Interview of architect Giovanni Lucentini

Giovanni Lucentini is an architect from Palermo in Sicily, Italy, associate of the firm Lg=mC (Giovanni Lucentini & Marcello Calà). We discovered the firm in October 2012 and wrote an article about it, right here: Presentation of the firm Lg=mC

We do believe that the architect Giovanni Lucentini has a great talent, and it is easily visible in the progresses the firm Lg=mC is doing. We are very glad he accepted to dedicate some fo his time to respond our questions. Dear readers, good lecture!


ArchiTexts Association: Your work is special, different, original; it could be described as pop. In the shapes, the colors, the materials, there is something of Aldo Rossi, also comparing your floating houses and il teatro del mondo. Is the work of Aldo Rossi inspiring you? Where do you think a young architect can find inspiration?

Giovanni Lucentini: “I must say that being inspired by Aldo Rossi told me many years ago one of his most famous pupils. In fact it is true I am from a generation that was born from the culture of postmodernism and pop, I had references that ranged from Hans Hollein to Sottsass and even Rossi. In fact, the work on the simplicity of architecture, on what is direct and immediate to be transmitted in this is very meaningful European popular culture, including Aldo Rossi was an example. The theater of the world was part of that culture so highly communicative with a high social message such as the design of the Modena cemetery.

Many, not all thankfully, contemporary Italian architecture is falsely snob, against a ridiculous stance towards the superstars and almost the whole is taken to copy those models with less capacity, presenting the architecture that produces such original elaboration of superior minds.

The contemporary Italian architecture is not original as it always was until the eighties of the last century, but it is very repetitive, some few examples are different. Italian architecture follows the current at this time to fight the political culture of 70-80 years, he trains to demolish models like Rossi or Sottsass. He moves like a wave, one day appreciates a day demolishes this or that architect. There is actually a good architecture in Sicily, which is expressed for example in the work of Aion, Maria Grasso Cannizzo on some works by Vincenzo Latina, by Marco Navarra and a few others, but did not, thinking that there is a significant number of studies, large amount of innovative architects. There are a number of interesting architects who remain marginalized, who do not work, be original in Italy is no longer a way to succeed, there is no one who invents Memphis or transavanguardia or pop or discovers Carlo Scarpa and I could go for pages and pages.

It seems that lately architects such as Renzo Piano, who does not work in the University, and a few others are trying, with his prize to fill a void of years, but I think it will take a long time to lift the Italian cultural system.


Giovanni Lucentini ‘s pop architecture

The second part of the question is who should inspire young architects of today, I think it probably should be omnivores look at the world as the American colonists have examined the prairie, without a clear idea of the target. They must try to understand that there is not a model superstar as they want try to make him believe in Italian universities where architecture successful world is represented as a  inhuman factory of gadgets, packaged for tourists looking for a bit of architecture porn. But there is a different world, a myriad of sensations that produce different human beings and that the world of architecture expresses. They should start looking at countries like India where the architecture expresses an idea, an evolution, a different life, even look at the countries that have traditionally been of great artistic interest such as Japan, without thinking that he understood all at once because of an idiot professor who has already presented the world as a without a soul place from which to escape only because he was expelled by global competition as incompetent.

Then they have to think about building an identity, what I can see in young people is the approval of the conduct of those who have a leadership role so you will be able to stay in unstable equilibrium and survive. This is one of the worst legacy of Berlusconi. It’s very sad that there is no effective rebellion among young people, who are the most affected by this system, rather than trying to get into the mechanism.”


AA: Your office is only 7 m² big, but it has a great success. Do you think this tiny space is influencing your work?

GL: “I hope to have a little success. I actually love the small size of the craft, I try to coordinate the work with the international studies or with famous artists, creating an almost controlled disorganization. I do not know how to work in a larger space would lose control of the silence that allows me to survive and make my thing.”


AA: You won the first prize for the monument to victims of the Mafia, in Pizzolungo, Sicily. Could you describe this design? To what extent does the politics enter in your work and in your life?

GL: “This project is the story of a lost memory of a tragedy that had lost the physical memory of which had been a faded memory, a sculpture abandoned in a promontory that fell into the sea with the waves.


