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Gianluca Giordano

Photography and Italian Modernism. Olivetti Architecture

Date: March 17, 2021
City / State: Ivrea / Italy

If architecture is art and, as such, the architectural work is a work of art, then the first thing to do is to identify the value of the monument and determine whether or not it has any artistic quality, which, in the case of Olivetti architecture, was evident,” explains Gianluca Giordano.

An industrial city with a human dimension, where production plants are mixed with residential buildings and social services for workers and their families. This is Ivrea, a city closely tied to Adriano Olivetti, an industrialist whose innovative policies and collaboration with big names of architecture from 1930 to 1960 left a truly unique mark on the urban fabric of Ivrea. A place whose charm enchanted architectural photographer Gianluca Giordano as early as 2013, when he started his research project on Ivrea; he continued to work on it until 2015 when some of his photographs were chosen to accompany the official nomination dossier “Ivrea, Industrial City of the 20th century” submitted for UNESCO listing.

The photographic project has recently seen the publication of the catalogue of the exhibition “OLIVETTI@TOSCANA.IT TERRITORY, COMMUNITY, ARCHITECTURE in Olivetti’s Tuscany” dedicated to the characters and architectures that marked the history of Olivetti in Tuscany, organized by the University of Pisa in the town’s Graphics Museum in 2019. But to better understand this success, we need to take a few steps back and learn more about the origin of these images, which, since their publication on Ivrea’s official dossier, have become icons of an Italian reality where beauty blends with the social function of architecture.

The area in question mainly covers via Jervis, which also includes the ICO (acronym for Engineer Camillo Olivetti, founder of the company) workshops designed by architects Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini. Not to mention the iconic residential building integrated into the hillside, with the evocative name of “Talponia”, designed by Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Oreglia d’Isola with Luciano Re (1969-71), “Palazzo Uffici” (1959-1963) by Annibale Fiocchi, Marcello Nizzoli and Gian Antonio Bernasconi, with the addition of Nuovo Palazzo Uffici by Gino Valle in the 1980s. Basically, it’s a review of Italian modernism, concentrated in a pleasant walk.  However, what we see in the photos taken by Gianluca Giordano are not simple shots of the buildings but the result of a meticulous work rooted in the author’s professional history.

Born in 1978 in Piedmont, he graduated in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the Aldo Galli IED Academy of Fine Arts in Como. He started to collaborate on the conservation of some protected historic and artistic assets right from the start. After teaching for a few years, he returned to his passion, photography. It’s a field that allows him to combine his artistic background with the in-depth knowledge of materials and painting techniques acquired during his studies, resulting in a personal vision of architecture.

Right from the first of his many visits to Ivrea, such a combination ensures that Gianluca Giordano doesn’t succumb to the temptation of photographic reportage tout court or the architectural documentation typical of sector magazines. He has no intention of emulating the great masters of Italian photography, whose photographs of Ivrea have made history. Giordano’s approach is dictated by the same desire for beauty that already inspired Olivetti to pursue his urban-architectural plan for Ivrea. Back in 2013, such beauty was already ageing, often badly, not so much because of the negligence of users but because of the chronic lack of funds for the maintenance and conservation of this “open-air museum” of Italian modernist architecture. This is an issue for many Italian realities, where small and large architectural gems, especially those dating back to the twentieth century, risk inevitable degradation amid general indifference. No doubt this is a loss of local history but also a wasted opportunity, since the great potential of these architectural treasures continues to be underestimated even after they are recovered. 

Looking at Giordano’s photos, we see buildings of great dignity, almost timeless. Each shot contains a choice of perspective that softens our perception and emphasizes the dignity of the object portrayed.

The author obtains impressive photographs, not least thanks to the postproduction techniques he developed thanks to his initial job (conservative restoration), with which he patiently brought 17th-century frescoes back to life, piece by piece, like he did, for example, with the fresco by Luca Cambiaso in Genoa’s Villa Imperiale. In the photographs of Ivrea, too, he meticulously cleans each image by delicately removing signs of daily wear and bad weather, enabling us to see the essence of the incredible beauty behind the idea of an urban community with a human dimension.

