​Massimiliano Fuksas: “An architect now must become a neighbour”

On September 17 Strelka hosted its last summer programme lecture. This time it was Massimiliano Fuksas, one of the most renowned Italian architects with buildings in the US, China, Italy, Georgia and other countries under the belt. Strelka.com asked the architect to tell about changing unfamiliar cities, the most difficult project in his career and why one should not be willing to become a pop-star.

Its not your first time in Moscow, what would you like to change here as an architect and artist?

I would change nothing! I not that pretentious to think that I can change such a diverse and stratified city of millions living in it. It’s impossible. I think what you can do in Moscow is acupuncture. It is a soft way. You cannot change the whole city, but you can change locally. You must understand this to be a good architect.

In your interview for the site «Nowness» you said that you dont want to be a pop star, so who would you want to be for people?

A friend. And handle friendly projects. It is very important. An architect must become a neighbour, the current state of affairs is binding thereupon. You cannot be way too academic, too far-out from the real life and people.

And what is the friendly architecture like?

The friendly architecture is the one that you feel good inside. It’s very easy, no complication is needed. If you can work best way, have a light best way, you cannot even feel much warm or cold, it is a friendly building. This kind of places shouldinspire and trigger positive emotions.

Massimiliano Fuksas’s lecture ‘Architecture in detail’ at the Strelka Institute.
Massimiliano Fuksas’s lecture ‘Architecture in detail’ at the Strelka Institute.
Massimiliano Fuksas’s lecture ‘Architecture in detail’ at the Strelka Institute.
Massimiliano Fuksas’s lecture ‘Architecture in detail’ at the Strelka Institute.

You also mentioned that architecture should be ethical. What does it mean? What modern architecture is not ethical?

The one that speaks only about shape, volume, geometry, past and is excessively academic. I would rather name those ethical examples—The Guggenheim Museum in New York, Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul, the Opera House in Sydney. All of them have a very good relationship with the landscape, and what is important — they are friendly for people.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, photo: Jorge Franganillo / flickr.com

What was the most difficult project in your career?

The most difficult project was, surely, the one I did in my hometown, the Congress Hall Nuvola. I have been working with it for 15-16 years. It is to be finished next year. It is an important building for the city and very difficult to build.

Together with your wife you work both on big architectural projects andthose of furniture and household items. Is there a considerable difference between small and big forms?

For me it’s absolutely the same. If you work with buildings, working with small projects would be very useful. This way you are close to the reality do not to become crazy, too proud of yourself. I think, one should never be proud of yourself. You can be happy having done your work, but never proud of yourself.

You have a great experience in working in different countries. What is the most difficult thing in working in new cultural environment, for instance, in Georgia?

Oh! I love Georgia! People are great there! First of all, it is important to understand where you are. You cannot export your project from one city to another, you have to consider people. In Tbilisi didn’t want to put something for myself or for my name there, I worked for people. People there are fantastic there —they are crazy dreamers, crazy and intelligent at the same time.

Palace of Justice, photo: Moreno Maggi / Fuksas.it

Have you been to Venice Biennale this year?

No, I had to organise the Biennale 15 years ago and I think it’s enough.

Photo: Gleb Leonov, Mikhail Goldenkov / Strelka Institute

The lecture is sponsored by "Banca Intesa" and is a part of the Polytechnic Museum and Strelka Institute educational project.The partner of "Polytech on Strelka" project is the company "MegaFon"