There was a time, perhaps forty years ago and more, when designers in this country followed the Italian architecture scene with great interest. The country was front and center when ideas and styles were communicated principally through magazines Italian like Domus, Casabella, Abitare and Contraspazio. These journals would have articles by Manfredo Tafuri, Bruno Zevi and others, but they also featured images from the country’s fertile design culture.
But it has been decades since Italian architects dominated, let alone were influential, on the international architecture scene. In fact, there are only a few Italian architects known in this country today: Renzo Piano, Massimiliano Fuksas and several Milan–based industrial designers. The work of an older generation of radicals like Superstudio and Archizoom are likely better known by students today than contemporary Italian architects
But Mario Cucinella is an Italian architect who may be about to better-known in this country. The Bologna–based architect (Piano and Fuksas have long had principal offices in Paris) was a student of Giancarlo De Carlo and worked in The Renzo Piano Building workshop from 1987-1992 before starting his own firm. He is now carving out a creative and productive career designing major buildings, including the Kuwait School in Gaza, developed in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. In 2015, Cucinella founded SOS, the School of Sustainability, which intends to build a culture of sustainable design methods and practices in his country.
On Thursday, November 9, at 6:00pm, he will be presenting these projects at Rizzoli Bookstore in Manhattan. I will walk him through his practice, the school, and what it takes to be a successful architect in Italy.