c30 editorial - lighting the future

C30 Editorial - Lighting the future

It is well known that architecture has a close relationship with light. It is not necessary, in fact, to recall Le Corbusier's famous definition of architecture as «jeu savant, correct et magnifique des volumes assemblés sous la lumière » to confirm this statement, clear to anyone who approaches it. However, it is surprising to see that there is still a long way to go for light research to fully enter into the field of architectural design.

 

It is well known that architecture has a close relationship with light. It is not necessary, in fact, to recall Le Corbusier's famous definition of architecture as «jeu savant, correct et magnifique des volumes assemblés sous la lumière» to confirm this statement, clear to anyone who approaches it. However, it is surprising to see that there is still a long way to go for light research to fully enter into the field of architectural design. It is true that the first studies on the theory of shadows date back to the 17th century, to then come together into descriptive geometry thanks to the French Gaspard Monge (1746-1818), and it is equally true that the lighting technique has been a discipline practiced in architecture schools. However, it is often considered in a marginal way and not as a necessary step in the architect's education. This in the face of a very rapid technological evolution, which has seen – only in the last thirty years – the passage from incandescent to discharge lamps (based on the luminescence emission by an ionized gas), up to the diffusion of optical fibers and then finally of LED technology. This drive for innovation was supported by the need to contain energy consumption, but also «to pay attention to lighting quality issues and to the global effects of light on human beings», as Laura Bellia, who is author of an article that takes stock of the situation, writes in this issue. This has greatly influenced the design of lighting fixtures, but also the more general conception of the role of light, natural and artificial, in the perception and fruition of architecture.

 

With these premises and coinciding with the 30th edition of Euroluce – the International Lighting Exhibition which, every two years, presents the most innovative lighting solutions for interiors and exteriors since 1976, today part of the Salone del Mobile in Milan – we wanted to dedicate the 30th number of Compasses to the theme of lighting, and more. The word pun inherent in the title recalls, in fact, not only the future of lighting, but also a more general look towards the future, through a series of articles that range over several themes.

 

In the first area, there is the [focus] of the issue, which opens with a research on the relationship between artistic avant-gardes and lighting design, developed by Luciana Gunetti, starting from the pioneering experiments of the early 1920s by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. The aforementioned article by Laura Bellia on innovative lighting systems for environmental quality follows, illustrated by new installations designed to illuminate two of the most important pictorial monuments in the world: the Sistine Chapel in Rome and the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. The frontiers of product design in the field of lighting technology are instead outlined in the two interviews with Emiliana Martinelli of Martinelli Luce and Gianluca Salciccia of Linea Light Group.

 

In the second area, namely the one looking towards the future of architecture, we find the entire [essays] section and part of the other ones. Thus, from the critique about the commodification of architecture, proposed by Ramon Rispoli, to the themes of environment and sustainability, recently presented at the 7th edition of the Milan Design Film Festival and at the 22nd Triennale and commented by Maria Vittoria Capitanucci, up to an important reflection on the present and the future of Gulf cities, developed on the occasion of the launch of the book The New Arab Urban, edited by Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini, the issue collects diversified ideas on the most pressing issues discussed worldwide. In this sense, this issue is ideally linked to the previous one, dedicated to the theme of sustainability, of which some themes are further developed.

 

Finally, there are more articles dedicated to themes not so distant from that of light: starting with a retrospective on a historical project, which perfectly belongs to the field of architecture as a «play of volumes brought together in light», that is the Hotel Camino Real Polanco, built in Mexico City by Ricardo Legorreta in 1968. Then follows an interesting interview with the photographer Maurizio Montagna, which highlights his Billboards project, dedicated to the relationship among subject, object and the context/landscape of which these are part. The theme of light also emerges in the project for the Dubai Sport Arena by UNICA Architects, while the [materials & interiors] section opens up to design in China, through an overview of Tianjin Design Week, presented by one of its protagonists, Massimiliano Campi, to close with a retrospective launched towards the future on one of the most iconic items of Italian design, the result of the creativity of the engineer Corradino d'Ascanio: the Piaggio Vespa, patented in 1946 and today – after more than seventy years – projected towards the challenge of electric power. Finally, also the [smart food] section, dedicated to the work of Filippo La Mantia and his collaboration with Piero Lissoni, plays on the theme of light in relation to food and cuisine.

 

Last but not least, it is really the case to say, this 30th issue inaugurates a major novelty, decided by the publishers and by the editorial staff after profound reflections on the role of the magazine in the international scenario: the English/Italian dual language edition. It is a very important choice, which brings added value to the original Compasses project. A return to the mother tongue of architecture, Italian, that, after the misunderstood internationalization of recent years was apparently receded into a minority idiom spoken among the architectural studies, while instead – in the light of recent data from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – it is now the fourth language studied all over the world. We hope that this choice – which does not change the substantial structure of the magazine, that remains primarily international, with English as the first language – can bring the public of Italian readers even closer, thus strengthening that fundamental link between the Middle East and Italy that was, and will always be, the basis of the Compasses publishing project.

 

 

Andrea Pane

 

 

Photograph by Michele Nastasi (Copyright 2019)

 

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