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Carlo Baroni

AAP Juror Elisa Burnazzi on Architecture

September 20, 2016

We asked our jury members the question: “What does architecture mean to you?”

Elisa Burnazzi of Burnazzi Feltrin Architects has this to say:

“It is not easy to answer the question “What does architecture mean to you?” In this brief essay, I will try to arrive at a definition step by step. Instinctively I would reply: to carry out architectural projects we have to build. It seems obvious, but everything starts from here: there is a need, and therefore, as an architect, you have to fulfill that need. Among the many needs which should be taken into consideration when we are doing an architectural design, there are those of the owner, user, manager, or even those of the maintenance person. On the other hand, the building or open space designed by an architect could be in various contexts, from an urban space to a natural landscape, and each one of these contexts has different needs to meet.

To fully understand the purpose of the job, an architect should serve their community and allow it to face them, because architects don’t build for themselves but for others. Personally I am aware that designing an architectural building means going beyond the functional purpose. An architectural building should aspire to be extraordinary, otherwise it is not an architectural building, but just a building. With this in mind, I could add to my answer that to do an architectural design, not only do we have to build, but we have to build something extraordinary. This leads to the following question: “What makes a building extraordinary?”

At university professors taught us that if we use many conceptual ideas in our project, at one point people might get those concepts. One would think that good architecture must catch the eye for its appearance, its aesthetic characteristics and for its technological content. This architectural methodology often forces us to be compared with other designers from the past, present, or even from the future. The competition that develops between designers is not something to be avoided, because it pushes us to do better, to seek appropriate solutions and therefore be proud of our architectural designs. However architecture is much more complex since it involves a real commitment to the society and community.

Now I can give a complete answer: to carry out an architectural project not only do we have to build, but we have to build something extraordinary, able to touch people’s feelings. The architecture reaches its full purpose when it makes people feel good, when appreciating or living that architectural building makes them feel comfortable and welcomed. A good architect knows how to use space and light, makes the materials “sing” and leads the users through a journey in which they can discover a thousand different things. Through architecture and the spaces created by the designers, users can connect with themselves, with their body, emotions and memories. As architects we try to give an answer to those emotional needs with our work: as for me, I don’t design only with my mind but also with my heart. In my opinion, as building specialists, we should not be frightened to face emotions or not being professional enough. The most beautiful buildings of all eras, those that are truly remembered and never go out of style, are the ones able to resonate with our emotions and to communicate soundly with our being.”

Photo by Carlo Baroni – GI Multi Family Housing in Trento, Italy by Burnazzi Feltrin Architects