remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte

roberto conte pays tribute to paolo portoghesi (1931-2023) 

 

Paolo Portoghesi, a remarkable figure in the architectural world, passed away on May 30, 2023, at the age of 92. His lifelong dedication to the field of architecture, his invaluable contributions as an academic, and his profound influence on architectural theory and practice have left an indelible mark on the profession. In tribute to the late architect, Italian photographer Roberto Conte has shared a photographic ‘In Memoriam’ series, gathering a selection of images he captured over the years that celebrate and remember Portoghesi’s architectural genius and role as a postmodernist pioneer. 

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
Amedeo d’Aosta high school (1975-1980) – L’Aquila, Italy

all images © Roberto Conte | @ilcontephotography

 

 

‘The Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi passed away today at the age of 92. Here are few of his projects that I have personally visited over the years, without any presumption of completeness (also given the huge number of his creations) but just as a thought dedicated to a person I’ve always respected a lot. I appreciated some of his works very much, others less, but I always liked his total freedom and intelligence. I had the pleasure of talking with him a couple of months ago even if just by telephone, and despite his age I found a person who was totally present and lucid, with a powerful and precise memory as well as a kindness of a gentlemen that is increasingly rare in this world,’ writes the photographer.

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
‘Sala Portoghesi’ at the Terme Tettuccio (1987) – Montecatini Terme, Italy

 

 

sharing some of the late architect’s most emblematic works 

 

Born in Rome in 1931, Paolo Portoghesi grew up in the shadow of the Pantheon and was captivated by the beauty of architecture from a young age. While Portoghesi specialized in the study of Classical architecture, with a particular focus on Baroque architecture and the works of Borromini and Michelangelo, his interests extended beyond the confines of the past. Alongside his colleague Bruno Zevi, he championed a more organic form of modernism, drawing inspiration from the works of Victor Horta and Frank Lloyd Wright. In Italy, he embraced neorealism and the Liberty style, imbuing his own architectural creations with a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. 

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
‘Sala Portoghesi’ at the Terme Tettuccio (1987) – Montecatini Terme, Italy

 

 

One of his most iconic works, photographed by Roberto Conte, includes the ‘Sala Portoghesi’ (1987) at the Terme Tettuccio in Montecatini Terme, Italy. Designed within a thermal bath complex as part of a series of modernization initiatives, the multifunctional room recalls early 20th-century aesthetics and is considered one of Paolo Portoghesis’s most controversial works. Stepping inside the Sala, one is greeted by twelve tree-shaped wooden pillars that support a glass canopy in polychrome hues, flooding the room with diffused natural lighting. Complementing the wooden warmth is a captivating diamond-shaped floor tiling divided radially.

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia (1971-1974) – Salerno, Italy

 

 

Following the same spirit of dramatic curvatures and geometries, Paolo Portoghesi joined forces with engineer Vittorio Gigliotti in 1971 to complete a new structure for the Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia (Curch of the Holy Family) in Salerno, Italy. With some interventions still unfinished to this day, the concrete church centers around the circle, using its curvatures to express divine unity and centrality. Its most characteristic feature is the sculptural roof volume that shelters six ‘centers’ in concentric circles. At one point, three of these concentric volumes converge to shape a dome pooling ample daylight onto the altar. This convergence of three subtly alludes to Christianity’s divine trinity: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

 

While concentric patterns dominate the ‘new’ church interiors, Portoghesi and Gigliotti also injected tubular concrete sculptures to balance out the striking horizontality. Finally, slices of narrow and vertical windows — tinted blue and green — add a much needed lightness as well as a traditional touch to the dramatic, modernist atmosphere.

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia (1971-1974) – Salerno, Italy

 

 

Roberto Conte also spotlights the Amedeo d’Aosta high school (1975-1980) in L’Aquila, Italy, emerging as a monolithic concrete body of stacked cubes jutting out to reach for the landscape ahead. Fronting each block is a large window that recalls the structure’s cubic division.

 

Portoghesi’s famed Mosque of Rome (1995) concludes this tribute with its majestic offset of tree-like sculptures and a nod to Italian design. Considered the largest mosque to be built in the Western World, the complex took over ten years to plan and complete following its commissioning in 1974 by the Roman City Council, who donated the plot. Clad in Roman-inspired materials like travertine and cotto, the mosque takes on a simple and meditative design, where light and patterns define its spirit.

 

roberto-conte-tribute-paolo-portoghesi-designboom-full

Chiesa della Sacra Famiglia (1971-1974), Salerno, Italy

 

Indoors, traditional Islamic mosaic motifs and light pendants complement a soft Persian carpet where up to 2,500 worshippers can gather for prayer. Topping the main prayer hall is a large dome structure surrounded by sixteen smaller ones, recalling the sense of repetition and rhythmic design. Other programs include galleries for female worshippers, a classroom with a library, a conference area with an auditorium, and an exhibition space.

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
Mosque of Rome (1995) – Rome, Italy

remembering late architect paolo portoghesi through the lens of roberto conte
Mosque of Rome (1995) – Rome, Italy

roberto-conte-tribute-paolo-portoghesi-designboom-FULL-2

Mosque of Rome (1995) – Rome, Italy

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom

ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY (304)

PHOTOGRAPHY (364)

ROBERTO CONTE (14)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5