Superstudio & Archizoom 1968-1972

From XIV Milan Triennale to the new domestic landscape: “If design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design.” A portrait of the architectural groups ARCHIZOOM and SUPERSTUDIO.

When students stormed and occupied the XIV Milan Triennale in 1968 before it opened, the end of architectonic modernism was also postponed. Curator Giancarlo de Carlo had gathered his colleagues, the critics of modernism known as Team 10 (Peter and Alison Smithson, Aldo van Eyck, and Shadrach Woods) – for a last appearance together at this exhibition of architecture. The protesting students demanded – with the support of those exhibiting work – a sense of social responsibility from the designers and a farther reaching critique of existing power relations. This somewhat internal clash of critical attitudes led to a radicalization of radical architects, peaking with striking impact in the work of groups of architects critical of capitalism such as Archizoom and Superstudio. Founded in Florence in 1966, Archizoom and Superstudio were intensively continuing the modernist project of the technologization and collectivization of space.

page_issue6_superstudio_pic_3

“If design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of the bourgeois models of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities – until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then design must disappear. We can live without architecture.” (Adolfo Natalini, Superstudio, AA London 1971) This is an exact restatement of the modernist project of design: a functional design meant to serve lives, a design refusing all socio-cultural concerns. It avoids terms of power and authority, because it’s purely technical, because it does not form and tends to transcend itself in its ramifications.

page_issue6_superstudio_pic_2

This conception of a complete technologization of the environment, as immaterial as possible, is in line with early modern attempts at functionally mechanizing space. Living in the 1920s was to have become instrumental so that it could make room for a collective living. Built spaces were to have become less important the more optimally they were organized and the more they were relieved of functions, making them more effective for social production and use. Modernism, then, ultimately linked the hope for overcoming competitive capitalism with a cooperative economic system. Technology and collective production would reduce individual work time so that a collective, useful and emancipatory leisure time would ensue. The large machines necessary for this, such as the nursery, the collective kitchen and the centralized vacuum cleaner, appear at Superstudio as the only homogeneous proposed space. With their film project “Superexistence” for the legendary exhibition “The New Domestic Landscape” at the MoMA in New York in 1972, Superstudio illustrated a space of possibility that had overcome all other hierarchical or alienated relations. Along with production, consumption also loses its threat as an extended form of exploitation or reproductive activity. This is also inherent in the project “No-Stop City” in which Archizoom refers to the factory and the supermarket as power-free zones, free of any sort of limitations. The paradisiacal functionalism of the grid and the absence of architecture overcomes all separation and alienation towards an absolutely untroubled freedom of will.

page_issue6_superstudio_pic_1“Architecture must be regarded as a neutral system, available for undifferentiated use, and not as an instrumentality for the organization of society; as a free, equipped area in which it may be possible to perform spontaneous actions of experimentation in individual or collective dwelling.” (Archizoom, in: The New Domestic Landscape, New York 1972).

By JESKO FEZER

 

Related Content

  • JOHN GRAY: Post-American Age

    “The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American dominance is over,” says JOHN GRAY. The prominent British philosopher and historian sits down with HANS ULRICH OBRIST to discuss the cult of belief, the death of utopia, and the enduring legacy of the last superpower.More
  • DARKNET

    MALGOSIA BELA in an editorial shot by ZOË GHERTNER and styled by MEL OTTENBERG.More
  • Deeper

  • FRANK OCEAN: The Artist is Absent

    Last month Frank Ocean's album Blonde was certified platinum, breaking one million units sold in an age when nobody seems to be paying for music. But the psychedelic future soul of Frank Ocean has always been about meaning, not numbers. For our Winter 2017/18 issue, music journalist Alex Needham got to the heart of Blonde in "The Artist is Absent," a feature accompanied by a photo editorial shot by Petra Collins and styled by Mel Ottenberg. "Once you let it in," Needham writes, "Ocean's thoughts and emotions are transmitted to you on such an intimate level, they seem to suffuse your central nervous system."More
  • Beatriz Colomina on “Portable Utopias” at Eurozine:

    “Struggle in the street was combined with otherworldly utopias in the low budget, small circulation architectural magazines of the 1960s and 1970s. Free of the constraints of finance and convention, the genre served as an international platform for experimental design and discourse and was instrumental in the progress of architectural modernity.”

  • Apparel

    032c "Frank Ocean" Transfer Kit

    €15
    sold out
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB Writer's Belt

    €130
    Buy Now
  • “Artists, of course, have always liked to think of themselves as rebels but, the truth is, as long as art remains a prestige economy of the free market — a glitzy barnacle on the side of global finance — it cannot be an effective tool for political change. The best it can hope to do is comment on the political situation after the fact, ‘thematize’ it as it unfolds, or in rare, purely serendipitous cases, anticipate it.”

    Anna Khachiyan, “Art Won’t Save Us” on Open Space

  • Half a Century of Civilian Sketches from the UK’s UFO Desk

    One Sunday in 1952, Lieutenant John Kilburn of the Royal Air Force noticed an unidentifiable silver object, “swinging in a pendular motion . . . similar to a falling sycamore leaf.” The sighting prompted the opening of the UK's Unidentified Flying Object department within the Ministry of Defence, a desk which collected sketches and reports from members of the public, collected here in a hysterical architecture of the British collective unconscious.More
  • 🚨 RE-STOCK 🚨 DIY Branding Kit #3: 032c Laces ⛸ 👞 👟

    Attention to detail is the heart of obsession. At the moment, we at 032c are tied up with our signature shoelaces. Originally produced for Avi Gold’s Better Gift Shop™ Hot Dog Installation at Dover Street Market, Ginza, our “DIY Branding Kit #3: 032c Laces” are available again from our online store in black or red. Now any shoe can become a 032c shoe. Trail boots? Sure. Brogues? Absolutely. Ballet flats? Why on Earth not.

  • Apparel

    032c Resist Socks

    €20
    Buy Now
  • Surprisingly slick art direction from the chaotic world of hardcore punk

    Deliberate art direction may seem out of scope for a scene known for crude songwriting and in-your-face lyrics, but the most impactful bands of the hardcore spectrum have often been those who opt for a considered design direction to accompany their impulsive music. And in a world that rewards a “no fucks given” attitude, a punk band having a glossy art direction is pretty damn punk.More
  • Apparel

    032c "First Issue" T-Shirt

    €50
    Buy Now
  • COME ONE

    COME ALL

    TRAVIS SCOTT’S ASTROWORLD HAS DROPPED.

    Read the 032c interview here or in full graphic splendor in the Summer 2018 issue. Still want more Travis? We’ve got leftover cover fly-posters at our online store.

  • A public service announcement from TRAVIS SCOTT in 032c’s Summer Issue 2018:

    “TO ALL THE FANS THAT COME FROM MILES, I HAVE BEEN WORKING VIGOROUSLY ON MY ALBUM THAT HAS MADE MY BRAIN MORE RADICAL EVERY TIME I PLAY IT. IT MAKES STORMI HIT THE MOONWALK EVERY TIME I HIT PLAY. AND IT’S SOMETHING I PLAN ON DELIVERING TO THE FANS AT ULTIMATE HIGH VOLUME. COME ONE. COME ALL. BE PREPARED TO RAGE AND LEAVE IT OUT ON THE FLOOR. THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT FROM ASTROWORLD.”

    Read the INTERVIEW, buy the POSTER, get the ISSUE.