Is Utopia guilty pleasure?

C a r m e l o     B a g l i v o 

 

EDEN, Utopia and accumulation.  

 

In a recent article, published in the number of vice versa "The topicality of Utopia" (n°6 July 2017), I wrote about the Western Catholic culture, to which I belong, that kills and revives the Utopia at a time when Adam and Eve were forced out of Eden.

The Utopian thought has created and destroyed the Eden and still, it creates the new world and the new man.

Man, imagining his own creation, destroys and reconstructs Utopia.

In the Garden of Eden there is no architecture because there is no need; now, in the new World, architecture becomes the tool to build and imagine it.

Architecture to take refuge, to accumulate, to build cities, to define symbols.

Architecture is the instrument of Utopia and aims to recapture that lost harmony and the construction of the world.

Man, with his architecture, never abandoned the aspiration to regain the Garden of Eden.

The city and its Utopias grow and, like the Tower of Babel, accumulate in an organic transformation of its texture.

The superposition of different textures goes from being spontaneous, coming from the bottom, to being ideologically planned, coming from the top; Here Utopia is at the service of ideology.

Utopia-Ideologized represents power and builds barriers between the before and after, the new and the old, between them and others.

The natural process of building on the Utopias of others is transformed into the zeroing of the Utopias of others through destruction and reconstruction, violent processes that are against the natural process of accumulation.

Accumulation is the law of the natural growth of things; Things are piling up and transforming; destruction and reconstruction make no sense and need a high need for energy.

Utopia is no longer creating the new from nothing, but is accumulating on what already exists.

The Utopia has paradoxically a place: At this point, the story resumes to follow its flow where the sense of guilt and the failure no longer exist.

Accumulating means using what we have. How to think the new, or how to grow it, change it or using what we have?

The accumulation as a form of man-made growth linked to the history of the places, things and people. It is a way of developing the common world in many civilizations. Rewrite on what we have where the rewriting process brings the new without destroying the old. The accumulation as the main strategy of making contemporary architecture. Designing means layering. Stratify means creating. Create means to grow.

What are the different forms of accumulation? Such physical forms and shapes without such provisional physicality and objects?

Accumulation could be an informal collection as unplanned use of a place, as temporary and creative occupation.

Using a place means to build a memory and leave traces on it. Using a place means to re-think it, to make it personal, to occupy it. This goes beyond the concept of public space which we are commonly used to consider.

That kind of public space identifies itself with a certain kind of program and typology strictly codified in which the community identifies itself.

Accumulating means formulating the relationship with history. Formulate the relationship with our teachers.

 

Lower architecture and upper architecture.

Lower architecture is anchored to the tracks (roots) while upper one is free to express itself. Yona Friedman, in the space city, designs a structure that covers parts of the city without touching the ground. In my opinion, upper architecture is born from the lower one.

 

Accumulation as a planned strategy. Architecture as an unfinished work.

Spaces are available for possible growths and transformations. The Fun Palace of Cedric Price is a place where everything can happen. So everything can be created.

Accumulation as a ruins stratification. Poetics of the fragment.

The architecture has often used the ruin or its metaphor to question the discipline itself as did Piranesi’s Campus Martius. Using the ruin, Piranesi builds the foundations of modern architecture and its representation.

Campus Martius is the juxtaposition of the ruins. The different building typologies are flanked to form the generic city without a planned urban space.

The architectural object itself is at the same time full and empty.

Campus Martius is like a contemporary city where the full of buildings must also contain public space. The public space, thus, loses its freedom and uniqueness to become a temporary occupation of a "private" place.

So why not use ruin as a priority element to rethink architecture?

The ruin no longer seen as an exclusive and closed place, where the only purpose is to keep it and then show it to the tourists. The ruins are no longer that part of closed city, belong to the urban space and are founding element to rethink the city.

Perhaps today rethinking the ruins can bring back architecture to ground zero, cleaned up by all the accretions that have grown in recent years.

The ruin or monument belongs to the design and the design process is the operational instrument. Theory and practice, research and project overlap and Piranesi's engravings are the basis for new scenarios and readings of the past. Stratifications, juxtapositions and additions where the ruin is at the center of a place search process to identify new relationships and roles.

Fragments of different cities and different buildings coexist. Form new landscapes and scenery. The ruin is the raw material for new architectures that arise from the multiplication of the fragments and their juxtaposition.

The ruin is the place of subtraction. Subtraction as a design tool used by contemporary art in order to eliminate the superfluous. Removing just as adding.

Superstudio in the project "Salvataggio dei centri storici" marks the end of the monument as an untouchable object.

As a work to be preserved, everything is in a design process. Society does not accept fetishes. The Coliseum is inhabited.

Returning on the Colosseum of Superstudio we approach the monuments as "alive" and modifiable objects. Monuments no more untouchable.

The places of the ruin are also the places of the empty space. Seemingly unformed and indefinite, throughout their history, Rome and Berlin had experienced times in which empty spaces were more than the occupied ones. Rome after the Empire and Berlin after the Second World War. Two epochs very far apart, but crossed by empty spaces: Roman countryside and the No-man-land in Berlin. Sudden openings and changes of perspective. But marked by a common fate: fill the gaps.

Accumulation produces hybrid buildings.

Hybrid buildings are the result of a simultaneous coexistence of functional and formal autonomous typologies. Different architectural objects are made up in new configurations while keeping their identities alive.

This attitude is radicalized in mega-structures projects and in the Metabolist architecture.

Architecture positively thinks to include an entire city within a building and its unpredictable dynamics along with its victories and failures: Corviale in Rome is a notorious example: an unsolved building where the idea of the city never worked.

The self-contained building has difficulty in surviving. It must contain functions capable of enlarging its target group, functions that have an extended value to the whole city.

But a city building is not completed with primary functions related to market imperatives. It must contain features capable of expanding the target group, functions that have a value for the whole of city.

Accumulation and structures. No-iconic buildings expanded, modified and waiting to be colonized.

The building does not respond to the growth of the city but is expected to be transformed.

Bare structures. The architecture reduced to its structural essence, naked.

We can define the accumulation as the only form of growth that can contain and transform everything; Accumulate also contains the utopias of others. Thus Utopia becomes collective and inclusive. Utopia is not an island but becomes an archipelago where everyone can live.

Carmelo Baglivo studied Architecture at "La Sapienza" University, Rome. He worked for Max Dudler in Berlin and for Massimiliano Fuksas in Rome. In 1992 he won an international competition published by the Municipality of Rome for the Eastern Office District. In 1994 he took part in the 6th International Seminar "Naples Architecture and City". 

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