“The task of the architectural project is to reveal, through the transformation of form, the essence of the surrounding context.”

~Vittorio Gregotti

Vittorio Gregotti is a name associated with a myriad of identities. An architect, an urban planner, a designer, a thinker, a writer, an intellect, and the list flows into many more métiers.

A pioneer in revolutionizing Italian architecture that has had an effect on the entire world as well; a brave mind that voiced out radical ideas and complex thoughts, which the fraternity took time to decipher.

Every human being’s ideologies and beliefs are gradually shaped, like soft brown clay getting moulded by a wheel of life. Let us understand the life of Ar. Vittorio Gregotti to unravel his principles and explore his beliefs that are strings of a larger idea; his philosophy.

Silhouette of his Life

Vittorio Gregotti was born on 10th August 1927 in Novara, in northwestern Italy. The backdrop of his childhood was quite affluent as he was born to a wealthy textile family. He pursued architecture at the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan). Further, post his graduation in 1952, he worked for an Italian architectural magazine; Casabella. His effort and words led him to the promotion and he contributed as the editor in chief from 1955 to 1963. 

He also educated multiple batches at several universities. He voiced his profound thoughts through books on architecture theory. Gregotti was requested to be a part of the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1978. He led the visual arts section.

Gregotti founded his own firm in 1974. Gregotti Associati International, and went on to design the Stadio Luigi Ferraris (1992) in Genoa, the Belém Cultural Center (1992) in Lisbon, Università Bicocca in Milan (1998), Teatro degli Arcimboldi (2001) and many other notable projects. His studio also designed the master plan for the New City of Pujiang in Shanghai, with an Italian Architecture concept.

He was an active member of the Italian Communist Party. His passion for writing kept growing and he has authored innumerable articles and about 30 books with an exceptional honest narrative and gaping thoughts. He was the key figure in shaping the post-modernism era during the 1970s. He passed away due to pneumonia after being infected with the coronavirus during the pandemic that shook the world. His life lies teemed into the books and ideologies he vocalized.

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A glowing moment of leadership, Gregotti as a director of Venice Biennale of 1975_©Adriano Alecchi


His ideas ranged into a wide spectrum, each of which had a differing frequency and a potential common thread with a purpose of social change. He portrayed a diligent attitude and a commitment to build a society where constructive change was more pronounced. Let us look at the various ideas he practiced and highly believed in.

Multidimensional School of Thought

1. Generative Ideology

Tracing back to 1975, Vittorio Gregotti was serving as the director of the Visual Arts section for the Venice Biennale. He initiated and carved out a space for architecture within the biennale and this small gesture of his stamped a sign of stable permanence for architecture in the realm of exhibitions. It further included the study of the cities and the built environment. 

Vittorio Gregotti worked with a wholesome ellipse of a generative spirit around him. He initiated ideas that evolved into a significant medium for expression of the fraternity.

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The first exhibition pioneered by Vittorio Gregotti_©La Biennale di Venezia

2. Commitment to Constructive Social Change

Every project that Vittorio Gregotti worked on had an underlying driving purpose of social change. Ranging from books to articles to live projects that he designed, all of them had a focal factor. They were all instrumental in translating his revolutionary ideas into reality.

He worked as a leader in many places, of which the Italian Architectural Journal, Casabella is seemingly the most accessed platform that he used for expression. 

He curated discussions, debates and meticulously explored built form as a potent element of social change. His commitment to the same remained unwavering and timeless.

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Most revered element amongst Gregotti’s instruments of social change_©Casabella

3. Geography and Architecture

Architecture is a junction of varying passions like art, history, mathematics, and psychology but Geography is seemingly unusual. Vittorio Gregotti was extremely keen on blending the two arbitrary disciplines. He indulged and dissolved hours of time understanding and deciphering works of French geologists like Paul Vidal de La Blache, Maximilien Sorre, and Jean Brunhes to name a few. 

As much as he was interested in traversing geographies and plunging into lands inhabited, his forms never camouflaged. He made a conscious effort to establish a distinction in the context.

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A sample of a French Geography book_©Pinterest

4. Architecture and Territory

Vittorio Gregotti has posed innumerable complex ideas and this one remains to be a challenging one to comprehend. Gregotti was a post-war urbanist and he was tremendously interested in addressing the chaotic expansion of cities over the larger terrain. Territory according to him was an idea overlapped with history, geography, and the concept of Phylogeny. 

His readings are yet to be completely executed but researchers are working towards comprehending his intricate thoughts.

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A radical thinker in his habitat_©Adriano Alecchi

5. Transformative Ideology

On observation of all the structures Ar. Vittorio Gregotti designed a transformative reflection that is the only constant. He made conscious responsible decisions about the structure in a vast context. His designs always remained distinct, gleaming in brilliance. Noted projects: The Barcelona Olympic Stadium, the Arcimboldi Theater in Milan, the University of Calabria and many university campuses, the Cultural Centre of Belem in Lisbon. 

Inside architecture is his most celebrated book. He was a man who believed in constantly evolving and adapting to the transformative world. He charted out methods to appreciate the old and embrace the new and blended them to create some beautiful masterpieces.

Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys _©Sprok

Vittorio Gregotti was a terrific leader who consciously and rigorously worked towards society with multiple instruments such as architecture, literature, and design. Vittorio Gregotti is not just an architect but an embodiment of the Principles of Architecture; he was as complex and diverse as the subject itself. He was everything society demanded in his times.

A prolific leader who did not focus on just building a community but on beginning one.

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An epitome of excellence_©Pierluigi Cipelli


1.Alecchi, A. (1975). Italian architect and designer Vittorio Gregotti taking part as the director in the Venice Biennale of Architecture which has just been founded. Venice, 1975. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Vittorio_Gregotti_1975.jpg [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

2.La Biennale di Venezia (1975). The first exhibitions curated by Vittorio Gregotti. Available at: https://biennalewiki.org/wp-content/uploads/biennale-editions/mulino-stucky.jpeg [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

3.Casabella (1962). casabella continuità 1962. Available at: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81qGOTEhDgL.jpg [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

4.Pierre Foncin (1888). French geography book ” La deuxième année de géographie ” by Pierre Foncin. Available at: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/a3/53/12/a35312d5ccb1f2caa95ee11571e1ae03.jpg [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

5.Alecchi, A. (1975). Remembering Vittorio Gregotti: architect, thinker, Italian. Available at: https://cdn.wallpaper.com/main/styles/responsive_1460w_scale/s3/2020/03/go_obituary-italian-architecture.jpg [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

6.Sprok (2010). Interior of venue during the 2010 European Athletics Championships. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d8/Estadi_Ol%C3%ADmpic_Llu%C3%ADs_Companys.JPG/1280px-Estadi_Ol%C3%ADmpic_Llu%C3%ADs_Companys.JPG [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].

7.Cipelli, P. (2020). The legacy of Vittorio Gregotti. Available at: https://i0.wp.com/www.architect-us.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/16gregotti1-superJumbo-v4.jpg?fit=2048%2C1334&ssl=1 [Accessed 18 Apr. 2021].


Vajjrashri Anand is an architecture student who reads places and people like a story worth being told. She believes architecture is a lot like life; made of wonder, beauty and hurt. She strives to constantly evolve. A nuisance, a delight. A sting, a smile. She's a soul hugging one word at a time.

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