AGATHÓN | International Journal
of Architecture, Art and Design
ISSN (online) 2532-683X
ISSN (print) 2464-9309
POSSIBLE AND PREFERABLE SCENARIOS OF A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE | TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYONDVol 8 (2020)
AGATHÓN issue number 8 is a collection of essays, studies, researches, and projects on the subject ‘Possible and Preferable Scenarios of a Sustainable Future – Towards 2030 and Beyond’. The investigation of the future is a subject of sustained interest for the Academy and the craft and industry worlds. We have entered the third decade of the new millennium, and we must certainly reflect on the objectives we had set for 2020, on the results we have achieved and mostly on the ones we have not achieved. We must be aware that already by 2030 the world will be profoundly different. The main intellectual and scientific contributions of our time underline agree the four factors – technology, the globalized market, the environmental issue and health – that affect the most our planet are pressing at the same time, with inevitable consequences. The 17 2030 Sustainable Development Goals presented by the United Nations. By now it is clear that the future of our planet, its landscapes, cities, architectures and man-made products will mostly depend on the decisions we make today, on our level of ‘competence’, ‘vision’, and ‘forethinking’, on how we will deal with the subjects of sustainability, mitigation, adaptation (in their broadest meanings) with respect to the goals set. Going beyond 2030 and imagining 2050, we will certainly have to deal with a population growth that will reach ten billion people, 75% concentrated in cities and urban areas (United Nations, 2019). Therefore, the cities of the future, and their scenarios will become crucial elements for the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the whole planet.
Some of the several questions raised by the Call were answered in the published contributions. In the ‘Focus’ section, the introduction essays report the personal contribution of the scholars we have invited as experts on the subject: Carlo Ratti (Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Daniele Belleri (Design Editor at CRA – Carlo Ratti Associati), Lavinia and Thomas Herzog (Professor Emeritus of Excellence at the Technische Universität di Monaco di Baviera), Dario Russo (Professor of the University of Palermo) and Massimo Moretti (Founder of WASP), Patrick Thépot (Professor at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture of Grenoble), Françoise Blanc (Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture of Toulouse).
In the light of published contributions, we can affirm that a vision of the sustainable future of living, by looking at the two time horizons of 2030 and 2050, will be played on increasingly synergical work aimed at providing answers to the ten main macro-questions: 1) ecological transition and increase in environmental quality; 2) transition to the green economy and effectiveness and circularity in the use of resources; 3) mitigation and adaptation to climate change, towards total carbon neutrality; 4) bioclimatic, energy efficiency and renewable sources, towards the model of positive energy cities; 5) progressive reduction of land use, towards the ‘zero land use’ model; 6) dialectic between globalization and glocalization; 7) digital transition, enabling technologies and opportunities linked to Data Science systems and to Industry 4.0; 8) interaction of the most advanced and diversified expertizes with increasingly smart communities, to share and include; 9) ‘polychrysis’ challenges originating from the pandemic and the threat of future pandemic forms; 10) innovation of ways and spaces of living, working, studying, producing, consuming and socializing, in a synergic and transversal interface ‘with’ and ‘between’ all the previous macro-issues. These issues, approaches and visions, therefore, are to be considered as active parts, not separate, of a strategic project constantly evolving and updating, considering them co-participating in the definition of scenarios. The transformation processes of our society are guided, nourished, characterized by them, to continue to imagine and build a more desirable future for our cities.
FROM MEGA TO NANO | THE COMPLEXITY OF A MULTSCALAR PROJECTVol 7 (2020)
AGATHÓN issue number 7 is a collection of essays, studies, research and projects on the subject entitled ‘From Mega to Nano: the Complexity of a Multiscalar Project’, inextricably linked to the ever-increasing request of trans and multidisciplinarity of the project. The ability of ‘change of scales’, work on more different scales – multiscalarity – create new ones or change the meaning of the scales commonly accepted, it is common practice in the approach to the project and has always concerned architects, engineers, designers and artists for the multiple symbolic and real meanings of the size of a territory, a city, an architecture and an object. The concepts of scale and size are fundamental to link, in a systemic point of view, the detail with the big picture, the detail with the group, to interpret and represent, to discretize and recompose elements and parts that stand in a hierarchy or interconnection relation, to investigate the physical and social, to outline critical issues and potential, but especially to establish the importance of relational aspects between the group and its component as a way to understand their identity, their nature and organization, their regulation rules and the role played in different contexts, namely the fundamental elements to identify the form and structure of a territory, a city, an architecture and an object.
