The 10th episode of the ArchiTALKS leads us to know and deepen the long design, theoretical and experimental activity of the architect and designer Andrea Branzi, one of the fathers of modern design and of the Radical movement, who through this lesson leads us to the roots of an original and independent vision.
The lesson begins with an account of Branzi's childhood, his family and his hometown, Florence. The city on the Arno is a very fertile human territory for the architect's education in terms of influences, references, creative and political experiences. Indeed, within this framework, the Radical movement came to existence, of which Andrea Branzi is one of the protagonists, as founder of the Archizoom Associati group, together with Massimo Morozzi, Dario and Lucia Bartolini, Paolo Deganello and Gilberto Corretti. The Archizoom Group represented one of the leading avant-garde movements of the 1960s and 1970s, along with Superstudio, UFO, 9999 and Zziggurat.
Radical design was born as a young Italian movement, in particular in Florence, which placed itself in a critical way as to the canonical tradition of the professionalism of a historical period that was also quite provincial. […] Thus already during the last years of university sees what light that which will be called the group "Archizoom", as part of a juvenile framework that was very evolved, intellectually very rich. […] My friends and I were never the protagonists of a political conflict, but we were rather under the impression of having a very evolved political education, so it had nothing to do with the simplest dispute or controversy. […] We already had a strong intellectual maturity which stemmed also from random episodes, also of reciprocal stimulus, so in the end all these avant-garde groups we called “Radical” had a very rich conceptual, experimental, human literature.
Based on this, the lesson deals with the themes and characteristics of the Radical movement, of a research "not against something but in favor of" a renewal in the different fields of art: "we were in favor of the new space, the new relationships, the new languages, the influence of new music, the new fashion, and the new art."
What emerges are the central questions of the architect's activity: the writing, the lack of method, the continuous research, the experimentation, the creative activity far from the logic of the market. The key element - the rule - is the exaggeration, by improvising and surprising as a necessary condition and as a reaction to a certain type of world, because:
For the design, there is no explicit methodology: it arises from research, from the new relationship, from unexpected mental possibilities
If a subject is incapable of producing exaggeration, surprise, and new knowledge, he is already screwed in advance, because he limits growth and maturity. Exaggeration is part of science, not of pure and simple knowledge, so it is essential to avoid coding a result permanently and stably.
This effort is evident in the design, like the “Safari” and “Superonda” sofas
Where there was an investigation into the codes of unpleasant objects, to attempt parting from the standard "good design" aesthetic tradition." [...] Why should we always work, as it happened with classic design, according to elegance, refinement, functionality? Why don't we try to include more unpleasant things, but characterized by a more powerful expressiveness? [...] The world is composed of pleasant and unpleasant objects, and when you live only with pleasant things, there is the risk of going haywire, always investigating sterile and monotonous territories.
Branzi's words thus manage to tell not only a time, but a way of looking at things and thinking, opening up to the projects that have characterized his work experience: from the idea of the continuous city - the No-Stop City - to design, up to the new urban visions that propose a coexistence between humans and animals.
In particular, the "No-Stop City" model
Arises from an intuition of the Archizoom group to overcome the traditional limits of compositional architecture, in order to become an unlimited narrative territory, overcoming professional limits, becoming a sort of philosophical narrative of the universe built closer perhaps to scientific thought than to pure and simple creativity. [...] An unlimited world without a perimeter, which corresponds to a concept that has a continuous expansive process, which is not easy to describe but very simple to interpret when it occurs.
The ArchiTALKS concludes, then, focusing on the figure of the architect, reflecting on the teaching and on the present of art and architecture.
According to Branzi:
Art produces signals and messages that are permanently useless. Once upon a time art had tendencies, styles, narrations, then it progressively disengaged. Today for example art doesn’t express anything other than itself: as if it was in a mirror, it doesn’t have a collective function, it has no relationship. This is very interesting: an art that never repeats itself. If you think about the Venice Biennale, it’s made of a number of events that cannot be compared and do not want to be compared. Architecture itself today has to ascertain that there are no two identical buildings, each one is an exception, just like in art, poetry or music there are no two identical pieces. Each one produces its own emotional and cognitive event, but there is no sum, it’s dispersed in a vacuum: this seems very interesting, although it no longer corresponds to old codes, but it opens infinite more.