23 June 2009

Fumata nera, fumata bianca

During a weekend trip to Leipzig a couple of weeks ago I was baffled by the quantity of chimneys dispersed all around the dismissed and not so peripheral industrial areas of the city, which seems fortunately interested in reusing the majority of the buildings, factories etc. for different uses (the main industrial complex is now a collective “atelier” of artists and craftsmen). Most of all, these factories lie along a very nice water canal, that, if once upon a time was just a matter of usefulness, today constituted a pleasant pedestrian promenade.

Place de la concorde, Paris, images by Marco Capitanio

Relics of industrialization, victims of the “shrinkage”, I started to think how one could use effectively chimneys in an active way: what if they could be used as modern obelisks, with the function of urban “arrows” that Sixtus V gave them in the 16th century in Rome? What would think Domenico Fontana, who won the competition to place the obelisk in St. Peter’s square, employing for his effort 44 winches, 140 horses and 907 workmen?

 St. Peter's square, Rome. The chimney could even be used, with the white and black smoke, during the papal election..!

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