Maria Alessandra Segantini: Future Heritage

wooden building constructed of slats of reddish wood

Work by Maria Alessandra Segantini. photo / provided

Combining academic research and practice as the codirector (with Carlo Cappai) of C+S Architects (Venice and London), Maria Alessandra Segantini has won a series of international competitions and built projects at all scales, from landscape to urban design, architecture, interior, and product design. She was awarded the Special Prize of the Gold Medal of Italian Architecture in 2012 and in 2006 for Education, the In Opera Award 2012, the Selection in the European Mies van der Rohe Award 2009, the Sfide 2009 Prize of the Italian Ministry of Landscape and Environment, the FarbDesignPreis 2009 honorable mention, and the AR+D Award 2008 honorable mention.

Segantini was recently invited to exhibit at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Her works have been published internationally and presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; in the eighth, 12th, 13th, and 14th Venice biennales of architecture; and at MIT in Boston, the Triennale of Milan, the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris, the Architekturzentrum in Wien, and the RIBA in London, among others.

Segantini has lectured at several prestigious international universities such as Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Cornell and Syracuse universities; RISD; Cambridge University and the University of Bath in the U.K.; Hasselt University in Belgium; Università Iuav di Venezia in Venice; the universities of Alghero, Ferrara, and Roma La Sapienza in Italy; and Moratowa University in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is also a visiting professor at MIT.


Most of the places C+S Architects has visited and chosen to design preserve traces manifesting concepts that heritage values have resisted. In some cases, these appear as strong, permanent, and consolidated features. In others, they appear just as a thin filigree.

C+S Architects approaches the places they decide to design in a similar way to how translators approach the texts they love — by investigating, listening, and building within them an empathetic dialogue, while bridging them to a different time.

What the firm has defined as translation architecture is more of a dialogue suspended in time, a disciplined sensitivity towards the contexts, which informs and conforms to the chosen spaces.

The designs of C+S Architects critically evaluate the context, understanding the potential energy of the built and unbuilt environment, and the people searching for moments of accumulation of value, knowledge, and desire. They design a map of potentials — a tool that reveals the intersections and interferences between a series of different layers and directs the choice of their action into these very special moments of accumulation.

They design their architecture interventions as grafts, interferences suspended within and between the space and time, stratified on the built and unbuilt landscapes, combining the past, the present, and the future.

The formal resolution becomes a sort of durable frame, open to future transformation, often leaving the sites themselves and the programs (or part of them) open to manipulation and adaptation.

A continuous and vital transformation of the context is considered its identity.

C+S Architects molds the future heritage and this is a fundamental responsibility of their work.