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Italian legislation gets better with age

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letters

Thanks to my dual architect's registration (uk and Italy), I have the doubtful privilege to receive from time to time various communications and correspondence from the respective institutes: the riba and the Ordine degli Architetti di Genova (the Italian Institute being subdivided into metropolitan areas), and of course the arb. What prompts me to write to you is the following government notification, duly reported in the latest Genovese bulletin:

'From: The Cultural & Heritage Ministry

Date: 10 August 1998

Object: Exclusive Architect's Role in the Restoration of Listed Buildings (law 1089/1939)

This is to confirm that I have given instruction that this authority will carry out a verification so that compliance with the above law is maintained and the Royal Decree rd 23.10.1925 is adhered to when for instance any applicant submits an inquiry in this respect etc.

Signed, The Officer in charge etc.'

Generally I am inclined to refrain from making direct comparison between the two institutes, the two countries or indeed the two national football teams, and in this spirit I would like to elaborate on the above. Firstly I would highlight the date on the letter, just to dispel the myth that nothing happens in the month of August in Italy. Secondly, but no less importantly, the reliance on vintage or even pre-republican legislation shouldn't go unnoticed, showing the ingenious attachment to those archaic but rather comforting franchises.

For the benefit of those less familiar with things Italian, let me tell you that this must be seen in a context where, for instance, any and all drawings submitted for a planning application must be signed and stamped by a registered professional, so this decree's purpose is to further restrict to chartered architects any dealing with listed properties.

Leaving to one side the complex debate on the now-defunct professional monopoly etc, may I ask you, in the light of the long- debated European harmonisation process across professions, including architecture, which of the two positions will ultimately prevail: the Latin traditional stand (and with it the 1925 decree), or the Anglo-Saxon de-regulative enthusiasm (or obsession)?

GENNARO PICARDI

By e-mail

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