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Cersaie 2010: Conferences and Seminars
Social Housing: Micro and Macro

Wednesday 29 September - 11.00 a.m.
Galleria dell'Architettura

In the context of the most recent experimentation on the theme of social housing, two different types of approach are compared, highlighting differences and similarities in the development of one of the crucial aspects of contemporary design: the high density strategy of the Dutch firm MVRDV, which by compressing the urban fabric creates novel spatial and relational situations, and that of the Italian Cino Zucchi, in which the idea of living is explored on the basis of medium and low density models.


Fulvio Irace More

Fulvio Irace

Architect and Professor of history of architecture, Milan Polytechnic
Biographical notes
Fulvio Irace is a full professor of “History of Architecture” at Milan Polytechnic, where he holds the History of Contemporary Architecture chair at the Faculty of Civil Architecture and the Faculty of Design; he is also a visiting professor at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio, and a member of the board of teachers for the PhD course in “History of Architecture and Town Planning” at Turin Polytechnic.
He is a member of the scientific committee of the Vico Magistretti Foundation and is on the board of trustees of the Piano Foundation.
In 2008-2009 he was a member of the jury for the Mies van der Rohe European Prize.
From 2005 to 2009 he was a member of the Scientific Committee of the Milan Triennial and curator of the Architecture and Territory sector.
One of the founders of the national association AAI (Archivi di Architettura Italia – Italian Architectural Archives), he is one of the promoters of the “Architecture and Design” section of CASVA (Centro alti studi e valorizzazione delle arti – the Centre for Higher Studies and Valorisation of the Arts) of the Municipality of Milan.
Architectural editor for the publications “Domus” and “Abitare”, he has worked with the most important national and international magazines in the sector, and in 2005 was awarded the Inarch Bruno Zevi Prize for architectural criticism. Since 1986 he has been an opinionist in the field of architecture for the Sunday Supplement of “Il Sole 24 Ore”.
Attentive to the historiographies of Italian architecture between the two World Wars, to which he has dedicated much work through various exhibitions and publications, more recently his studies have concentrated on contemporary Italian architecture, and the figure of Renzo Piano, the subject of various monographs and an important exhibition at the Milan Triennial.
In the field of criticism and historical methodology he is the author of the following works:  Dimenticare Vitruvio, 2001 and 2008;  Le città visibili: Renzo Piano 2006; Divina Proporzione, 2007; Gio Ponti, 2009.
He has curated a number of architectural exhibitions.

Cino Zucchi More

Cino Zucchi

Biographical notes
Cino Zucchi was born in Milano in 1955; he graduated at M.I.T. in 1978 and at the Politecnico di Milano in 1979, where he is currently Chair Professor of Architectural and Urban Design. He has taught architecture at many international seminars and has been visiting professor at Syracuse University and at ETH in Zürich. He is the author of the books L'architettura dei cortili milanesi 1535-1706, Asnago e Vender. Architetture e progetti 1925-1970, and is editor of the book Bau-Kunst-Bau. He participated in the organization and exposition design of the XV, XVI, XVIII and XIX Triennale, and his work has been shown at the 6th,8th and 12th Venice Biennale.
Together with CZA, of which he is the principal architect, he designed and realized many industrial, commercial, residential and public buildings, a number of projects for public spaces, master plans and renewals of industrial and historical areas. The urban design of the former Junghans factory site in Venice was awarded a mention in the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2001 and in the Medaglia d’oro all’architettura Italiana 1995-2003 e 2004-2006, the Weinerberger Brick Award 2004 and won the Piranesi Award 2001, the “Comune di Venezia” Architecture Award 2005 and the Ecola Award 2008 for the category “Black Bread Architecture”. 

