Architectural proposals, texts and visual documents shown in this double exhibition come from various stories and temporalities. Savage Architecture unveils an approach that covers almost 50 years (1968-2015) comprising prophetic texts and architectural projects while Freeport – The Archive as Urban Catalyst conveys the development of a reflection through the framework of an academic year.
Initiated since his diploma project in Florence in 1968, the approach of Gian-Piero Frassinelli lead to a recent culmination point through the design of two architectural proposals in association with 2A+P/A ; a synthetic case-study exercise aiming to give shape to a critical thinking that evaluates fundamental relashionship between humankind and architecture. Those two projects share a common ground with the project developed by Love di Marco : the principle of archiving as museum display. In the background of this idea lay fundamental notions related to the conservation of memory and the construction of a collective narrative.
In a very unusual manner when considered from a historical and museographical perspective, each of those projects develops a direct relation to an entire set of objects or artwork from a collection. The narrative as well as the experience related to artefacts is therefore drastically modified since the curatorial intermediate fades out. It is about the disappearance of the canonical role of mediation that those projects unfold on the one hand.
On the other hand, the peculiar architectural form of the projects – warehouses rather than museums – generate questions related to iconic representation and symbolic dimension of what is a museum – both as an interior experience as well as the physical presence within the surrounding environment. Unlike the ‘White Cube’ (interior neutral apparatus aiming for a clinical display of artworks) and contrary to an ‘Architectural Gesture’ (strong présence of an iconic object within the city fabric – cfr the Bilbao effect), both projects unfold a basic infrastructural logic in order to provide harsh discovery and intimate experience of history, culture and art.
Freeport – The archive as urban catalyst
Project by Love Di Marco
Gian Piero Frassinelli (Superstudio)
Gianfranco Bombaci and Matteo Costanzo (2A+P/A)
Davide Sacconi (curator)
Savage Architecture is a journey to the root of the relationship between architecture and man in four episodes. Departing from Frassinelli’s unpublished graduation thesis for an Anthropology Research Center (1968), lingering on the dystopian and revealing scenarios of The Twelve Ideal Cities (1972), the trajectory culminates in the recent collaborative projects of Frassinelli and 2A+P/A for the Budapest Ethnographic Museum (2014) and the Central Archive of Human Cultures (2015).
This fifty years-long journey among different experiments unveils the foundations of a project alternative to the current blind faith in the economic and technological reason. The anthropological gaze gives form to an architecture that is savage because it refuses to impose the power of reason over the symbolic, animal, vital and therefore political dimension of man.
Savage is an architecture that rejects the domestic man, refusing to impose the power of reason over his animal, symbolic and vital element; a project that imagines forms, mechanisms and narratives to expose the irreducible dichotomy of mankind and frame the violence inherent in human relationships.
Savage Architecture at its core, is the difficult yet necessary achievement of a field of tensions between control and freedom, narrative and technology, individual expression and collective rituals. A project that, conscious of the violence inherent in human relationships, imagines mechanisms and narratives to give form and value to irreducible dichotomies of mankind.
The recent collaboration between Gian Piero Frassinelli – founder of the Florentine collective Superstudio – and 2A+P/A – architectural practice based in Rome – relaunch a long-established yet generally overlooked debate on the relationship between architecture and anthropology. Moving away from an historical or scientific perspective to embrace the point of view of the project, the exhibition Savage Architecture genealogically reconstructs the ethos of such collaboration
Freeport – The Archive as Urban Catalyst is a project developed by Love Di Marco during the academic year 2015-16 at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, under the direction of Peter Swinnen and Flavien Menu — Unit Intermediate 13.
Once an important cultural and political symbol, centrally located and accessible to the public, the European archive is now a private affair, hidden behind closed facades on the peripheries of our cities. Its epitome is the typology of the Freeport, which forms a network of tax-free havens for the storage of art and other valuables for the ultra-rich. Exchanging power for profit, they are European places of exemption, bypassing both financial reality and spatial context.
With public cultural infrastructure facing an economical crisis globally, might it be worthwhile to look to this passive, brutally economical typology from a more social point of view, to find a way of activating its potential as a catalyst for change?
Through a mutually beneficial partnership, the Freeport injects a new economy into a site, allowing it to be activated for public use. The existing facilities, in turn, become ideal platforms for temporary display, augmenting the value of their content. Looking beyond mere design solutions, the architect facilitates an unorthodox partnership that is neither social nor liberal, but that could nevertheless be truly productive.
Brussels, a city whose collection of modern art has been taken hostage for almost a decade, is the perfect guinea pig for such an experiment.