Franziska Bollerey

(Prof. Emeritus TE Delft; Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Bauhaus in Dessau)


The Architecture Of The 1920ies Through The Camera Eye - The genre of portraying architecture, cities and landscape is common since the mid of the nineteenth century. Baldus, Atget, Marville, Stieglitz, Langdon Coburn, Steichen and in Italy the Alinari brothers were amongst the most famous photographers. With them and reproduction techniques, which Benjamin rightly analyzes as a step to mass-medialization, the iconologization of architecture starts. Especially the ideology of 1920ies functionalism would not have had its worldwide influence without the distribution of photographies in the print media and exhibitions as well as archiving all this material. Amateur photographers, among them architects such as Mendelsohn and Gropius, and professional photographers were eager to document the newest architectural achievements. After the move of the Bauhaus from Weimar to Dessau photography played an ever increasing role in this institution. Gropius, aware of the PR-effect, asked professionally-trained Lucia Moholy-Nagy to come up with a series of photos produced as postcards and material for journalists. Thus the Bauhaus building was transformed into an icon and vulgarized into something like a “Bauhaus-Style”. But realistic documentation was only one part. Parallel to it experimentation stimulated the protagonists: photograms, typophotography, double exposures and extreme spatial positions of the camera were employed. Highlight in the year 1925 was Moholy-Nagy’s book “Film, Foto und Malerei” and in 1929 the international exhibition “Film and Foto” in Stuttgart in Germany.


Maria Inmaculada Aguilar Civeira

(Cátedra Demetrio Ribes, Universidad de Valencia; Consellería de Infraestructuras, Territorio y Medio Ambiente)


La mirada del ingeniero. Fotografía e ingeniería civil en la España del siglo XX. Características de un género - La construcción de Obras Públicas durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX será uno de los motivos más sugerente de los primeros pasos de la fotografía en España. Instituciones gubernamentales y empresas rindieron culto al progreso y a la modernidad del siglo con unos singulares álbumes fotográficos o reportajes selectivos. Un nuevo soporte de prestigio que fue antecedente de la fotografía técnica y corporativa. Para las grandes empresas del siglo XX la fotografía fue un claro recurso de marketing, de propaganda tanto de sus infraestructuras o instalaciones fabriles, como de sus productos. La incorporación de la fototipia y el fotograbado en los medios de comunicación democratizó la imagen fotográfica y la mirada hacia la ingeniería civil formó parte de lo cotidiano; llegó igualmente la mirada del fotógrafo aficionado. Registrar, documentar, mostrar, trasmitir, comercializar, forman parte de los objetivos de este género. Características que ya surgen definidas en el siglo XIX y que, con ciertos matices, se mantienen en el siglo XX. Si los álbumes de Obras públicas de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX serán los protagonistas del origen del género, las grandes colecciones fotográficas como la de La Maquinista Valenciana, los Docks Comerciales del puerto de Valencia, la Compañía siderúrgica del Mediterráneo y la Unión Naval de Levante se presentan como representativas del siglo XX.


Valeria Carullo

(RIBA - Royal Institute of British Architects, London.)


British outlooks on Italian modernism - Modernism made a relatively late arrival in both Italy and Great Britain. It is therefore not surprising that very little modern Italian architecture was seen in that country before 1934, when the Royal Institute of British Architects organised an exhibition in its newly inaugurated headquarters to showcase the best of international architecture from the preceding decade. On display were photographs of works by Pietro Lingeri, Gino Levi-Montalcini, Edoardo Persico and Marcello Nizzoli. Since then there has been a cautious but recurrent interest in Italian Rationalism, mostly unencumbered by the negative associations with Fascism that have inevitably influenced the domestic view of that era. Photography has often been the conduit for a discovery, re-discovery and re-assessment of the works of architecture produced in the inter-war period. This paper provides an overview of the reception of Italian Modernism in the British architectural press, from initial responses to more recent evaluations, and highlights the role of photography as a mediator of information and interpretation.



