Nikos Salingaros came visiting our Urban Design course at Polytechnic of Milan in the summer of 2008. He gave a lecture to our students and many other staff members, scholars and students in the morning, then helped in a pre-grading review of student’s works pinned up on the walls of the studio room. Nikos gifted us with a lot of inspiring arguments and helped students discussing their own projects for the regeneration of social housing in Milan. That was the beginning of a collaboration that lasts still today and resulted in a major paper and a number of other initiatives. Thanks Nikos indeed!
This is the English version of the introductory flyer to Nikos’ lecture.
“For many centuries, even millennia, urban spaces have welcome human adventure and have changed with it. They have changed evolving, i.e. carrying the signs of what they were before, building on spatial structures that were interpreted, sometimes contrasted, but never dismissed, never destroyed. That was an evolution of the same kind of that of living organisms, of which we now possess an understanding like never before in history.
That evolution is now interrupted. Powerful dynamics have broken the organic system of our cities in separate pieces. Quoting Jane Jacobs, the sterile disorganized complexity of contemporary conurbations have replaced the organized complexity of our vital historical urban fabrics. Among such dynamics, particularly powerful was the cultural movement that – at the down of the XXth century – mutated architecture into an artistic avant-garde and then to the codification of modernism, postmodernism and now deconstruction.
Since then architects have become protagonists of the destruction of our cities as organic matter: they have constructed the intellectual models, the words and the images of such destruction, codes that still today dominate the international culture of architecture. Nikos Salingaros does not hesitate to term them “viruses”: minimal sets of information showing parasitic behavior, able to attack and disconnect the inner links of far more complex pre-existent cultural systems.
Recognizing the “viruses” is today very difficult, if not impossible, for architects: they operate in fact also within our cultural system. Nevertheless recognizing the “virus” is of utmost importance if a useful discipline is to be regenerated, one which is open and vital, and humane spaces are to be created once again”.