The Pizzolungo slaughter

We designed a strong image of that tragedy, the idea was that the marks of the wounds of the explosion and the remains were found suddenly after many years. Everything had been absorbed by the landscape and the remains of the metal seemed at first glance like pieces of red rock embedded in the ground, but the difference in height between the road and the sea has allowed us to see the 3 cuts into the ground (such as the number of victims initial) as huge gashes only from a point of view. The discovery of the signs of the explosion, after a long period of time, has allowed us to rediscover a moment in history that has become a new memory at the time of discovery. It was a way to rediscover what has been the effect of a tragic event, like looking in a mirror, a way to realize that the company is no longer able to feel the emotions and compassion, but he wants a party in costume, to appear compassionate and better than it really is. The wounds have become a normal sign in the landscape, the sense of the metamorphosis of a fallen society as is the Italian nation.


Design of Lg=mC

The project will signify that our will is immune from the changes that ethics and history requires and makes us complicit. The fact that the earth has absorbed and normalized wounds as we have normalized our lives in relation to the desire to be part of the system that has evolved and it also takes an accomplice of the bourgeois mafia that seeks to deny its existence. But the wounds are visible from a point of view and we have to look for this point of view in our work and in our lives.


Design of Lg=mC

This was not very welcome, because he did not want to say that we’re the good guys and the bad guys are others, such as the ridiculous rhetoric of some mafia, mafia that Sciascia called “professionisti dell’antimafia“, but just wanted to put in front of people to their memory.

The fact that we have not realized the project means that nobody gives a big  importance to it. What has been achieved is a small garden, with some tombstones around the flower beds – a stupid image – and the administration is somewhat more reassuring as horrible and devoid of pathos, wants to do in Italian society, where it has become normal for a mayor (it happened) to ask for protection to the mafia.

Immagine parco come è diventato!

The park today

In fact, the project was also the representation of the Sicilian landscape and it is what it says Tommasi di Lampedusa on the necessity of perfection of the Sicilians that you do not ever bring in crisis because they have a deep sense of their perfection. In this land, no one takes any responsibility for the social disaster that has produced, but everything is absorbed by the beauty of the landscape.

In fact this project as my other is a representation of life in key policy clearly pop.”


AA: There are over 150.000 architects in Italy, around 5 each 2000 inhabitants, representing 27% of the amount of european architects. Furthermore, the economical conditions, the crisis, new laws and so on are having an impact on the profession. How do you imagine the future of the architects?

GL: “I have the image of a tragedy where an individualistic society like the Italian one, built the patterns of self-defense of the ruling class, is no longer able to return to growth. The crisis was not shared equally in the Italian territory and in the face of the regions of the north, who have reacted better, the southern regions came to lose tips of 13-14% of GDP, the reaction was that the power has defended if same abandoning the citizens to their fate.

I think that the basis of preparation of the universities, especially in southern Italy than in northern Italy, is scarce and mostly self-referential this prevents to grow well a new generation, the majority of young architect I see published  are recommended by some powerful, they hardly are interested to confront with the world rather seek confrontation with the professor that opens the way to some publication, a couple of exhibits, for a minor prize. Who does not enter the game and have a talent, or leave the University without graduating because it was considered abnormal, or however you graduate and tries his luck abroad. Abroad for one that succeeds there are 20-30 that they fail and for the most part return to Italy or seek to make another, and in the other there is everything including what many journalistic investigations reveal. It would be enough to make most normal labor system in Italy, by enforcing the law, the results of competitions etc.. allowing everyone to meet and achieve their goals but the power system does not have this interest.

For years, politicians from different backgrounds (the bourgeois left in his metamorphosis was almost more guilty of the political italian right) and organic men in power have convinced them of the success of their being Italian and the fact that in that Italians were superior culturally and intellettual, have justified the inability to make normal Italy, are now a mass of misfits who have from 25 to 40 years (sometimes more) and men of power tell speak “resolve, we will” talk about the future do not realize that for the most of these citizens their future has already passed.

It all happened because Italians are more likely to believe to find easy routes to success, that build a chance of life with their forces. This has not prevented at the italian people over the years to build a great country, but today leveraging the weaknesses inherent in the Italian people, the power has built a worse country. Here I believe that the huge mass of Italian architects if you could had a chance to go ahead could select a part capable of doing great things.”

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Giovanni Lucentini

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Credit image:
Il teatro del mondo:
The Pizzolungo slaughter:

Marcello Calà


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