Such creativity manifests itself both in the details he captured and in the colours of his images. These are intense and reminiscent of Olivetti’s many products, from the Valentine typewriter to the teleprinters, as the first fax machines were called, all of which are – in one way or another – part of both the world of international design and our individual cultural imaginary.

Therefore, Gianluca Giordano’s personal initiative has produced a visual story that skilfully blends the history of Ivrea with the present, the reportage with the restoration. We can immerse ourselves in a unique socio-cultural reality like Ivrea, which was rightly included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as “industrial city of the twentieth century” in 2018.

The images of Giordano’s photographic project originate from his passion for the 20th century, which he masterfully conveys thanks to his artistic touch as a restorer and photographer. They help us rediscover an extraordinarily topical urban experiment in a world that is starting to consider the human and sustainable dimension of our context once again as an added value. (Text by Christiane Bürklein)

 

Talking About Gianluca Giordano

Gianluca Giordano is an architectural photographer with a degree in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the Aldo Galli IED Academy of Fine Arts in Como. Over the years, he has collaborated on the conservation of protected cultural heritage in Italy. After teaching for a few years, Gianluca returned to his passion, photography. Here, he combines his artistic background with an in-depth knowledge of materials and painting techniques, resulting in a new vision of architecture.  Since 2012 he’s been collaborating with national and international architecture magazines and public and private galleries of modern and contemporary art. A selection of what was born as a personal photographic project, OLIVETTI. IMAGES OF AN INDUSTRIAL STORY about the town of Ivrea, was published both in the official nomination dossier “Ivrea, Industrial City of the 20th century” submitted for UNESCO listing (Ivrea is now the 54th UNESCO site in Italy), and by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity (DGAAP) of the Ministry for cultural heritage, activities and tourism (MiBACT). In 2018 ADI, Milan’s Industrial Design Association included Giordano’s photographic project in the ADI Design Index 2018 catalogue – “Olivetti. Images of an industrial story”, a traveling exhibition selected for ADI Design Index in the category: Theoretical, Historical, Critical Research and Publishing Projects. In December 2018, the photographic project gained further recognition from the Lombardy Region. Recognition of Products and Projects selected by ADI DESIGN INDEX – LOMBARDY EXCELLENCE: “Olivetti. Images of an industrial story”. In 2020 the photographic project “Olivetti. Images of an industrial story” was published in the XXVI Compasso D’Oro Catalogue.  Gianluca Giordano’s photographic projects have been exhibited with those by great names of Italian photography in prestigious locations such as Genoa’s Royal Palace, Pisa’s Graphics Museum (Lanfranchi Palace), Del Michelerio Palace in Asti and the Lomellino Palace in Genoa, just to name a few.

 

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Press Kit no.: 2021-17
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Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 6000  ×  4000 300dpi 7,1MB

Housing

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 6000  ×  3784 300dpi 12,8MB

Restaurant

Community Centre

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 5000  ×  7500 300dpi 12,1MB

Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 3500  ×  5250 300dpi 13,2MB

former joinery

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 7000  ×  4312 300dpi 10,9MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 6000  ×  3936 300dpi 13,1MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 3500 × 5250 300dpi 12,5MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

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Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 4000  ×  6000 300dpi 12,2MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 7000  ×  4636 300dpi 10,2MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 7000 × 5160 300dpi 10,7MB

Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 3200  ×  4800 300dpi 12,8MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 6000  ×  7801 300dpi 13,2MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 5728  ×  2864 300dpi 12,9MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 5408  ×  2800 300dpi 7,1MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 7000  ×  4048 300dpi 9,8MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 7000  ×  4517 300dpi 12,1MB

Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 8000  ×  3627 300dpi 11,9MB

Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 5000  ×  3333 300dpi 13,8MB

Community Centre

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 3200  ×  4800 300dpi 12,8MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 6000  ×  7801 300dpi 13,2MB

Office

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 9000  ×  5833 300dpi 11,1MB

Portrait Gianluca Giordano

Olivetti Architecture

Designer: Gianluca Giordano

Photo Credits: Gianluca Giordano

Size: 1080 × 1260 72dpi 534KB