Culturalising Today's Technology
Renzo Piano


Renzo Piano In The Paris Office, 1986

©Monica Pidgeon

I came to architecture through the process of somebody that likes construction. I'm a child of a builder and my brother is a builder and my grandfather was a builder, and everybody in my family has been builders. Construction is in my feeling from my childhood. I was with my father on the construction site. I like that. It's almost physical. And that explains probably why I started my work from a sort of experimental process of doing things and testing. And even now, when we do schemes — with much better, of course, organisation of the work, more professional — we come to the solution through a double process: one is mental and the other one is more mathematical, theoretical. But I still like this concept of making experimental work. In my office here in Paris, as well as in Genoa in Italy, I have a workshop and I like to bring to the office the atmos— phere of the site. We don't accept physically any separation between the con- ception work and the realisation work. I think this sort of approach of a craftsman is quite essential to me. I think the dissociation existing now between thinking and doing, between the end and the head, it's dramatic, and in architecture that's impossible. Because the moment of doing things is actually giving a very strong feed—back to the moment when you conceive something. And that explains why the first work I've been doing, in the beginning, between '66 up to '70 basically, it's almost experimental. I've not even been doing architecture in the real sense of the word, butpfieces of architecture.


Space Frame, 1969

©Renzo Piano

For example, this slide is showing a space—frame made of wood and steel and it's very simple, but in the same time it's that kind of simplicity that is so diffi- cult to achieve, because every piece in compression is wood, every piece in tension is steel. And the rigour you need in designing such kind of structure is immense.

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