The concept of scale in Architecture regulates the size of the anthropic space, always keeping human dimension as reference. The choice of the scale inevitably becomes a conceptual selection of what the project actually wants to represent. When using multiscalar representation, we try to show the complexity of reality, by using as many regulation criteria and specific evaluations as we can, not only by describing its size and geometric aspects but most of all by significantly highlighting its qualitative aspects and those related to identity, culture and history. This means that there is not just one scale to represent a territory, a city, architecture, an object or a detail; however, in terms of a necessary multiscalarity, the project chooses the most fitting scale to develop practices, on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, logically the scale influences the project: thanks to the progress of technology in the field of design at all levels, it is probably the component of the project on which the designer works the most, simultaneously coordinating real and virtual relations; these relations do not end when the form is created, but continue over time and modify the management of the object’s complexity.
The essays and research published show that if measuring, using the scale as a tool, means understanding the things in the world by establishing some differences, therefore ‘off-size’ can be the basis for new theoretical assumptions in which both the infinitely large (mega) and the infinitely small (nano) contribute to defining crucial topics, such as environmental, social and economic sustainability, resilience, territory government, the idea of space, aesthetics, use, development of new products, services and materials, etc. Therefore, the multiscalar approach can be considered as an important design working tool that, in a systemic point of view, can foster the proposal of adequate strategies for action and planning of sustainable actions, developing new methods, working techniques and shared measurements, through well-considered hierarchies of priorities necessary to optimize the choices of the project and to determine the reliable cost/benefit balances (especially of environmental nature).
RESILIENCE BETWEEN MITIGATION AND ADAPTATIONVol 6 (2019)
AGATHÓN issue 6, titled ‘Resilience between Mitigation and Adaptation’ collects reflections on environmental, climatic and anthropic changes that characterize the beginning of this millennium and that are an increasingly major subject in the international debate since they influence, on the one hand, the protection of territories, landscapes and fragile urban areas, on the other the uses, performance and efficiency of architectural artefacts and everyday objects. Moreover, the shortage of natural resources, the global economic crisis, mass migratory flows, and the unpredictability of seismic events, are a source of continuous instability which can be dealt only with ‘resilient thoughts’ capable of answering continuous or sudden changes.
Within a positive dynamic process, aimed at managing events and rebuilding a new balance (landscape, urban, architectural, economic, social, etc.), Resilience does not imply the restoration of an initial state, but the acquisition of a new balance and maintenance of functionality through two approach strategies. The first strategy is Adaptive, focused on the dynamic nature of operational methods – from ideational, compositional/design, to productive, realization, operational and management methods – in which all the elements of the built environment, from the territorial, urban and building scale, to the material and object scale, effectively adapt to new balances with higher performance levels; The second strategy is Mitigative, where research is directed to innovative technologies (process, project and products) aimed at risk prevention and minimizing any impact – concerning disturbing events due to environmental, seismic, anthropic and social change – and aiming at the realization of territorial urban systems, buildings, components, objects, and sensitive materials, with variable behaviour and in energetic-dynamic equilibrium with climatic and environmental changes.
In the published articles is widely highlighted, under various disciplinary and scientific facets, the pressing action of climate, environmental and anthropic changes on the environment in general, and in particular to the urban one. This issue of AGATHÓN contains varied methods, research, considerations and projects, all aiming both at adaptive Architecture and Resilience Design, focused on achieving a sustainable symbiotic relation between man and the Planet in which we live.
