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AUID series presents texts extracted from the final doctoral dissertations of the Doctoral Program in Architectural Urban Interior Design (AUID) at Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies. Editor Francesca Zanotto Graphic Design Francesco Trovato AUID Head Alessandro Rocca AUID Scientific Board Guya Bertelli, Marco Biraghi, Marco Borsotti, Marco Bovati, Pier Federico Caliari, Simona Chiodo, Luigi Cocchiarella, Emilia Corradi, Andrea Di Franco, Immacolata C. Forino, Carlos Garcia Vรกzquez, Stefano Guidarini, Laura Montedoro, Marco Navarra, Orsina Simona Pierini, Gennaro Postiglione, Alessandro Rocca, Alessandro Rogora, Pierluigi Salvadeo, Luigi Spinelli, Ilaria Valente, Fabrizio Zanni.


AUID series These agile booklets document the research carried out within our doctoral program. We decided not to publish the entire doctoral works, which are extensive and articulated, but to, instead, select and extract, from those scientific concentrates of sophisticated knowledge, the most comprehensible studies that are obviously associated with themes of the current debate on architectural design. These texts have, therefore, been forcibly stripped of their premises, of the state of the art and apparatus overview. They have, at times, even been disconnected from the broader rationale they belonged to. Hence, it is an arbitrary and, sometimes, unjust process, if we consider the scientific coherence of the original constructs. However, dear reader, we assure you that it was done with the best of intentions, an effort aimed at building a small, solid and well-designed bridge between the elite world of academic research and the fluid, open and permeable to discussion, updates of the critical evolution of contemporary architectural design. Alessandro Rocca


Contents

9

Foreword Andrea Gritti

11

A22. The History of a Special Motorway

61

Between Maintenance and Preservation

84

Notes

94

Bibliography


Foreword Andrea Gritti


Andrea Gritti | Foreword

In the 20th century, infrastructures – primarily roads and motorways – were the symbol of modernity. In Italy, the motorway system’s project and construction process were related to economic development and to the transformation of society; however, they have also been conditioned by the country’s particular geographical layout. Today, new paradigms require us to rethink the role and the form of motorway infrastructures, which can be assumed as emblematic artifacts of a transition that is still ongoing and aimed at overcoming the associated industrial society, culture and territorial structures. Due to the rapid technological development, the motorway now shows some signs of obsolescence involving relationships between carrier and support, artifact and networks. The history of the infrastructural systems and of the forms they have acquired over time allows us to consider the motorway not only as an architectural space but also as a technical device, as an anthropological fact and, in the near future, as an archaeological finding. In this perspective, the motorway can be reconsidered as a new “historical object”, or rather as a new kind of heritage, starting from a reflection of the value assumed by maintenance and preservation practices, interpreted as paradigmatic operations of the architectural project. In fact, the motorway is subjected to continuous operations to maintain efficiency and safety standards, and also to discontinuous operations to protect and safeguard its original elements. In this sense, the A22 motorway, which runs from the heart of the Pianura Padana to the Brenner pass, is the ideal historical, geographical and technological context for these observations.

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A22. The History of a Special Motorway


A22. The History of a Special Motorway

The study of the motorway infrastructure from an architectural point of view and in relation to the contextual economic, social and political conditions necessarily raises some questions about two main aspects: “history” (or “time”) and “form” (or “space”). “History”, because motorways are part of the general development of technological and infrastructural systems that have both distinguished a significant moment of transition to modernity and, later, overcome it in the European context, starting from the mid-19th century. In the Italian setting, the construction history of the motorway network highlights a formidable contradiction, which has opposed the country’s structural backwardness to the achievement of a singular record: the first stretch of motorway of today’s planetary network is Italian1. This original contradiction has developed in two opposite directions: on the one hand, it has strengthened achievements and experimentation; on the other, it has generated some instances of evident conflict with the landscape and with the original forms of the territories involved. Therefore, considering the altered economic and societal conditions of the contemporary context, assumed as a problematic background, the motorway infrastructure could be the most significant artifact to reflect on the legacies of modernity and on the future of territorial structures produced by both the industrial society and capitalist economy. “Form”, because the study of the motorway introduces some reflection on the “inherent” and “extrinsic” space of this infrastructure. The “inherent form”,

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Claudia Zanda | The Architecture of a Motorway

12

only too often defined by solely taking into account technical reasons, could, instead, be connected to a long-standing tradition of architectural studies and experimentations, which have dealt with the road as an architectural space, especially in the modern era2. The “extrinsic form”, given by its relationship both with the landscape and the territory, is part of studies that, starting from the experiences of great road infrastructures in the United States, in Germany and in France, span the concept of “townscape”, the interpretation of the picturesque in relation to the speed of the car and the famous theories of visual study3. In the light of this close link with “history” and “form”, motorways, as objects eternally destined to transform both their spatial characters and formal elements to respond to increasingly stringent criteria of efficiency and safety, allow us to question their role as “historical objects”, or rather as the “heritage of modernity”. They are indeed the testimonies of economic, political, social conditions and spatial solutions meant to constantly change. The history of the project, of the construction and of the current and future transformations of the A22 motorway is, in this sense, an emblematic case within the history of the Italian motorway network’s implementation after World War II, especially because of the exceptional involvement of landscape architect Pietro Porcinai. Only on few occasions were professions other than engineering involved in the project for an Italian motorway.


The project and construction of the A22 motorway date back to the 1960s and 1970s. The general project was approved in 1960. The first National Autonomous Roads Corporation (ANAS) concession was issued in 1964, and the whole section was opened to traffic in 1974. From the Brenner pass, situated at 1,372 meters above sea level, the motorway reaches Campogalliano, where it joins Autostrada del Sole motorway, with a total length of 313.5 km4. A study of the construction history identifies some specific questions to reflect on Italy’s general political,

A22. The History of a Special Motorway

Hence, some complementary narratives can be developed around the A22 motorway: the first centred on the infrastructure’s construction policies and practices; the second on the architectural and landscape research, also developed through the design contribution of Pietro Porcinai to its implementation; the third on the recognition of its structural transformations and, consequently, on the discussion of its changing relations with the territory and the landscape it crosses. The history of the motorway, starting from its coming into operation, is an effective testimony of the continuous transformation of motorway vectors and artifacts due to the need for their necessary efficiency, even when, as in this case, the design research developed around their realization is proof of values and quality. In this perspective, some typically contextual specificities can be recognised as a new paradigm of the architectural project for the motorway infrastructure.

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The A22 motorway under construction in the Mantova-Pegognana section. Archive of Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A., Trento.


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Profile for LetteraVentidue Edizioni

The Architecture of a Motorway  

The A22 motorway and the history of its project and construction constitute a unique case within the implementation of the Italian motorway...

The Architecture of a Motorway  

The A22 motorway and the history of its project and construction constitute a unique case within the implementation of the Italian motorway...

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