Barreca & La Varra. A Matter of Façade

Barreca & La Varra. A Matter of Façade is in bookshops. The volume, edited by Moreno Gentili and published by Skira, tells of the thinking and design production of Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra through the common thread of the “façade” theme identified by the two architects. With texts by Gianandrea Barreca, Giovanni La Varra, Ugo Volli, Stefano Bucci, Giovanna Borasi, Joseph Grima, and an interview with Vittorio Gregotti.

Barreca & La Varra. A Matter of Façade. The book, edited by the journalist Moreno Gentili, is a review of the architecture designed and created by Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra from 1999 to 2007 with Stefano Boeri (Boeri Studio, Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca, Giovanni La Varra), and therefore from 2008 as Studio Barreca & La Varra. The volume, published by Skira, right from the cover represents the main theme identified by the Milan firm Barreca & La Varra (Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra) with a detail of building B5, part of the new RCS MediaGroup complex in Milan, which was recently completed. A series of reflections, offered by Ugo Volli, Stefano Bucci, Giovanna Borasi and Joseph Grima, express the theme of the façade from many points of view: interaction between nature and the urban landscape, transformation over time, the façade as a narrative and media document, the façade as the skin and frame of human experience, and the façade as a place of observation. These
texts demonstrate multiple critical paths that wind around the projects developed by the two architects in their first twenty years of designing: from the Vertical Forest to Building B5 for the RCS MediaGroup in Milan, from the ZIP Research Tower in Padua to the Shopping Centre in Milan.

Responsibility and Design: Architecture and Beyond. The introduction by Moreno Gentili opens with the work of Barreca & La Varra focused on a quality that the author deems critical for the success of the two architects from Milan: civil and professional responsibility. This is what allows Barreca & La Varra to scrupulously observe the needs of those who use their architecture, facilitate interaction between nature and the constructed space, and translate technological research into concrete fact “with the purpose of always arriving at new solutions that are often intense and engaging in terms of emotion and construction, above all as regards the main theme of this book, namely the façade in architecture”.

A Matter of Façade. With this text Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra present their interest in the building envelope, understood as “a face, an image, the architecture’s mark on the city”. The life of the façade, its public dimension, its history, its documentary and testimonial nature, and the relationship between its function and the passage of time, are all topics that run through the texts. “The façade is a clue to understanding the nature of a building – write the architects. In this subtle diaphragm they represent design issues such as technique and the symbolic, material and drawing, rules and performance demands, procedures and the unexpected. No other part of the building has the ambiguous experience of being part of the architectural structure and part of the city. The nature of the façade is always public, its vocation by necessity collective.”

A series of texts explaining Barreca & La Varra’s projects is intertwined with essays by Ugo Volli (Full Professor of Semiotics, University of Turin) on Aesthetic of the Urban Nature; by Stefano Bucci (journalist, Corriere della Sera) on The Urban Façade; by Giovanna Borasi (architect, curator and editor) on The Framing Façade; by Joseph Grima (architect and researcher, director of “Domus” magazine) with The Fifth Façade. Taking the design themes which are particularly dear to Barreca & La Varra as a starting point, the book touches upon topics dealing with the “contrast between nature and culture”; with natural dimensions and constructed space; with the façade beyond its aesthetic and technological image; with the relationship between the façade and those who experience it; with the boundary between domestic space (interior) and the urban landscape (external) intended as a diaphragm between the life of humans and that of the city; with similitudes between the façade and an advertising sign, thus communicating messages, telling stories, and transforming into a media platform. Even the roof of buildings, and namely the “fifth façade”, becomes a narrative fabric seen from above.

The volume ends with an “Interview about an Interview”, a conversation, which then became an interview in its most standard form, between Vittorio Gregotti, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra. Although they were not students of Gregotti, Barreca and La Varra acknowledge the famous intellectual architect for his capacity to continue to provide the profession and teaching with elements of stimulus.

Edited by Moreno Gentili
Size: 15 cm by 21 cm
Pages: 224
Images: 90, full color
Cover price: € 25,00
Publisher: Skira

– Responsibility and Design: Architecture and Beyond
– A Matter of Façade
– Aesthetic of the Urban Nature
– From Nature. The Façade and Plants
– The Urban Façade
– From the City. The Façade in the Urban Space
– The Framing Façade
– From the Interior. The Façade as a Frontier
– The Fifth Façade
– From Above. The façade in the Googlescape
– Interview about an Interview
– Appendix
– Biographies
– Project Credits

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