Interview with Vincenzo Latina

In Syracuse, Italy, he planned architectural masterpieces that have won Prizes and Awards at national level. We talk with Vincenzo Latina about his thought: as the novelty can regenerate the antique.

Questions by Fabrizio Aimar

Vincenzo Latina is awarded as the Italian architect of 2015 for “the […] rare sensitivity and attention to the cultural and urban heritage, in which he can establishes a meaningful relationship of interaction and dialogue.” What is your thought about the contemporary addition compared to the historical pre-existence?

“We have remarkable case studies of Cultural Heritage. There is the urban one, but also that one given by the ideas or the thought and literature. In Italy, we have almost everywhere these peculiarities. It arises from a sum of stratified historical events in time. My idea is to help and to provide continuity to this transformation, which is part of the story. So, processing as conservation; do not let me be misunderstood, but it can be recovery, restoration but also demolition and reconstruction, depending on the cases. There is no valid rule for any traits in the city. Therefore, it is about a particular attention paid in the historic city center and in the most recent districts, in which you may intervene between the faults of the city and place, grafting contemporary interventions in a historical continuity. Hence, the historic city is a sum of modernity over time. Consequently, plot with the contemporary means to shape of history and its perpetration.”

About the application of materials, how you blend the values of craftsmanship, uniqueness and typicality in your works, such as, for example, in the Artemision Pavilion-Museum in Ortigia or at the Corte dei Bottari in Syracuse, Italy?     

“All materials are beautiful and interesting, because it is the thought of man that must be active and profitable. Even what for some people might be ancient as the stone, it becomes contemporary like that a consumption object such as a plexiglass, according to others persons. Therefore, there is not a valuable or privileged material compared to other ones. All materials are contemporary because it is the thought that must be contemporary. The design approach is an active resistance, global and local at the same time, “glocal”. It means to give priority to the economy but not in a protectionist sense, but rather in the land excellences, such as stone, steel, wood, glass, plastic, rubber and leather too. Italy has been famous for its excellence. It is necessary to have a perspective of global modernity that represents the peculiarity of a place, of a material or a craft skill, in a global interest. It reveals an oneness, a precious thing. It is part of an expression of the land, not a prohibitionist one but highly qualified and peculiar, contemporary, that has stratified on that object over time. Therefore, the global in the local and vice versa, continuously playing cards.”

In a recent interview, you claim to believe in comparison/clash, in the conflict, but only if it is productive and stimulate a dialogue on the differences. This sensitivity, deduced from the social sphere, how is applicable in architecture?

“A comparison/clash have to be always profitable! In culinary terms, we possess a Mediterranean ambivalence, with a little bit of Arabian taste. The sweet is bittersweet, with the presence of sour and sweet such as the sweet with the salty, where the chocolate meets also the salt. This mixture, this wide diversity in flavors, balanced in harmonious form, represents a harmony of differences. In my opinion, this is peculiar because it is more interesting. The complete harmony becomes cloying. Try these ones on the palate, where each part of the tongue reacts differently to the bitter and the sweet, give us different stimuli and memories. Similarly, even the architecture can interact in differences: new parts must always be haughty, as alteration of a state, and different from the surrounding context. A difference in harmony into a context of diversity. So, not a striking dissimilarity that dominates the other. Just enjoying of these unique culinary or confectionery goods to try these special implications. Therefore, to taste better these nuances, you cannot be too ‘dry’ with expressiveness as the star-architects one.”