ADS10: Savage Architecture: Forms of Gathering

Tutors: Gianfranco Bombaci, Matteo Costanzo & Davide Sacconi

This year ADS10 will continue to explore the idea of ‘Savage Architecture’ by using an anthropological lens to question the relationship between architecture and man. We will be look closely at the complex relationship between built form and the collective use of space, with the aim of proposing an architecture that challenges the norms and behaviours imposed by the current process of urbanisation. 

If contemporary architectural practice is completely identified with the management of resources – which is to say with purely economic practice – ADS10 maintains the relationship between man and architecture is founded on a political reason that exceeds a mere quantitative logic. At the root such relationship is not the provision of comfort and shelter, or the reproduction of wealth, but rather the human need to come together. Of engaging in collective rituals. Architecture provides the material and symbolic elements to satisfy this necessity.

2A+P/A and Gianpiero Frassinelli, The Central Archive, 2015
2A+P/A and Gianpiero Frassinelli, The Central Archive, 2015

At the very heart of our investigation is the built form – a form we believe expresses the idea of the collective in its cognitive, political and ritual aspects.

At the intersection between form as an object of knowledge, political decision and ritual action lies the notion of archetype, a paradigmatic form that governs the relationship between a collective subject and the space it occupies. The archetype is a way of thinking, a set of instruments and a method to produce architecture.

Using a wide array of tools – from drawings to models to images, texts and video – ADS10 will seek to untangle the complex relationship that occurs between the from of a building and its collective use.

Working at the intersection of curatorial and design practices, we strive to produce an architecture that has no ambition other than giving form to collective rituals and re-imagining the savage need to live together.

Themes

João Batista Vilanova Artigas, FAU USP, São Paulo, 1969
João Batista Vilanova Artigas, FAU USP, São Paulo, 1969

Archetype and Architectural Knowledge

One example of the archetype as a method for designing built form is the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU) of the University of São Paulo. Designed by João Batista Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi between 1960–69, the FAU is a variation on the archetype of the Monumental Cover. Yet the project draws also directly from the archetypes of the Temple and the Palace. The raised ground plane works as a stylobate, the encircling lines of columns as a peristyle and the abstract concrete roof as a pediment, providing all elements of the archetypical Greek Temple. At the same time, the internal void reinterprets the representational character of the Renaissance Palace courtyard, with the concrete ceiling grid providing a system of reference and measurement that further recalls the perspectival compositions of Renaissance paintings.

While the building provides space for the required uses and responds to political, economic and social constraints, its fundamental design elements are defined in relation to a common body of architectural knowledge, which is indifferent to contingencies since is is rooted in the anthropological relationship between man and built form. It is in this tension between the specific historical incident and the immanent power of form that the archetype emerges as a potential means for re-appropriating knowledge and space. The form exposes the tension between rule and life, between the needs and the desires of a collective subject.

Bernard Tschumi, Lerner Hall Student Center (Dance Performance), New York, 1999
Bernard Tschumi, Lerner Hall Student Center (Dance Performance), New York, 1999

Architecture and Collective Rituals

Architecture structures human activity by establishing a correspondence between the inherent rule of the form and the ritual actions of men. We walk along a portico, pass through a wall opening, rest under a canopy, gather in a square. Buildings and open spaces in the city become a scenery that gives form to our movement and our life.

Designed by Bernard Tschumi between 1994–99, the Lerner Hall Student Centre at Columbia University, New York, is a clear example of how architecture can elevate everyday actions into rituals and shape a collective subjectivity.

Tschumi’s building takes advantage of McKim, Mead and White’s original nineteenth-century checkerboard campus design by inhabiting – through a system of bridges and gangways – the gap between two existing volumes. The space of circulation, usually considered a functional element for the distribution of people in space, is purposely magnified to become a space of relationships – a stage that turns the movement of people into a collective ritual. Through simple formal and material choices, Tschumi’s building exceeds its functional purpose to become a form of representation of a collective subject, acquiring a political and social dimension.

Superstudio, Continuous Monument, 1971
Superstudio, Continuous Monument, 1971

Rome is not a Roman City

Rome is a city made of the juxtaposition of objects: circuses, theatres, forums, villas, aqueducts and all sorts of structures are placed side by side without a predefined and universal order. Like in a still life, forms establish relationships one with the other and with the landscape, exposing the tensions between the cosmological and universal dimension of the land and the becoming of human life. At the same time, each element gives form to a collective ritual, materialising the social, political and economic structure of the city.

By contrast, the cities designed during the era of  Roman Empire are based on the castrum – the military camp – and the predefined order of the grid. The Roman city is an expression of an extraordinarily efficient military machine and was conceived as an instrument of conquest, giving order to the unknown territory of the Empire. As such, it was a completely abstract model that could be endlessly expanded, or repeated in any condition or circumstance.

