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

  • ACTIVATE VANGUARD ANTHEM FORCE

    "We want our identity and the viewer’s to be forgotten." Art collective ASSUME VIVID ASTRO FOCUS discuss a summer of love in Berlin and their exhibition at PERES PROJECTS. More
  • Topheadz

    To them, work is gliding over the surface of the world – over water on a surfboard; through powder on a snowboard; above concrete on a skateboard. They always make sure to take enough of every drug, to avoid getting trapped between worlds. But skating takes them somewhere you can't go synthetically. They call themselves Topheadz, and they are traceable only by their bespoke hearts. KATE BELLM photographs the skate collective's amphibious protagonists.More
  • Deeper

  • ALL A DAT ALL A DAT: Rap Crew 67 Can Make Anything

    Members ASAP, Monkey, LD, Dimzy, Liquez, and SJ are branching out. “67 can release rizla,” says LD ahead of the UK drill collective’s appearance this weekend in Berlin. “Not everybody can do that. A lot of people are just rappers.”More
  • 032c Resist Collection

    032c Resist Pin

    €10
  • David Ostrowski Brings Bauhaus to Warsaw’s Galeria Wschód

    The painter David Ostrowski has been off the radar for the last few years. A former student of Albert Oehlen and graduate of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Ostrowski is best known for his large abstract paintings, which often include the use of spray cans and a formalistic approach to shape. Now he's back, with a new body of work and two shows – the first of which opens in Warsaw at the progressive gallery space Wschód this weekend.More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB Rugby Shirt Black

    €115
    Buy Now
  • Anders Haal and Nicole Walker Imagine Total Fluidity on Humanity’s Next Planet

    The late Stephen Hawking was convinced that humanity's time on Earth was coming to a close, and proposed Proxima Centauri b as a second planetary home. The transition off-world is one subject in a new fashion book by stylist Nicole Walker and Anders Haal, founder of Stockholm-based fashion label HAAL, that considers the illogic of borders on a cosmic scale. Here we preview the book's opening visual essay.More