PRO-INNOVATION | PROCESS PRODUCTION PRODUCTVol 5 (2019)
The beginning of the third millennium has marked a period of unprecedented change for cities, architecture and product/visual design. Over the last two decades, economic, social and environmental causes have stimulated and conditioned research and production, directing them towards substantial paradigm changes, proposing new challenges to create more smart, more resilient, more responsive and adaptive, more efficient and more sustainable urban systems, buildings and objects – from nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) to Positive Energy Architecture (PEA) – designed and built faster, with lower costs and with a positive effect on the environment, society, health and productivity: more innovative, in a nutshell. It is a common knowledge that innovation is, now more than ever, the tool needed to recover from the global economic crisis, to aim for economic prosperity and quality of life improvement, to increase productivity, to foster competitiveness, to support the challenge of globalization and environmental sustainability, both at an ‘incremental’ level (improvement of an already existing production process) and ‘radical’ (to create a new unmatched method or production system).
In this regard, AGATHÓN deals with the subject of ‘Pro-Innovation | Process Production Product’ with the aim of collecting essays and critical reflections, researches and experiments, projects and creations (of new architectures, recovery and restoration interventions, art and product/visual design) that might be case studies for innovation, sustainability and social inclusion, describing the subject: 1) Process Innovation as sequence and organization models, management and control of the process stages, operating methodologies (ideational, design, productive, operational, management and of disposal of the work/product) of the whole life cycle of the artifact; regulations; new professional experts and technical skills; ways to involve professionals and users in the several decision-making stages, etc.; 2) Production Innovation, i.e. tools suitable for the optimization of the different stages of the production process including machines and robots for digital manufacturing (CNC milling, laser cutting, 3D printing, etc.), for prototyping and for prefabrication, relating to analysis and design/simulation software (also with virtual reality) CAD and CAM, BIM, digital, parametric, algorithmic and generative, environmental, structural, energetic and thermal; installation and assembly techniques and technologies, etc.; 3) Product Innovation, i.e. smart, advanced, composite, recyclable, sustainable, nanostructured, shape-memory, phase-change, self-repairing, responsive, adaptive, low-cost and high-performance materials/components/objects with a low environmental impact; automation, detection, management and control equipment for performance optimization; ‘passive’ technologies for efficient casings, including natural ventilation and cooling systems, water collection, storage and recycling, and off-grid renewable energy production.
Many proposals and new visions of the process, its management and building production, showing new paths for innovation and professionals. But, at the same time, they also make us think on the (possible) loss of a cultural and technological knowledge that considered the designer as the one holding a global knowledge that nowadays seems to be increasingly fragmented.
IMPERMANENCE BETWEEN NECESSITY AND PLEASUREVol 4 (2018)
In the past, the time determined and ruled the relationship between architecture and history, highlighted the architecture’s capability of being passed on to posterity, to be inheritance and proof of a certain historical period. Today, the idea of duration must be rethought, having to face typical variables of the contemporary era, and identifying a new Mobile Architecture, giving rise to new forms and systems belonging to an architecture that we can call Temporary. A modernity that more and more gives immediate answers to constantly changing situations, characterized by the availability of new materials, components and construction systems that have made the creation of temporary mobile artefacts more correspondent to the needs of work and users. Temporary Architectures have become the non-places of architecture, originating a new and original research, experimentation and design sector, aiming to the creation of ephemeral built places, in contrast with permanent and enduring ones, belonging to a consolidated and more conventional architecture. This is combined with the long history of impermanence and ephemeral in architecture and in the arts connected to it and, among other things, meant as an opportunity for celebrations and for design experimentations.
Other that an answer to emergency (natural disasters, migrations resulting from wars or political traumas, etc.), to which every community must be capable of giving real answers in case of an unexpected impermanence of home environment, impermanence can have a key role in architecture, and with mobile and variable innovative systems, can give functional answers to the solicitation of our senses: tasting, seeing, feeling, touching, smelling. These solicitations simulate the designer’s creativity to search for temporary architectures and respond to needs and requirements that define and characterize the impermanence (assembling, disassembling, set-up, flexibility, transportability, etc.). Another value sustains impermanence, enriching its meaning and giving to ‘pleasure’ an added value for the creation of temporary buildings that are highly technological, or representative, where materials and techniques can enhance the building and become, even for a short period, Architecture. Pleasure’s magnitude is linked to the project’s magnitude, which researches its fulfilment, where anthropometry, typological-dimensional requirements and materials merge into a final result that, in addition to responding to the specific parameters of temporary architecture, also offers suitable solutions to accessibility for all categories of users.
