Carlo A. Bertelli

By the front door. Buildings and money in Genoa (XVI-XVIIIth Centuries)

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Is there an European architecture? Does it have something to do with a topographical approach? Does it identify both a manufact and a social group as asked by Edoardo Grendi in 1998? The answer could be found in "the taste of things" as Renata Ago would say. This local knowledge has been investigated in Genoa by Ennio Poleggi and his group in the nineties by old maps, serial sources (census, cadasters) and direct survey, learning from the Survey of London, the studies of Françoise Boudon and André Chastel and inspired by Bauforschung, a traditional approach in Austria, Germany and East Europe. Aresearch on fiscal sources ("Ripe minute") and the study of the drawings of the Magistrato dei Padri del Comune (building magistrate in municipal archive of Genoa) shows that the palaces of Genoa (listed since last year in Unesco World Heritage) are only the first outcome of this approach. Learning from objects means also understanding the multiple suggestions that could link them to life and consumption. Handling them with care populates space with whispering people from the past. Sometimes this means direct relations to building, but no evidence of exclusive connection between project and the building itself.

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