What international project has caught your eye lately?
"I just got back from Abu Dhabi and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in Muslim communities. I was very impressed by a design for a rural training centre in Gaibandah (Bangladesh) inspired by one of the country’s most ancient urban sites, delivering a fascinating new take on space, matter and geometries. One of the winners was a red brick mosque in Dhaka designed by a woman, Marina Tabassum. It’s a warm and inspiring construction. It blends weighty Islamic tradition with absolute modernity. Designs that speak to communities are truly powerful. It is interesting that both projects come from a country currently experiencing such a dramatic period"
MADE expo is Italy’s number one building and architecture show because it brings everyone together: designers, builders and users of the end product. What are you expecting this edition to deliver?
"I’m expecting insights into the world to come. MADE expo has always had a strong focus on sharing knowledge, and invests heavily in meetings, exhibitions and conferences. It delivers a top-notch cultural experience. The decision to open the last day to the public reflects a desire to give Italians a gateway into a world that is often viewed as complex and impenetrable. It’s a far-sighted decision and an excellent way to raise awareness in our local communities. Culture needs to be at the heart of public debate and people need tools to better understand their environment. Without culture there can be no research and industry will not move forward without research. If industry does not thrive the economy has no future, a prospect that deeply concerns us all"
You feel very strongly about “disaster resistant architecture” as a complex and extensively studied concept. What role should architects play? What is the most challenging part of rethinking cities from the architectural standpoint?
"Architects are rapidly turning into mediators. They are a bridge between advanced and highly specialised technical expertise and the awareness that architecture always has a major impact on communities. A building will exist for generations. Going forward we will be building less and differently. I believe architects need clarity of vision in a world where blandness abounds, along with a signature “style” that is uniquely their own. But they must also listen to the world around them and to what people want. Architecture only exists because people exist. Unless we learn to listen and communicate we will never learn our craft. The early 20th century Italian architect Edoardo Persico, paraphrasing the Bible, said that architecture is the “substance of things hoped for”. I also think that architecture is only meaningful if it offers a future"