“This building, “il Salviatino”, was built in a splendid natural setting at the turn of the last century.
The building evokes the charm of the period when Florence was undergoing an important cultural renaissance, when it was the destination of highly sophisticated demanding travellers.”
Right from the start, when he was a twenty-two-year-old writing about and studying architecture, Paolo Portoghesi (born in Rome in 1931) fought against the amnesia that beguiled modernity into thinking that it had cancelled history and that he believes could cause it to run aground in irrationalism.
An unusual personality combining the talent of the historian/critic with the skills of an architect-creator Portoghesi clashed with many of the leading figures on the Italian architectural scene, from Zevi to Benevolo and Tafuri, defending the need to refocus on tradition considered as a stimulus for innovation in continuity.
«Portoghesi’s historical method», wrote Argan, «does not lie in the relatively simple operation of finding Palladio in Aalto or Borromini in Wright, but in the inverse, more difficult operation of finding Aalto in Palladio and Wright in Borromini; it means showing that where Palladio and Borromini are found we will also find Aalto and Wright and involves everything else right up to the point of the moral and personal commitment of the historian. Thus we enter the realm of necessity, the reason why a historian must be a politician: poetics is not a premise but the ethical necessity of commitment of art on an executive level.»
Portoghesi’s main projects are the 1959 Casa Baldi, Casa Andreis in Scandriglia, Casa Bevilacqua in Gaeta, Casa Corrias in Campagnano and Casa Papanice in Rome; the Church of the Sacra Famiglia in Salerno, the “Ignazio Silone” library in Avezzano and the municipal library of Abano Terme, the Accademia di Belle Arti of L’Aquila, residential complexes in Tarquinia, Alessandria, Rimini, Roma Val Cannuta and Repubblica di San Marino; residential, retail and business complexes in Bologna and Abano Terme; the Poggio Reale civic centre, park and swimming pool in Sicily (as well as other civic centres in Ascea, San Marco in Lamis, Roccagorga, Castelgandolfo and Fondi; Portoghesi also restored the square in front of Milan’s La Scala opera house); the hall of the “Il Tettuccio” thermal baths in Montecatini, the hotelier school in Vieste in the Gargano (as well as other schools in Asti, Rome, and Abano Terme; the latter is a postgraduate school of computer science housed in a converted farmhouse in Rapolano Terme); the headquarters of the Avellino Industrialists’ Association, the Excelsior Savoia Suite Hotel & Store in Rimini and the development and restoration of the historic buildings in Rome’s Ospedale San Giovanni (as part of the works for the Jubilee).
In 2002 the “Nuovo Politeama” opera house was inaugurated in Catanzaro (other theatre projects were created for Cagliari, Parma, Busseto, Torre del Lago and Fondi, under construction; completed: the open-air theatre in Ascea, the Bari Kursaal and the restoration of Rome’s Teatro Argentina and Treviso’s Teatro Civico); in recent years Portoghesi designed various sea-fronts on the Adriatic coast and managed the re-development of the historic ports of Tarquinia, Civitavecchia and Trieste.