Angelo Maggi

(IUAV - Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia)



Re-interpreting Italy Builds: Italian Architecture according to George Everard Kidder Smith - George Everard Kidder Smith’s book Italy Builds. Its modern architecture and native inheritance. (1955) is a collection of astonishing architectural photographs, data and critical comment upon the traditional and modern architecture. The many forms of visual narratives adopted by the author become a valuable index to the kind of building the young mid-twentieth-century architect was prepared to see when he travelled Italy. Trained as an architect and, like many of his generation, using the camera as a tool of analysis and memory, Kidder Smith knew a certain amount of history but by no means considered himself an historian. He thus simply records what has interested him in the architecture of the past and present, and the photographs and explanatory text directly reveal how he has seen it. His eyes goes first toward the primitive: the solid, earth-heavy shapes of masonry, the panels of brickwork, the skeletons of wood, the directly functional types, the solemn personification of human qualities in the landscape. When Kidder Smith turns to contemporary Italian architecture he consequently develops new standards of judgments. He encapsulates in his photographs the great range of Italy’s modernist experience, always elegant, and usually with an intelligent touch. The paper will focus on the wake of the success between architectural photography and personal architecture criticism as a new creative processes which brought to light new ways of understanding both fields.







Luigi Spinelli

(Politecnico di Milano)


Photography and architecture Italian magazines: "Domus" of Gio Ponti - Photography has documented in various ways the path of the twentieth century architecture in specialized magazines. After a brief overview of the panorama, the lecture focuses specifically on "Domus" magazine because, more than any other, is the magazine that for a long time experienced the issues of communication, attending to the evolution of the architecture and design photography. From a first season characterized by education to a style of living, to the years of progress of production of building materials, to which "Domus" gives an aesthetic of short and expressive captions, until the postwar period, after the interlude of Ernesto Rogers as director, when Gio Ponti raises the communicative role of the magazine through the interaction between graphics and photography. A modern project, in the coexistence of "Casabella" and "Stile Industria", which is identified with Giorgio Casali techniques and some episodes in which architects present themselves as architectural photographers.



Ornella Selvafolta

(Politecnico di Milano)



Modern Architects and Photography. Luigi Figini as a Case-study - Like other modern architects Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini have shown particular interest in photography and both have variously practiced it in the course of their work: as a tool for investigation and knowledge, for interpreting and communicating; not infrequently, as a component of their architectural designs. In the case of Luigi Figini such features are emphasized and enriched by his tendency to explore the potential of photography, both as a technical means and an expressive language and as a testimony of the relationships betweeen history and modernity, architecture and nature. The report considers these issues highlighting, through photography, the personal poetics and contribution of Luigi Figini to the architectural culture of twentieth century’s Italy.



Fulvio Irace

(Politecnico di Milano)



The lecture assumes the so called 900 architecture as a case study in order to give evidence to the critical role of photography and to stress the way it can actively play in building the historical reputation of architecture.

A particular reference will be given to the work of Milanese master Gabriele Basilico whose role in the success of two major exhibitions is beyond doubt: “La Metafisica: gli anni Venti” (Bologna, 1980) e “AnniTrenta. Arte e Cultura in Italia” (Milano, 1982).

In both the exhibitions the obvious limits of historiography had condemned to silence large frames of Italian architecture between the wars. To be valued, they had to be first restored: they had to regain voice and face! We needed a new iconography, mainly for those who were completely lacking any visual references. An in deep research into the files of Gabriele Basilico’ archive gives as an opportunity to analyse shoots and proofs trough which the artist silently built its own interpretation of the buildings.




Ferdinando Zanzottera

(Politecnico di Milano)


In polyhedral activities of study and project of architect Virgilio Vercelloni, a complicated cultural personality and architectural operator in Milan between sixties and nineties, great importance have held the images and photographs, also intended as an opportunity for innovative communication.