After becoming the capital of Italy in 1871, Rome expanded beyond the historical centre in response to its new political and economic role and the pressures of immigration. Urbanisation flooded the Campagna Romana, bursting out beyond the Roman Walls to take over renaissance villas, archaeological sites, former countryside towns and surrounding infrastructure. The city becomes a field of palazzine – the multi-storey apartment building that is the archetype of private speculation – organised in scattered, incomplete and largely illegal grids. Paradoxically, at that moment Rome became a Roman city, turning the city of collective rituals into a camp without cardus and decumanus, losing its unique  relationship between buildings and landscape.

Method

2A+P/A, Interior Tales Workshop, 2016
2A+P/A, Interior Tales Workshop, 2016

Working at the Intersection of design, curatorial and pedagogical practices, ADS10 proposes a specific method to confront the overwhelming possibilities that lie open before the architect. Rather than relying on the capacity of computation, the contingency of action or the creativity of perception, the studio proposes to use the power of the Archive.

Archives are constellations of objects, documents and information linked by a bond. They are the concrete manifestation of a specific field of enquiry, while also providing a position within this field. The Archive brings together the fiction of narratives, technical precision of models and the evocative quality of images and drawings to construct a detachment from historical reality. This detachment allows for a critique to be combined with the proposal of radical scenarios. As such, the Archive escapes the dangers of historicism and turns history into a horizon of liberation.

This year ADS10 will construct a common Archive from the study of a set of selected built forms. Our Archive will be an attempt to understand and elaborate on the notion of archetype. While belonging to different contexts and time periods, each selected architecture exemplifies a specific relation between form and ritual. Students will study and understand these examples in their form, construction and organization, with the analysis focusing on the relationship between space and use.

The investigation and construction of the collective Archive will provide a shared knowledge about how the Archetype can be employed as a method to consider and produce architecture.

Finally, these Archetypes will be applied in specific contexts. Archetypes are shaped by the contexts in which they are inserted, with this process of contextualisation turning these Archetypes into Projects.

James Turrell, Autonomous Structures, 1989-2010
James Turrell, Autonomous Structures, 1989-2010

Live Project

The Live Project is organized in partnership with the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, which will open in September 2019, and Modelab, an internationally renowned model-making workshop based in Rome.

Students will produce a set of drawings, models and images that expand on the idea of Savage Architecture. The material will be organised in a catalogue and exhibition that will be held first in London and then become part of the international selection of the Biennale of Seul 2019.

Studio Bernardo Secchi & Paola Viganò, Theaterplein, Antwerp, 2008
Studio Bernardo Secchi & Paola Viganò, Theaterplein, Antwerp, 2008

Tutors

Gianfranco Bombaci is an architect. He studied at Sapienza University, Rome, and KU University, Leuven, where he obtained a PhD in Environmental Design. In 1998 he cofounded 2A+P magazine and was a partner of the practice 2A+P architecture until 2008, when he founded 2A+P/A Associates. The office works on architectural, urban and landscape design with a particular interest in the nature and condition of the contemporary city. It engages in a broad range of activities including public and private buildings, housing complexes, urban spaces, event pavilions, temporary installations and interior design. Since 2010, Gianfranco has served as co-founder and editor of San Rocco magazine. In 2015, together with Matteo Costanzo, Davide Sacconi and Luca Galofaro, he founded the gallery Campo in Rome as a space for debate, study and celebrating architecture. He has taught in the Faculty of Architecture of Ferrara, in the Master In/Arch in Rome and in the School of Architecture, University of Miami, Rome. He teaches and coordinates the Interior Design BA Course at IED Rome.

Matteo Costanzo studied at La Sapienza University, Rome, Oxford Brooks University, Oxford, and the Netherlad Architeture Institute). In 1998 he cofounded 2A+P magazine and was a partner of the practice 2A+P architecture until 2008, when he founded 2A+P/A Associates. The office works on architectural, urban and landscape design with a particular interest in the nature and condition of the contemporary city. He has been a visiting critic and run workshops at several architecture schools, including: Istituto Europeo di Design; Istituto Nazionale di Architettura, Rome; Nuova Accademi delle Belle Arti and Domus Academy, Milan; Syracuse University, London; Cornell University, Rome; University of Miami, Rome; San Rocco Summer School at the University of Genoa; TU Munich; University of Liège; and at the Everything Out the door workshop at Campo, Rome. He teaches on the RCU (Radical Cut Up) at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and publishes widely.

Davide Sacconi is an honours graduate of the Università degli Studi di Roma Tre. He founded Tspoon Environment Architecture in 2004 – a research practice that has received awards in national and international competitions for architecture, landscape, urban design and editorial projects. He completed his postgraduate studies at the Berlage Institute, Rotterdam, and is currently a PhD candidate at the Architectural Association, London. He has taught at the University of Liverpool, The Bartlett UCL and is currently Director of the Syracuse Architecture London Programme.