The lesson pivots around the biography of the architect Cherubino Gambardella, born in 1962 in Naples. Naples at the center, not only of memory, but muse and reference: a multiple city, with "sumptuous" geography, the gulf and the houses, the sky and the sea.
Naples was sunny and full of incredible things, a city that somehow conditioned me and that I liked. Since I was very young, I can say I remember this light, one of the strongest things I have in me. I have this memory of a city that was almost entirely white, so strong was the power of the light where colors seemed to fade and were sometimes very vivid in the solidity of the facades. The presence of this landscape, the sea, were the main theme for my activity, as well as the multiplicity of Naples, its construction through a sumptuous geography built in one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
If the city of Naples is the thread that guides the entire production - to be understood in the broad sense of a written, spoken and constructed architecture – also other artistic and literary references emerge along the educational path: moments and great figures of architecture as that of Michele Capobianco, John Hejduk and Franco Purini.
Places, people and moments which cross his biography and education represent the antechamber to the explication of the research themes conducted by the architect Cherubino Gambardella: the concept of "democratic beauty", or rather the revaluation of imperfection as an element of the project.
The topic of beauty for everybody, a sort of democratic beauty that I theorized in many writings and on many occasions, but which today seems very important to establish in terms of a basically imperfect activity. You are in an imperfect space, you are moving in an imperfect space, marked by imperfections, by a jumble of things, by disorder, which is a merit rather than a defect, because things must have the ability to end in disorder because nothing is more terrible, dictatorial and mandatory than order, nothing is harder and more capable of tiring us and depressing us and assaulting us with violence than order. Nothing is more pre-established than the dogmas that architecture has always fed on.
Concept of “bellezza democratica” that goes hand in hand with the architect's tools: alteration and translation, translating from drawings and sketches as a working method.
Democratic beauty has to be achieved by means of a toolkit that we try to slowly transfer through a constantly altered reading, the main problem is learning how to alter, knowing the rule to constantly alter it, submitting it to an action that is apparently toxic or lysergic that allows it to draw on the dreamlike dimension.
Theme of a vast and multifaceted production, where variation, transformation and concept of the Mediterranean emerge. The lesson shows at this point the examples of this action: from the villas in Itri starting from abandoned skeletons to the council estates of the "Corte Blu" in Piscinola, the exhibition pavilions of Expo 2015 and the mobility spaces of the Loreto underground station, the vocational school in Senegal and the restoration of the Torre dello Ziro.
The writer Giorgio Vasta called the tower of Ziro “the glance machine”. He said he felt changed into a mineral when he entered this space, I only conceived this space at an industrial scale, which was meant to consolidate the ruin and change its sense, it turned into a machine to see. For me observing the nearby landscape and the faraway landscape was very powerful. At times looking is more important than living. Observing is more important than being inside. The way up to the house, the system to go up due to its industrial scale, the reference to tree trunks used to prevent unsafe floor slabs from being stepped on, for me this was all crucial to the concept of Mediterranean itself, it became very strong. In 2000 I somehow interpreted a skeleton, a ruin, something like a point where nothing could be demolished but everything could almost be completed. An incomplete habitable constant. What is an incomplete habitable constant? Something that lays the foundations so you can look somewhere and preserve the ruin. As in the case of the Ziro Tower, in Capri I wanted to preserve a ruin, not finish it, but preserve it in its condition by favoring some points of view rather than others. And this is exactly what the “Mediterranean myth” is for me: journey, emotion, tension, view and contentment of the visual tool, and at the same time surprise for the disappearance of light.
A procedure that clashes with the regulations matter, against the dictatorship of function, starting from beauty. An escape from the Modern to a world based on architectural design and teaching. Contradictions and difficult balances that identify a future that is actually more similar to the eternal present of Sigfried Giedion, leaving freedom of action to the landscape, to the forests, and finding - as architects - an antidote to boredom.
We have one life, but a life without composing ideals makes absolutely no sense, I would be bored to death if I couldn’t tirelessly compose ideals that have the strength to hold on to each other, like a long wave of ideals that undergoes continuous surveillance. That our problem is finding, like democratic beauty, an incredible antidote to boredom, which is following cities that, also in the case of green architecture, are assaulted by formats. We are full of formats, if we can prevent these formats from being the winners in future generations we will probably have the opportunity to be more amazed and less bored by architecture, the city and its role.