The use of art photography, often related to specific campaigns specially commissioned and meticulously studied, constituted for him an essential element of the architectural story, from the building site to the design of an object related to the city and the green.

Photography wasn’t just, the carrier architectural and historical or sociological-spatial stories but it was part of his way of understanding the cultural process and essential element of the dissemination of knowledge, characterized by different levels of interpretation; that is expressed in a complete form: exhibitions, books, papers, films, lectures and many other issues on which the relation hesitates.




Fabio Mangone

(Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II)


The Photography of Roberto Pane - In 1922 Roberto Pane is among the first graduates from the School of Architecture in Rome directed by Gustavo Giovannoni. During his long and varied career, his projects as a professional architect, even if linked to important and relevant buildings, gradually becomes less important than his activity as a restoration architect and theoretician, an historian and a urban planner. A skilled draftsmen and steel engraver, and greatly influenced by formalism and pure visibility theories, since the beginning of his career Pane is interested in visual communication forms, considered not only as an expression of his innate artistic vein, but also as a fundamental tool of interpretation and evaluation of the city.

Among his various activities, starting from the Thirties photography assumes a role that becomes always more significant. Only implicitly regarded as a way of expression, his images are mainly a tool of analysis, interpretation, essential documentation, suitable to open up new perspectives and crucial methodological refinements for his activity as a critic, historian and urban planner. After the second post-war, filtering the cultural movement of the Neorealism through his peculiar intellectual position, Pane wisely uses the camera as an essential instrument to define the innovative notion of “ambiente” (i.e., environment, context), going beyond the traditional picturesque conception of landscape inherited by the previous century.

His sensitivity allows him to enhance the role of photography, and later of cinema, to define and grasp the characteristics of the urban or extra-urban site: even if “ambiente” also means “colore locale” (i.e., spirit of place), Pane relies on his camera not as a device to document the present moment, a particular light condition or a folkloristic event, but as a way to trace the essential and permanent traits of the landscape, considered as an inextricable twist of “natural and built elements”, of “urbs and civitas”. Together with the drawing and the video shooting, photography becomes a vital part of a complex and lively intellectual activity, articulated towards the creation of documentary images able to inspire further research and reflections, collected in essays, journals and exhibitions.









Renata Meazza, Enzo Minervini

(Regione Lombardia)

Tra documento e interpretazione: fotografie d'architettura negli archivi di Regione Lombardia

This speech arises from our client experiences, collection and preservation of photographic materials related to the activity of the Culture Department of Regione Lombardia and more specifically on one hand to the Cultura del Mondo Popolare Office that has founded the Ethnography and Social History Archive “AESS” and on the other hand to the Regional Cultural Heritage Information System “SIRBeC”. The Image Archives are the visual component of AESS and they were composed by a series of targeted commissions and by the acquisitions of pre-existing photographic collections. These archives are formed by photos on different themes, from reportage to portraits, from still life to photography of architecture and landscape. As well as the theme of this conference, we will try to propose a dual key image reading: the distinction between mere documentation photos and photographs that try to interpret a building, a cultural landscape, a cultural object or a building site or even the mere materiality of an architectural artifact. Our contribution starts from the reflection stimulated by the experience related to the management and the classification of a very huge archive, which contains hundreds of thousands of images.



Silvia Paoli

(Civico Archivio Fotografico, Musei del Castello Sforzesco, Milano)


Architects and Architecture of the Twentieth Century in Paolo Monti’s photographs - Paolo Monti (1908 - 1982) opened a professional studio in Milan in 1953. On the reopening of the Civic Museums at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan in April 1956, with the new display design by the BPR group, Monti accomplished a broad photo campaign where, compared to other photographers working in the same period in the same spot, he introduced a different attention to the environment and interiors, spatial relationships and architectural details. After the Castello Sforzesco’a Museums, Monti recorded especially Carlo Scarpa’s projects (the Olivetti store and the Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice, the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, the Gavina shop in Bologna, the Abatellis Palace in Palermo). He also worked for Franco Albini (e.g. the Crypt of the Treasury of St. Lawrence in Genoa) developing a personal attention that makes Monti one of the best architectural photographers. His special ability, as Italo Zannier said, consisting in a new and different photo "style" that actually renewed the field of architectural photography.



