The fly­ing ar­chi­tect

AD (Italy) - - Englishtexts. - words FRAN­CE­SCA MOL­TE­NI


In­tre­pid de­scen­ts and climbs. Car­lo Mol­li­no ado­res the moun­tains, speed, acro­ba­tics, ri­sk. He fies, runs and bursts with ener­gy. At 110 years from his bir­th, this is the sto­ry re­la­ted by Ful­vio and Napoleone Fer­ra­ri, who have crea­ted the Mu­seo Ca­sa Mol­li­no in Tu­rin. Long for­got­ten, con­tro­ver­sial and un­di­spu­ted Italian 20th- cen­tu­ry master, Mol­li­no’s re­pu­ta­tion was al­rea­dy frm­ly esta­bli­shed du­ring his li­fe­ti­me. «Right from that bleak jour­ney to the Ame­ri­cas, I have ex­pe­rien­ced on­ly fru­stra­tion... su­ch as would be un­bea­ra­ble for ab­so­lu­te­ly anyo­ne...», he says in a let­ter three years before his death ad­dres­sed to the en­gi­neer Al­do Bri­zio, who was hea­ding the re­con­struc­tion of the Tu­rin Tea­tro Re­gio, de­si­gned by Mol­li­no him­self. He feeds the my­th of the un­ru­ly and ec­cen­tric ge­nius. In eve­ry­thing he does, the­re is crea­ti­vi­ty, di­sci­pli­ne and me­thod. As a racing car driver, he de­si­gns pro­to­ty­pes. As acro­ba­tic avia­tor, he per­forms per­fect ma­noeu­vres. He be­co­mes a ski in­struc­tor and au­thor of a do­w­n­hill skiing ma­nual. Pho­to­gra­phy is ano­ther life-long pas­sion – he is one of the fr­st to use the Po­la­roid for his por­trai­ts of wo­men. It is from his fa­ther, the en­gi­neer Eu­ge­nio, that he ac­qui­red many of the­se pas­sions. They wor­ked to­ge­ther for over 20 years, sharing pro­jec­ts, com­mis­sions and con­struc­tions. It was a com­plex re­la­tion­ship. The fa­ther re­proa­ches him for his dog­ma­ti­sm, ir­re­gu­lar hours and his un­ru­li­ness. In 1943 Mol­li­no wri­tes to Gio Pon­ti: «I must con­fess that, apart from the daily si­lent Ho­me­ric strug­gle with my fa­ther whom I lo­ve dear­ly, I do not wi­sh to chan­ge whe­re I live and work: (...) it lea­ves me free to be alone with my ima­gi­na­tion, let’s call it my in­ner land­sca­pe». In that stu­dio he fnds the free­dom and the pos­si­bi­li­ty to ex­press that in­ner world, the ima­gi­na­tion whi­ch he vin­di­ca­tes in the face of the con­for­mi­sm of bour­geois so­cie­ty that is espe­cial­ly Tu­ri­ne­se. Yet it would be im­pos­si­ble to think of Mol­li­no without Tu­rin – the in­du­strial city, Fiat, «con­ser­va­ti­ve, bo­ring, hi­gh­brow», but al­so eso­te­ric and me­ta­phy­si­cal. It is he­re that he rea­li­zes his ma­ster­pie­ces, so­me ar­chi­tec­tu­re, hou­ses and fur­ni­tu­re, vi­sua­li­za­tions, sce­nic de­si­gn. Many com­pe­ti­tions, many lost, many works disappeared in a city that seems to show no fond­ness for him. But then, in the mid- 60s, it re­di­sco­vers him and as­si­gns him the de­si­gn of the new Pa­laz­zo de­gli Afa­ri for the Cham­ber of Com­mer­ce and the Tea­tro Re­gio - he wins at la­st. On­ly Gio Pon­ti, who was al­so un­lo­ved by

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