I have been invited by Hiromi Hosoya and Markus Schaefer, founders of Hosoya Schaefer Architects, to participate at this year Salon Swisse and initiate an ambitious program of events focusing on questions around urban development in Switzerland and the increasing pressure of urbanization worldwide. An informal meeting in which I was invited to make a two minute statement.
Here it is:
“A couple of days ago somebody wrote that after forty years of agony, this Biennale is celebrating the end of our discipline as we were use to know it. I’d like to assume this, for a moment, as a fact, and in doing so I am very pleased to accept this invitation to look forward and to reflect upon the next 100 years scenario of our alpine city-state. By doing so I would like to address few routes in which, as architect, I am steering my way through these uncertain times and trying to open new paths that I consider worth to explore and look behind the columns, the walls, the corners, or the fundamentals of our discipline.
In order to explain this condition I have made a fantasy. I have imagined a mythological Hannibal coming back from Africa after two thousand years and, once again crossing the Alps with the elephants on his way to the east.
The bad news is that we have no idea about what will happen, but the good news is that Switzerland has the resources and the social infrastructure to reorganize itself and face the brutality of history at the doors. Someone said that we might be facing the end of capitalism. I rather to call it Hannibal and his elephants.
As architect I am trying to think architecture as tool to empower society as a whole. I produce urban devices. In the last five years (among other things) I have been aggressively involved in several urban agricultural projects at a different scale of intervention with the aim to not just to provide food within the city but as a way to “grow the city”. This is what an urban agriculture can do, overcoming the obsolete dichotomy between city and country side.
The territory is a whole. There is no territory without politics and there are no politics without territory. With urban agriculture we could provide food autonomy from small to large parts of the urban-rural population. This is, however symbolic, a strong political statement: a local act, a global thought and just an example of what an urban devices can do.
An urban device to “grow the city” should be easy, cheap and fast to build. It should be designed to be easily converted into something else when and if needed. It should be able to be dismantled. It should be generic but also poetic, as a cultivated open field can be. An urban device is a poetic urban act, an interpreter of our times.
What we need is an operating manual about how to use the fundamentals of our discipline and use them as tools to conquer our next 100 years.
Switzerland could be the perfect laboratory where to produce this kind of prototypes.
- RIKEA @ Squat City IABR International Architecture Biennale, Rotterdam.
- Harvesting Station, a Reclaiming Device for the Interstitial Spaces of the City.
- RIKEA Honorable Mention @ International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam.
- «Architecture. What Else?» An Architecture Exhibition in a Gas Station. (of Course)
- Campo Libero (The Innocent House), at the XV Venice Architecture Biennale.
- The Seventh Continent — Musings on The Plastic Garbage Project – Exhibition Review for Domus.
- READYKEA an Exhibition Device for DADA New York II: The Revolution to Smash Capitalism.
- RIKEA project was invited at Fama_Fame / Fame_Hunger: an In Progress Project which advances in situ by each exhibition.
- Generic Architecture as Strategic Design for Rooftop Urban Agriculture: Aquaponic Farm in Basel for Urban Farmers.
- City Talks: Metamorfosi Urbane.