Tommaso Tofanetti

(Biblioteca del progetto e Archivio storico, Fondazione La Triennale di Milano)


Photography, Installations and Ephemeral Architectures at the Milan Triennale Ephémera, efe - mera (efemerios adjective) means of a single day, hence the term ephemeral opposed to permanent, and its meaning in main part negative. Observing the ephemeral architectures produced and hosted in the Triennale exhibitions we will understand the ephemeral real meaning, in line with the exhibition time, maintaining the desire to discover these works and their return to the main public. For this, the photography in the twentieth century and the video footage made by the thirties are the best and immediate way today, together with graphic and building drawings and construction boards, to keep the memory of the projects, considering the proper storage of items that allows the enhancement and disclosure of non-permanent architectures





Maria Fratelli, Elisabetta Pernich

(CASVA - Centro di Alti Studi sulle Arti Visive, Milano)


Is photography a reproduction of reality or is it invention? A thorough analysis of photographic series present in architecture CASVA archives shows that the answer is not that obvious. The reason behind this double look of photography lies mostly in where photography actually stands during the process of a project’s production. Most of the time, one can observe that architects take photos of architectural projects they are working on with no particular artistic purposes: pre-existent conditions, yards and ended works are reproduced in photographic archives throughout personal shots or those of non-professional photographers (as in Gnecchi Ruscone Archives; Drugman Archive).

Sometimes, professional photographers, even well-known names, can be involved when a project becomes a consumer good and it therefore needs to be marketed and promoted. In that specific case, photography transforms from a pure instrument of work to a product itself (as in Roberto Sambonet archive). Between these two extremes, there is a multitude of possible interpretations stemming from the photographer first critical glance: consequently mere documentary shots can rise to pure masterpieces (as in Vercelloni Archive).

Photography introduces again the reality when – after a while – it helps in the study of architecture and design; shots becomes therefore a practical copy of a reality not in place anymore: although buildings and objects are still existent, photography only can maintain the unchanged memory of those times, and it contributes to conceive the overall view of the original project.




Susanna Zatti

(Musei Civici di Pavia)


The urban transformation of the fascist town of Pavia in archivist Chiolini’ photograph - The photographic catalogue of Gugliemo Chiolini (1900-1991) was bought by the city of Pavia in 2009. It is located nowadays/today in the civics museums in Castello Visconteo. It is made up of more than 880 000 negatives and positives images, all tidied up in about 14 000 boxes. Chiolini’s activity began in 1926 and went on until his death.

If around half sixties Chiolini’s firm received international orders relative to the buildings sites infracstructures documentation (autostrada del sole, road tunnel, …), the production of fascism years was almost exclusively oriented to the report of small town way of living and his building transformations. The studies carried out until now on this imense bottom favoured it, so as to give back a far more clean and vivid image of Pavia architecture between Eclettism and Rationalism.




Fabrizio Trisoglio

(Fondazione AEM- Gruppo A2A)


The Photographers of Energy: people, architectures and landscapes by AEM Historical Archives - Fondazione AEM was established in 2007 in order to preserve the industrial heritage of AEM (Azienda Elettrica Municipale), one of most important italian energy companies, established in 1910 by the Municipality of Milan to manage electric production and municipal lighting service.

In its history, AEM has produced a huge cultural heritage, including archival documentation, photos, films, industrial archaeology, oral history and more.

In particular the great historical photographic archive, declared of historical interest, is composed of about 200.000 photos and symbolize not only the development of the municipal company but also the history of industrial growth in Milan and Lombardy. Divided into different funds, this archive is composed by authors like Antonio Paoletti, Vincenzo Aragozzini, Guglielmo Chiolini, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin and Francesco Radino. Starting from 2013, Fondazione AEM has been promoting annual exhibitions on its history and photographic archive to disseminate their knowledge.




