Nearly 30 years have passed since the birth of Open House Worldwide, when back in 1992 the first global architecture festival was founded in London with the aim of raising awareness of the importance ofarchitecture as a tool for designing urban spaces and improving the quality of life. Since then, Open House has been a steadily growing phenomenon that now associates 47 cities on five continents, with more than one million citizens involved worldwide.
In Italy there are already four cities joining the Open House network: Rome, Milan, Turin and, from 2019, Naples. This year's Italian edition has already touched Naples and Milan, while waiting to unveil the hidden heritages of more than 200 public and private sites in the capital city. In fact, if Turin has given up on the 2020 edition for this year, Rome is preparing to open its "ROOMS" to the public. The advice is to monitor the Open House Rome website for dates not to be missed.
But let's take stock of what this beginning of the season has revealed about the hidden architecture of the two iconic cities of northern and southern Italy. The overture to Open House 2020 programming began in Naples, which was the alchemical element of the Italian event this year.
A city famous throughout the world but still very secret and little revealed, Naples opened the doors of more than 130 buildings, almost all inaccessible, open to visitors accompanied by more than 500 volunteers, for a total of 16,000 visits organized in 48 hours (Oct. 3-4). A journey to the heart of underground Naples, to the regenerated Naples of the historic center and urban greenways, to the Naples of childhood, of creativity "from below" concentrated in the most peripheral municipalities, to which, this year, special attention was devoted.
The credit for this innovative edition is due to theOpenness Cultural Association, a group of architects, communicators, sustainable development experts, cultural workers, sociologists and creatives who have pooled their experience and expertise to establish a year-round aggregating space in the urban area for knowledge, dialogue and planning.
Innovation was also the watchword of the just-concluded Milan edition (Oct. 10 and 11), which featured a hybrid schedule of offline and online openings and special content.
An extraordinary edition that takes on the tones of an aesthetic and political manifesto, moved by the desire to follow up on the succession of images of a monumental Milan, empty and silent, like the one we have seen before our eyes during the long months of isolation. "A frozen beauty waiting for new life," reads the introductory text of OH Milano.
In its extraordinariness, the Milan edition nonetheless proved to be respectful of the times present, with a limited and contingent organization. To the physical program, composed of a selection of openings of 20 sites and 3 thematic itineraries, was added a digital palimpsest with 20 interviews and in-depth discussions with artists, architects, critics, curators, gallery owners, photographers, and professionals in the field of real estate, with whom the event organizers dialogued immersed in the architecture of their studios, their homes or the spaces they occupied with their narratives. Through interviews and the small live video tours, Open House Milano managed to "open up" even more author interiors and expand access to images and content, even beyond the 48-hour schedule.
This edition, which is also historic for this reason, proved that if there is one place to start over, it is the city and the sense of belonging to it.