Jacob van Rijs More

Jacob van Rijs

Architect, MVRDV Architects (NL)
Biographical notes
Jacob van Rijs (Amsterdam, 1964) is one of the co-founding directors of MVRDV. In 1990, he graduated from the Technical University of Delft with a degree in Architecture (with honours).
Jacob van Rijs currently works on a wide range of projects. The Olympiakwartier masterplan in Almere, Netherlands, the Eco-City in Logrono, Spain and a number of large scale housing projects in India and South Korea. These housing projects represent thousands of apartments. In the past he has completed the TEDA housing in Tianjin, a high density housing project that experimented with a mix of low rise and high rise and made place for traditional Chinese housing typologies and supported local life-style. Currently he is working on the House of Culture and Movement, a cultural centre in Frederiksberg, Denmark, which was recently announced competition winner. The building will be a new typology with its mix of community centre, exhibition and performance, playground, park and health centre. Its aim is to engage the population of Frederiksberg in a healthy and active life style
The work of MVRDV/Jacob van Rijs is published and exhibited worldwide and received many international awards. The monographic publications FARMAX (1998) and KM3 (2005) illustrate the work of the Rotterdam based office.


Video interview

Fulvio Irace
Jacob van Rijs
Cino Zucchi

Press release "The city, the place most loved by Italians"

A new debate at Cersaie between Italian architect Cino Zucchi and his Dutch colleague Jacob Van Rijs, social housing pioneers. Two different approaches, one common "vision" of the deep social transformations that have radically changed the way we think of living spaces



“Private” places par excellence as opposed to Public spaces, to “public squares”, homes have lived through significant transformations in recent years.

A change that has involved the concept of homes rather than considering them as mere buildings.


With obvious consequences from the point of view of the approach to modern architecture to the theme of housing.


This was the central topic at Cersaie, in a newfound debate between the Italian architect Cino Zucchi and Jacob Van Rijs, also an architect and a member of the prestigious Dutch Mvrdv studio.


Professor Fulvio Irace, architect and a teacher at Polidesign- the consortium of the Milan Polytechnic  institute established to provide innovative design solutions and proposals within a constantly evolving technological, production and professional context- moderated the debate, offering a further contribution to the discussion.

The “Social housing: micro and macro” meeting was held yesterday, Wednesday 29 October in the Architecture Gallery.


The meeting saw the clash of two world views, two ways of thinking for the latest big housing frontier – social housing. In social housing the dogma of private places is totally separated from that of public places; the private sphere contrasts the public sphere, reverting to that famous metaphor of Habermasian memory. This sphere is more faded and, in the last resort, obsolete.


On one side was Van Rijs– co-founder of the Mvrdv studio and creator of magnificent works in the Netherlands and Spain, as well as imposing residential complexes India and South Korea–has illustrated his high density approach, which is able on the one hand, to restore the traditional types of housing, in a relationship with past and a tradition that has never been denied or put in second place. On the other hand, a “vision” allowing Rijs to offer cutting-edge solutions in densely-populated areas, thus reducing soil consumption to a minimum.

In complete contrast, as is typical of great masters, there is Zucchi’s position.


Zucchi is an architectural and urban design teacher, designer of residential, commercial and industrial buildings, offices, museums and public spaces.  He set apart also thanks to his talent for putting black on white, the master plan for restoring industrial and historic areas.


A living concept based on the idea of medium/low density, starting with the evidence for which immense constructions, now and even more in the future, benefit from being valued, retrained and redirected towards new uses that are more in line with modern lifestyles.

“Italians, in particular,” said Zucchi “are still affectionate about cities. These are the places that they still prefer and choose to live in, both for the facilities and the size of the areas that they offer and for the structures that they represent”.


A meeting point between these two “visions” is social housing and co-housing, the latter being the best declination of the former. 

Co-housing is already very widespread throughout Northern Europe and is thoroughly redesigning the concept of living, increasing spaces and communal facilities considerably: not just porticos and courts but real portions of buildings that become the centre of the house for “cohousers”, from facilities to party spaces or places dedicated to hobbies, games rooms for children and bedrooms for guests, even the kitchen.

An innovative concept that follows significant social transformations, from the way families are conceived to the renewed attention to environmental sustainability. Economic advantages that inevitably derive from sharing spaces and facilities are also considered.


Even social buildings – created to meet housing needs for the most disadvantaged section of the population – are transformed into “sociable” buildings.

Among the various approaches and prospects, one certainty remains: in a world in which our homes are different to how they were in the past, in a world in which, for example, those who travel for work and holidays, students but also those who want to start a family can choose new “sociable houses”. There will always be more and more need for architecture, for housing professionals able to tackle these new demands and therefore offer concrete solutions in line with the expectation.



Cersaie Press Office - 30 September 2010 -

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