All the papers identify new aspects of Impermanence. It is no longer relegated to an initial and brief stage of the constructive process, in which Architecture does not seem to be involved, but on the contrary, as specified in this editorial’s introduction, the idea of duration must be rethought, having to face typical variables of contemporary era, and identifying a new Architecture, although Temporary and Impermanent, is also long-lasting thanks to its new features, where materials, techniques and social framework can enhance the building and become, even for a short period, Architecture.
TEACHING AND PROJECTS OF ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLSVol 3 (2018)
AGATHÓN issue number 3 aims to promote the debate between Teachers, Scholars and Designers on the following questions: What will the new architecture be like in this third millennium? In a national and international context, where Architecture – in its more basic core – seems to be a forgotten art, where the urban landscape is degraded and marked by a tired and worn rationalism, where only the Starchitect’s work stands out, what can be done? What task will the education places have in this complex scenario, with technological and immaterial innovation, but also with cultural and material backwardness? Are Architecture Schools modernizing? Do they have adequate strategies for the new era and for diverse contexts?
In the editorial of AGATHÓN 2, Alberto Sposito brought to the attention of the readers some doubts that re-emerge in the subjects addressed in this issue: «does Architecture still exist as an artistic practice? Is art inexorably disappearing in the shadow of the so-called Starchitects? Which languages, forms and expressions can originate from the innovation of processes, materials and products, in response to the current needs of a simultaneous economic, social and environmental sustainability? Are the education and teaching systems of Architecture Schools adequate for the various contexts, given the social, political, cultural, economic (and even moral) status, in which we are? Is University able to communicate effectively and correctly to the citizens of tomorrow? Finally, starting Industry 4.0, or better Building 4.0, the rules and procedures related to the project are appropriate and correct or represent oppressive and malefic constraints?». The answers received to the many questions were numerous, had interesting contents and highlighted the differences or connections between the different national and international Schools of Architecture, Engineering and Design.
It is recommended and necessary «a broad and open dialogue between people in institutions, research, and in the academic, professional and productive worlds, interested in anticipating strategies and implementing actions aiming to offer new competences, to raise the quality of the project and the built works, to rethink the forms of knowledge and the cognitive status of the project» (taken from the presentation at the International Conference La Produzione Del Progetto, SITdA and dArTe, Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, 14-15 June 2018). Maybe the writer of this editorial will never see or participate as a teacher to the results of the new education settings originating and starting from the path of Industry 4.0 or leading towards a new type of Architecture or Design, more aware and respectful of the environment but especially of individuals, trying to remove the curses that complex bureaucratic structures have started to build around education, knowledge and cultural consciousness of future designers.
ARCHITECTURE AND NATUREVol 2 (2017)
Defining the two terms Architecture and Nature, is difficult: this is because Architecture has always been present in culture while assuming different meanings from civilization to civilization or from era to era and because nature has been shaped over time by unpredictable phenomena and forces. As Gabriele D'Annunzio noted (Il Fanciullo) «nature and art are a bifrons god [...] you do not distinguish one face from the other face but you feel the unique pulsing heart that is hiding in the double-figure», so we too can say that nature and architecture constitute a binomial not as a sum, but as an indissoluble whole of two entities linked by a close relationship. To clarify and to give orientation we assume these two meanings.
