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Life lessons

"In 1990 I made it to the finals of the only architecture competition of my life (later it will become clear why it remained the only one):

in Milan'.


The competition, presented with pomp and circumstance by Mayor Pillitteri (Craxi's brother-in-law) and managed by SINETICA (a company owned by a certain Aniasi, a close relative of the former socialist mayor) and with all the blessings (Patronage of the Order of Architects, Patronage of the Municipality of Milan, on the commission Cesare Stevan, dean of the Faculty of Architecture, also a socialist, etc.) promised that the winning project would be built in the centre of the square, instead of a flowerbed with a stunted little tree. 

The competition was reserved for architects of Italian nationality, aged 40 or under and registered with the Milan Ordine di Milano.

The project by Alzek Misheff, a Bulgarian, non-architect, 50 years old, done in two hands with his architect wife, won.


I had entered the final and was naturally very annoyed, because I felt that my project under normal conditions could have won. In fact it had its reasons, as it was designed for driving around in what, far from being a square, is a car roundabout. The design envisaged two high, symmetrically opposed walls, in the shape of an inverted trapezium, which, as you drove around it, seemed to 'widen' and open up to reveal a single high jet of water, like a mountain split by the force of spring water.

I asked a friend, a good architect, what he thought of it, and he very honestly said that he didn't like it very much, because, in his opinion, a fountain should be made mostly of water, not walls. And I think he was right.


The project was never realised. It was blocked by the then councillor Massimo De Carolis, who argued, quite rightly, that the maintenance of the 365 water jets in the winning design would be too costly, and therefore neglected. Why was this simple reasoning not done by the jury? In any case, the sapling is still there, a symbol of what struggles but does not change

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