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Giovanni Michelucci

Pistoia, Florence, Italy
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Giovanni Michelucci, 1933

Giovanni Michelucci was an Italian architect, urban planner and designer. He was born in Pistoia lived almost hundred years, he died two days before his hundredth birthday at his studio-home in Fiesole in Florence's hills. He had the good fortune to live a long life almost entirely within the span of the twentieth century, giving us a valuable witness through his work with innovative architectural vernaculars and proposals, from his understanding of the complexity of events, transformations, and ideas that animated the twentieth century. He was one of the major Italian architects of that century, known for famous projects such as the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station and the San Giovanni Battista church on the Autostrada del Sole.

Study and Academic profile

He graduate from the Higher Institute of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence. In 1914 he was licensed as a professor of architectural design; so he could teach at the Institute of Architecture of Florence, and became Dean of the Faculty of Architecture in 1944. He built his first architectural work, a chapel on the eastern front in Casale Ladra, near Caporetto (today in Slovenia), during the war.

Between Years 1918-1945

After the war he left Pistoia and moved to Rome. Life in Rome was experienced as an extraordinary opportunity to study the architecture of the holy city and to build new work experience. In 1933 he coordinated the Tuscan group with Baroni, Berardi, Gamberini, Guarnieri and Lusanna and gained first prize in the architectural contest for the Santa Maria Novella new railway station in Florence.

Between December 1945 and January 1946 he founded the magazine "La Nuova Citta". In that period he produced ideas and plans for the reconstruction of the area around Ponte Vecchio. These concepts for innovative spaces clashed against the award-winning, elitist trend of reconstruction "like it was where it was" that would deliver a series of historical fakes responsible for the future museification of the city.

Between Years 1945-1990

In 1948 Michelucci left the Faculty in Florence, and became a professor at the Faculty of Engineering in Bologna, where he remained until the conclusion of his teaching activity. The first turning point work after the war was a small church in the countryside of Pistoia. It represents a manifesto against the fashionable rhetoric and focus on the human dimension, using the language of rural architecture in order to restore the main religious and civil meeting center of a small and poor community, marking definitively the real role of architecture in the service of his idea of "The New City".

He worked in social housing, workers' villages, public buildings, banks, churches, museum, social spaces for prisons, hospitals, schools and other projects, always developed around the idea of a friendly, supportive, democratic community-city, where architecture is open to the city, people-oriented and far from disciplinary boundaries of styles and languages. He created the church of San Giovanni Battista, Highway A11 (Church of the Motorway near Florence) and the Church in the San Marino Republic during 1960s.

Michelucci Foundation

In 1982 he decided to establish with Regione Toscana and the cities of Fiesole and Pistoia the Fondazione Giovanni Michelucci which he guided until his demise. He bequeathed his vision and values to the Foundation, that he wanted to be attentive to the social problems of the city and to the separate worlds of total institutions as prison, asylum, hospitals. He committed the Foundation to offering ideas and plans for action on the chronic urban question, how to reconnect separate spaces by a new design of the city, giving witness to a way of life and to making architecture meet the needs of the people. The Foundation now also conserves his archives, his works, his writings, his ideal heritage.

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Pistoia, Florence, Italy
thedani, February 11th, 2017
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