Architecture is the art of forming, through technical, constructive and artistic means, spaces that can be used for human needs: buildings, gardens and even monuments, considered in their spatial function; Architecture is a construction project conceived and executed, in which the various parts are conceived, structured and composed as elements of an organism belonging to the figurative arts. In other words, Architecture is therefore also an art that is part of the so-called visual-plastic arts, like sculpture; it is the discipline that has as its purpose the organization of space at any scale, but mainly that in which man lives. Nature is the foundation of existence in its physical configuration and in its biological becoming, as a causative presupposition, operating principle or phenomenal reality. Nature is the whole of all existing things considered in its overall form, in the totality, that is, of the phenomena and forces that manifest in it; it is the set of characters of a region, little or not yet modified by civilization. The term derives from the Latin nature, future participle of the verb nasci (to be born), and literally means 'what is about to be born'; according to the etymological meaning, in philosophy nature is intended in the finalistic way as the principle that operates as a life force, superior to the reality of inanimate matter, which drives all living beings to the maintenance of species through reproduction.
We asked to specify the two terms of Architecture and Nature, with this call, from three different points of view: on formal, visual and material aspects; in particular: a) on the forms that architecture assumes in reference to those of nature; b) on the natural materials used in architecture, such as stone, wood, terra cotta, adobe, green, water; c) on the natural landscape and on the urban landscape, aimed at protecting and modifying the natural environment or structuring the urban environment, to make it increasingly functional and responsive to the growing social concentration in the cities.
In this sense, we should read the contributions on architectures of animal and plant nature, designed in a conscious, interactive and adaptive way, and those on Responsive Envelopes, i.e. capable of providing services in response to the people present in a given environment, to climate changes and to particular environmental variations. One wonders: does architecture continue to exist as an artistic practice? Is it art that goes inexorably disappearing in the shadow of the so-called archistar? Which languages, forms and expressions can derive from the innovation of processes, materials and products, in response to the current needs of a simultaneous economic, social and environmental sustainability? Is the education and teaching system in the Schools of Architecture adequate for the various contexts, given the social, political, cultural, economic (and even moral) status, in which we find ourselves? Is University able to communicate effectively and correctly to the citizens of tomorrow? Finally, starting to Industry 4.0 or better to Building 4.0, the rules and procedures related to the project are appropriate and correct or constitute oppressive and malefic constraints?
CONTINUITY: PROJECTS FOR THE HISTORICAL CITYVol 1 (2017)
From the crisis of the 1970s to the 1990s, in addition to a policy aimed at the recovery of modern and contemporary building heritage, it was possible to detect both a wider research on the cultural heritage of our country and an increasing interest of the public towards the ancient contexts . By the term ancient contexts it was used to refer to those architectural and environmental assemblies with strong historical connotations, which are layered from ancient times, often superimposed, and occupy non-urban and urban environments. These sites are places where disciplinary confrontation between archeology, history of art, architecture, museography, urban planning, naturalistic engineering and, last but not least, technology is needed; Not only for their knowledge, but also for their preservation, value and fruition.
In order to stimulate the comparison on this particular theme between different disciplines, AGATHÓN collects the contributions of scholars with these goals: 1) contribute, with analysis related to training processes, to the complex, multidisciplinary knowledge that the ancient contexts require for recovery, conservation and fruition; 2) to integrate humanistic culture with scientific, technological and environmental culture; 3) determine criteria, parameters and estimates for a lasting and adequate conservation, both degradation and specific context; 4) aim at putting into value and the fruition of such ancient contexts, seeking its museographic and economic implications.
Each issue of the Journal welcomes research work on specific themes (rejecting published work or work that has been submitted to other editors for publication) regarding industrial and artisinal architecture, art and (product and visual design). The articles will be published mainly in English and Italian; its aim being to find is niche in the wider context of international research. The founding principles of the Journal are the originality and significance of the articles, the rigorous nature of the methodology, but also the easy access and wide-scale diffusion of the articles. An appropriate space, up to 40%, is entrusted to images. The humanist Giovanni Aurelio Augurelli, in a Latin carmé written in the second half of the 1400s, said regarding pictures: «multi multa ferunt, eadem sententia nulli est / pulchrius est pictis istud imaginibus», that is, many propose many interpretations, no one is of the same opinion; all this is more beautiful than the pictures themselves, whether paintings or photographs. In other words, the beauty of the pictures is that they push us to look for meanings, to remember and to activate the imagination, with multiple results.