A LOVE PILGRIMAGE. Luigi Figini's Travels to Ibiza and the Lessons of vernacular Architecture
In 1950 Luigi Figini travelled to Ibiza. He named this journey a “love pilgrimage” to the most western of the “isole beate” (holy islands), to one of the earthly paradises of white architecture. It wasn’t the first such island he had visited since he has already travelled to others, such as Ischia, Procida, Capri, Santorini and the Greek islands, some years earlier. The diary of this Spanish journey, which was published the following year, has been scarcely analyzed and largely undervalued by both critics and historians. It is a passionate essay that, far from being only a documentary, a tourist guide, is a statement of his way to conceive architecture. At the same time it is a denunciation towards those who didn’t want to admit that Mediterranean vernacular architecture played an important role in the definition of some paradigms of modern architecture. What Figini recorded with his camera in the city of Ibiza, but also in S. Antonio Abad, S. Inés, S. Eulalia and S. Carlos, are examples of “humble and anonymous” houses and churches, details of walls, pergolas and roofs. In describing the grammar of these buildings’ simple language, Figini evokes evident analogies between them and some works of Le Corbusier and Breuer. Such comparisons were not yet new. Probably the Italian architect knew that his Spanish colleagues from G.A.T.E.P.A.C had done the same in 1930 when comparing a project of J. J. P. Oud to the fishermen houses in San Pol de Mar. For Figini the districts of Sa Penya and Dalt Vila were an ”historical museum of contemporary architecture built ante litteram”. The article considers Figini's journey to Ibiza comparing it to other travels on the island by some Spanish architects including José Luis Sert and the members of the G.A.T.E.P.A.C. It also demonstrates how, after the journey, the work of Figini-Pollini office was “contaminated” somehow by the lessons he learned from vernacular architecture: the lessons of “morality”, “logic”, “life”, and “style”.