Andrea Lovati

(Archivio storico, Fondazione Fiera Milano)


Photography, Business communication and PR at Milan Trade Fair - Fondazione Fiera Milano’s archives preserve over 200 thousand pictures, the majority of which was taken during Fiera Campionaria, general trade show of utmost importance, born in 1920. The Campionaria trade show was the showcase of Made in Italy, a place where firms – both big companies and small exhibitors- would exhibit their best products. For two weeks the Campionaria attracted millions of visitors, so the struggle for visibility was intense. It was fundamental for the companies to have an effective communication, not only to promote their products but also to spread their brand. Thanks to the pictures from Fondazione Fiera Milano’s archives, it is now possible to understand several aspects of business communication, starting from the changes that advertising has gone trough, to the variety of marketing techniques that have been used over the years.



Paolo Galimberti

(U.O.S. Beni Culturali, IRCCS Ca'Granda Ospedale Maggiore di Milano)


An unexpected client: the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan - In the past centuries the Maggiore Hospital was one of the main architectonic and urbanistic presence of Milan, as well as the „Ca’ Granda“ of Filarete and Richini, the Lazaret and the „Rotonda“ of Besana. In the 20th century many new buildings such as the Policlinico pavillons, the hospitals of Niguarda, Sesto San Giovanni and San Carlo were built. Outside the city the building of modern homesteads was promoted.

The architectures are illustrated in the photographic documentation preserved in the archive with snaps and campaigns commissioned to professionals. There is also a documentation of arragements realized for temporary exibitions. The pictures are also interesting because they integrate different sources such as iconographic, documentary and artistic.




Roberta Valtorta

(Fondazione Museo della Fotografia contemporanea, Cinisello Balsamo, Archivio dello spazio)

Il progetto Archivio dello Spazio 1987-1997: leggere l'architettura storica nel paesaggio contemporaneo

The Archivio dello Spazio project 1987-1997: a reading of historic architecture in contemporary landscape - Archivio dello spazio/Archive of Space (1987-1997) is considered the longest lasting project commissioned to photographers in Italy and Europe. Within the Province of Milan Architectural and Environmental Heritage Project, 58 architecture and landscape photographers (among which O. Barbieri, G. Basilico, G. Berengo Gardin, R. Bossaglia, V. Castella, G. Chiaramonte, C. Colombo, M. Cresci, P. De Pietri, V. Fossati, L. Ghirri, G. Guidi, M. Jodice, W. Niedermayr, F. Radino, P. Rosselli, G. Tatge) worked in 7 photographic campaigns in 192 municipal districts, producing 7465 photographs (now part of the Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea collections). Starting from the survey conducted by CEDAR, CBCA, ISAL, PIM, the authors made a free reading of the architectural and environmental heritage putting them, however, in connection with the landscape in which they are placed, in order to stimulate reflection on the difficult relationship between the historical memory and the contemporary in a territory, the Milanese, particularly marked by a strong economic development and a contradictory transition to post-industrial phase.



Paolo Carpi

(Studio Baukuh, Milano)


The House of Memory in Milan - The House of Memory is a house, a collective house in which Milanese citizens hope to find protection for the memories they want to preserve. Nobody inhabits this house, and in this case the word house is understood as an envelope, a protected space, or a shelter that crystallizes memory within the flow of the metropolis. The word “house” – which is far too familiar – paradoxically emphasizes the monumentality of the building, turning it into an archetype or a symbol. The House of Memory is a house, and therefore a monument. In this context, the house becomes an object to be both protected and exhibited, a treasury to be surrounded with an envelope that both defends and exposes its content.

The relationship between memory and the House of Memory is not one of direct translation. Contemporary Milan does not possess a stable, entirely shared memory, ready to be carved in stone without further interrogation. Rather than considering the House of Memory as an expression of shared memory, we preferred considering it as a tool for discussing the different elements that coexist within the collective memory of the city.

