The way humans are on earth

For seven years, Cersaie has provided an opportunity to reflect on contemporary architecture together with key players in the field

by Maria Teresa Rubbiani

During the seven years of Cersaie’s building, dwelling, thinking programme, the show has hosted almost a hundred conferences, debates and seminars and welcomed more than 280 speakers.
The programme was first launched in 2009, a year after the economic crisis plunged a large number of countries – Italy included – into recession. A few months after that fateful September 2008 when the consequences of the American subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 began to make themselves felt in Europe, it became clear that this was not just one of the regular downturns that every so often hit the western economy, where cycles of peaks and troughs alternate as part of an overall upward trend. It was clear that everything had changed irreversibly and that a rethink from the bottom up was badly needed.
And so the organisers of one of the most important international trade shows decided to launch a cultural programme devoted to reflection on the contemporary world – aptly named “building, dwelling, thinking” after the title of a famous essay by philosopher Martin Heidegger. Alongside the human activities of building and dwelling, the next crucial step is that of ‘thinking’.

Over the last seven years, Cersaie has hosted numerous internationally renowned architects, including several Pritzker prize winners, as well as designers, engineers, historians, sociologist, journalists, architecture historians, futurologists, musicians, artists, anthropologists, writers and even psychoanalysts. From one year to the next these guests have been invited to reflect on the cities and homes in which humans live, or – as Heidegger put it – “the way humans are on earth”.
Although there is insufficient space here to list all the speakers who have come to Cersaie over the last seven years, we can mention a few of the programme’s highlights.


These include discussions of major architectural projects by the architects themselves, including Pritzker prize winners Renzo Piano, Kazuyo Sejima, Shigeru Ban, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Rafael Moneo, Toyo Ito and Glenn Murcutt; projects that are both ambitious in scale and have great symbolic value, such as the reconstruction of Ground Zero; projects by architects from emerging countries such as Bijoy Jain; unrealised projects such as Stefano Boeri’s concept for Expo 2015 or his completed and much talked about ‘Vertical Forest’; the lessons in reverse for students given by eminent Italian designers such as Enzo Mari and Alessandro Mendini; the design of buildings for musical performances in the presence of sound engineer Higini Arau; the contemporary design work of Patricia Urquiola and Ito Morabito; the social project of Paolo Portoghesi; social housing with MVRDV and Cino Zucchi; architecture and narrative with Giuseppe Culicchia and Marcello Fois, Cini Boeri and Bruce Sterling; and the different approaches to ceramics and architecture followed by Francisco Mangado and Matthias Sauerbruch.

The 2016 programme will be no less interesting, so in the meantime why not visit where all the videos of past conferences are available for viewing?

Enzo Mari