Panel Discussion
Tendenzen 1975: The Autonomy of Theory

Panel Discussion, Mario Botta, Marco De Michelis, Ludovica Molo, Bruno Reichlin, Martin Steinmann Moderation: Irina Davidovici
Organizer: gta Exhibitions
Date: Tuesday, 7 November 2017
Time: 18.00
Location: HIL E 4, ETH Zurich, Hönggerberg

As part of the “gta 50” anniversary, this round table considers the legacy of the seminal gta exhibition Tendenzen – Neuere Architektur im Tessin of 1975. Curated by Martin Steinmann and Thomas Boga, Tendenzen showcased the work of architects emerging in the Ticino in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including among others Mario Botta, Giancarlo Durisch, Aurelio Galfetti, Bruno Reichlin, Fabio Reinhart, Flora Ruchat-Roncati and Luigi Snozzi.
Beneath the formal heterogeneity of the new Ticinese architecture, the curators identified a shared reservoir of modernist and vernacular references, linked by a concern with notions of tradition, meaning and autonomy. Clearly indebted to the theoretical framework of the Italian Tendenza, the Ticinese discourse was nevertheless an assorted collection of different artistic and professional agendas, acknowledged in the plural form of the German title. The Tendenzen exhibition brought Ticinese architecture to the attention of a wider national and international audience, marking a pivotal moment in the cross-fertilisation between Italian theory and its Swiss reinterpretations. Moreover, the theoretical substrate of this production provided a transferable set of design tools that, in turn, had a substantial impact on the work of subsequent generations of ETH graduates.
The round table brings together for the first time some of the main protagonists of the original exhibition and its audience – curator, participants, critics – to discuss its premises and their wider implications for architecture. To what extent did the exhibition’s theoretical substance reflect the intentions of the built architecture? In what ways did its contents impact on the audience? How did its effect reverberate across generations? What is its relevance today? By assembling a series of diverging perspectives on this singular event, the discussion hopes to tease out contradictions and outline the productive dialogue between theory, buildings, and their representation.