SIGHT OF THE INVISIBLE CITY

In the late fifties takes shape in architecture, with different manifestations, a study of utopian and visionary character that reveals the need for new theoretical formulations after the rigidities of Rationalism and the shortcomings that most of the utterances of the Modern Movement were highlighted. It’s a period of conceptual re-founding with new languages through which expresses the desire to search for autonomous ways (Manfredo Tafuri, Francesco Dal Co, “International utopia”, Contemporary Architecture, Electa, Milan, 1976).

The methodology of this research does not ignore requests and appeals of society; rather derive from them inspiration and nourishment. The novelty lies in the different approach in researching the balance between form and function that had really characterized the previous generation (Dominique Rouillard, “Radical architecture”, in Tschumi, une architecture en projet: Le Fresnoy, ed. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris , 1993. See also “Stops / No-Stop-City,” in Cahiers Espaces et Paysages urbains No. 5, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 1996; “Territoire magique”, in Infrastructure, Villes et Territoires, L’Harmattan, Paris , 2000; Superstudio, Continuous Monument, 1969, conference held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, 14 May 2000, the version published in Le Moniteur architecture AMC, No. 115, April 2001). This necessity to reconcile poetry and practice, formal insights and functional needs, finally stifled creativity and spontaneity of language, forcing architecture in an anachronistic cultural situation compared with other arts.

The result is an experimental attitude completely independent from the previous legacy but rather registers, evolving them in harmony, both climate of linguistic and experimental renewal of other creative disciplines and mutation of culture and habit in the urban scene. The British group Archigram (Peter Cook, Archigram, Studio Vista, London 1972) for example, whose utopian design actually applies to big scale and new models of cities or
urban megastructure, is emblematic of this different attitude, which almost simultaneously will be manifest also in Austria, with Hollein (Gianni Pettena, Hans Hollein: Works 1960-1988, Idea Books, Milano 1988) and Pichler, and in Italy with Archizoom and Superstudio (Richard Dalisi – Necklace paths directed by Michael Costanzo, radically. Back to the hubs generative architecture, Kappa Editore, Roma 2004).

In the London of the early sixties the new figurative and expressive languages, especially  introduced by pop culture and adopted and disseminated by means of mass communication, had triggered an explosion of innovation and creativity in front of which the condition of architectural culture came to be marginalized because inadequate for the new urban reality, and therefore unable to affect an environment conditioned and determined by phenomena and models linked to mass culture (Dennis Crompton, Concerning Archigram Archigram Archives, London 1998). Archigram, with the courage of irony, conducts towards architectural discipline both conceptual resettlement and linguistic renewal: a kind of design able to accept and claim the ephemeral, the dynamic, the continuous and necessary flexibility and evolution of the functions of an urban environment, expressing in visually appealing languages of new media culture, sci-fi cartoons, colorful collages, mags in which texts are intertwined with pop representations (Reyner Banham, The vision of Ron Herron, Academy Editions, London 1994 ). What appeared particularly innovative in Archigram was the conscious transformation of architecture in pictures, as the voluntary demystification of the project as an  instrument of operation in architecture; in this radical approach they proposed themselves ,for the first time in an organic way, as initiators, surpassing even the Cedric Price’s position (Cedric Price, Re: CP, edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist with contributions by Arata Isozaki, Patrick Keiller and Rem Koolhaas, Birkhauser, Basel 2003) which basing his design on the criteria of indeterminacy, perishability and multi-functionality of space, still maintained a corporeal form of the project.

Corporeality that instead, in years to contemporary London trials of Archigram, it dissolves more and more in search of which you are a spokesman Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler Vienna with the express “absolute architecture” of ’63, in which the rejection of orthodoxy is radicalized to the exploration of those spiritual values, archaic and symbolic architecture that affect the very essence of living and communicating. So not only refused any functionalist and rationalist approach, but went much further, beyond any debate within the field and giving a central architecture that theoretically led to overcoming all barriers of space or time. With the statement that “everything is architecture” (“Absolute Architecture,” Radicals in architecture and design 1960-1975, edited by Gianni Pettena – VI International Exhibition of Architecture. Biennale di Venezia -,-fan, 1996, p. 242), both positive and negative, they cancel each border and interdisciplinary experimentation could also use languages that are seemingly distant from the project but who were intended to convey thoughts about the human condition, life, environment and city. In Austria, the search will take different capacities, from the visionary of the mega-structures of Raimund Abraham (Raimund Abraham: (a) built, Princeton University Press, 1995 – with an introductory essay by Norbert Miller, with contributions by John Hejduk et al -,) that progressively buy rarefied architectural form, the conceptual rigor and existential work of Pichler, translation of concepts in the form of architecture Hollein: will be manifested ‘in the form of drawings, performances, body art, installations spatial design environments and objects of architecture ‘possible’.

The conceptual approach of the early ‘radical’ Austrians will have great influence on the trial which will start in Italy with the exhibition ‘Superarchitecture’ (1966) Florence groups Superstudio and Archizoom (“The Superarchitecture architecture is the overproduction of superconsumption, superinduction of the consumer, the supermarket, the superman and super petrol. The Superarchitecture accepts the logic of production and consumption and is in action demisitificante. “From the Manifesto of the Second exhibition Superarchitecture, Modena 1967), and especially transpose the idea of the possibilities of interdisciplinary incursions of languages and methodologies as a tool for challenging the discipline. Perhaps it was also inspiring in involuntary Ettore Sottsass jr. (Stories and projects for an Italian designer: Ettore Sottsass jr four lessons., Edited by Anna Maria Mortarana, Alinea, 1983) that in the early sixties, was a firm foundation as an example, both operational and behavioral, the chance to ‘break’, to overcome the crystallization, the static nature of a discipline imprisoned the heritage of the Modern Movement.

The decade between ’65 and ’75 will be in Italy, a period of intense debate, of continuous critical reflection, engagement, by means of initiatives such as the disruptive XV Triennale di Milano where Sottsass, commissioner of the international section of design, Andrea Branzi together with the coordinator decided “not to present products but ideas,” thus legitimizing and even favoring the participation of ‘area in which radical, especially in the early seventies, with the heading “Radical notes” Branzi Casabella (No. 399 , March 1975), with the writings of Mendini and Rays, and the sequence of publications Sottsass, Superstudio, Archizoom, Petten, UFO, Dalisi (see covers and in magazines like Domus, Marcatré, Controspazio, Interior, Fashion, Designing more, residential, Planet Fresh, Flash Art, NAC), theory and experimentation should be incorporated within a common research platform in what is particularly Germano Celant proposed as a comparison of the visual arts, arte povera, conceptual and land art (Art and Architecture: sculpture, painting, photography, design, film and architecture: a century of creative projects, vol. 2 1968/2004, Skira, 2004).

Example of a courageous and radical, these experiments leave the merit of having attempted or suggested evasion horizons to other disciplines, to new frontiers.

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