The idea to entrust a building with the task of preserving and transmitting memory might seem anachronistic and it is certainly problematic in the context of contemporary society. In fact, we are all quite suspicious (and not without reason) of attempts to capture memory into something as defined and irreversible as a building. It is precisely in this complex dimension that the potential of the new building lies: in the possibility of combining the slowness and inertia of architecture with the multiplicity and rapidity of contemporary media.








Sergio Poretti, Tullia Iori

(Università di Roma Tor Vergata)


The lecture is part of the SIXXI research, funded in 2012 by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council, which focuses on the history of structural engineering in Italy in the nineteenth and twentieth century. In this research, photography plays a central role. On the one hand, capturing unrepeatable moments of life of the construction sites, it offers an irreplaceable documentation to investigate the way in which the large structures were built in Italy. Second, it is flagrant proof of the crucial stages of the very unusual modernization of the country, of which the engineering is the protagonist.

With a quick selection of photographs retrieved in a variety of archives - partly in the classic, Photographer’s ones, and partly in those of designers, companies and customers - we want to trace the sequence by the rise to the peak, until the decline of the Italian School of Engineering.



Marida Talamona

(Universitàdegli Studi Roma 3)


Casa Malaparte was built in Capri in the years between 1938 and 1943, during which Malaparte alternated brief stays in the island to long months abroad as war correspondent for the Corriere della Sera. Starting from his trip to Ethiopia – from January to April 1939 – Malaparte began to use a camera, adding to his reports pictures of landscapes, men and objects. The same happened with the construction site in Capri. Malaparte used photography to verify the house design with the landscape around and to give new directions to the entrepreneur. All of this starting from the famous picture of the staircase of the Chiesa dell’Annunziata in Lipari. His pictures of the site in Capri are precious to document the different stages of the construction, the parts built and then destroyed and the design process – made by additions and subtractions – until the architecture reaches its ultimate shape.




Marica Forni

(Politecnico Milano)


Photography in building Site : the QT8 case in Milan - The use of photography played a crucial role in documenting the construction of the experimental residential quarter of the VIIIth Trienniale in Milan. The ‘photographic narratives’ of architecture construction took place, with peculiar and different communicative purposes, through a series of steps, including design, the temporary exhibition, the building Site. My contribution to the Conference focuses on these topics with reference to the first phase of the quartier (1947-1950) using a broader set of documentary sources, for rereading the photographic documentation. This photographic documentation states the synthetic trace of an ephemeral parable where the attempt to find a shared and innovative response to the dramatic and complex issue of the housing becomes an opportunity to imagine the possible trajectories of industrialization of the building process. The prefabrication, promising to be the most effective tool, finds in the QT8 quarter some opportunities for experimentation His potentialities will remain isolated, however, disregarded by the strategies developed by 1949 by the Fanfani Plan.





Maria Antonietta Crippa

(Politecnico di Milano)


The construction sites of the Lombardy region Pirelli skyscraper - The photographic documentation and interpretation of the two major construction sites of Pirelli skyscraper, the central building in Lombardy Region’s headquarters, is today a source of primary importance for understanding this building as a monument in the twentieth century Italian architecture. Besides, the first construction site allows us to learn about the working conditions and the urban environment in the same mid-century. The second adds an in-depth exploration of its construction technologies and materials. The skyscraper is now an international icon of contemporary history, a work of a mature Gio Ponti in dialogue with the two protagonists of Italian engineering school, Danusso and especially Nervi. Campaigns of famous photographers, such Arno Hammacher and Paolo Monti, and mere documentary photographs of the open construction site, are essential components of a modern historical sense, attentive to the processes as well as to its outcomes, even in the architecture field.



(Sala Biagi, ingresso n. 4, 1° piano)

Piazza Città di Lombardia - Milano


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