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One of the slogans of this year's Lisbon Architecture Triennale, titled Close, Closer, is: 'The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things'. (Most people would probably associate birth and new life with something more lively than those inanimate 'new things' of Beatrice Galilee and her team.) There is something desperate about this slogan, which in the end is nothing but the same old song that the new things are treated unfairly by an old bonesí network.
If old isn't opposed to new but to young, it seems that it is possible to be old and new at the same time. Take the venerable magazine Domus. Here a new thing, Joseph Grima (who was on the selection committee for the director of this Lisbon Triennale) has had to give way to the old and ossified, who claim that they will give the magazine a new lease of life: Nicola di Battista, and a board of masters, Kenneth Frampton, Werner Oechslin, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Hans Kollhoff and David Chipperfield. Their new adventure is called simply New Domus. For the top echelon of a communist party they are still pretty young, and for Italian professors as well. (Italy is the only place where I am still introduced as a young critic to students half my age by professors old enough to be my father). But with an average age of 67 this Domus team must meet a few people's definition of ossifiedly-old.
The predictable disparaging comments about the return of this old guard at Domus abound. And itís true, Grima did a great job, offering the living proof that being young or old does not really matter as long as you are good. But why this negativism about the new old wise men? The older I get the more suspicious I become about this reaction. And let's face it, isn't this just envy? In the hypothetical case that you, reader, were to receive a similar invitation as a septuagenarian, I bet you wouldn't say, 'No, thanks for asking, but Iím feeling slightly too ossified'?