the master, the Augusteo Cinema-Theater in Naples, Lucia Tahan (Berlin), Clube (San Paolo), Alessio Grancini (Los Angeles), The Pleasure Paradox (Milan, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Rotterdam) and Anabel Garcia-Kurland (London) were asked to reinterpret five of the architectures on display  the Palazzo del Lavoro in Turin, the Italian Embassy in Brasilia, Manifattura Tabacchi and the Giovanni Berta stadium (now Artemio Franchi) in Florence and the Unesco headquarters in Paris  through an unusual tool for designing in the Nervi period: video.

The Cinema Nervi project is conceived, on the one hand as a digital architecture that transmits the video contributions online (streaming on the IGTV di NAM - Not a Museum and on the Manifattura Tabacchi YouTube channel), on the other as a physical device, visitable inside the exhibition after you can watch the videos.

Each video work will be unveiled online every Tuesday at 11.00, until February 16. The first, Lucia Tahan - Palazzo del Lavoro, Turin, can be seen here.