AGATHÓN | International Journal
of Architecture, Art and Design
ISSN (online) 2532-683X
ISSN (print) 2464-9309
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.
This was the introduction of AGATHÓN’s Call Number 5, asking to investigate with essays and critical reflections on the innovation processes of the product and on the innovation of the process itself. In the Focus section, the introduction essays report the personal contribution of the renowned scholars we have invited. Specifically: Giorgio Giallocosta (Full Professor of Planning and Organization of Production at the Department of Architecture Design and Construction in Genoa) about the problems caused by the current ‘systems of complexity’ that characterize the building industry, he outlines some features, background and problems of the innovation of the process and product; Francesco Zurlo (Full Professor in Industrial Design and member of the Design Department of the Polytechnic University of Milan) highlights how, over the past few years, within the debate on Design Thinking, an interest in Creative Confidence has risen, which if, on the one hand, facilitates overcoming resistance to change, on the other, needs the creation and absorption of cultural codes and models, the assimilation, in a nutshell, of a new ‘project culture’.
The selected papers create a framework dealing with the subjects and the different aspects listed in the Call. Starting from the new concept of systematized building production and a new vision and theorization of the principles of seriality, modularity and standardization, this issue of AGATHÓN reports scientific papers that investigate the digital management of the process and the need to train new professionals able to perform organizational and managerial tasks and roles. Other papers deepen the subjects of: the life-cycle on the method of selection and obtaining bio and eco-compatible materials; the experimentation on rammed earth improved with ‘green nanotechnologies’; the re-use of plastic materials; the development of industry 4.0 in investigating the possibilities of coordination between the systems for the integrated management of the design process (Building Information Modeling) and tools for rapid prototyping (Computer-Aided Manufacturing); experimentation on the machine learning algorithms for learning neural networks from BIM, aimed at generating augmented reality; of UHPC cementitious mixtures (Ultra High Performance Concrete); devices capable of measuring air pollutants and reporting them live on an open-access detailed map; the reuse of stone scrap material.
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 raise 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 artifacts 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. These are the premises presented in the Call for Papers of this issue of AGATHÓN, asking to investigate on Impermanence through critical essays and considerations, analysing the terms Necessity and Pleasure in different contexts: emergency, residence and hospitality, healthcare, cultural events, games, arts, celebrations, etc.
For the introductory essays AGATHÓN asked to scholars of the highest repute to contribute: Massimo Perriccioli, Architect and Full Professor of Architectural Technology at the University of Naples Federico II; Marco Imperadori, Engineer and Full Professor at the Polytechnic of Milan, where he carries out research in the fields of building innovation and sustainability; Salvator-John A. Liotta, Professor at the ULB-Free University of Brussels, Cambre-Horta Architecture Department, associate of the LAPS-Architecture Office based in Paris and news correspondent of the Domus magazine; Sergio Poggianella, Anthropologist and Ethnologist, Art Collector and Curator, Member of the International Society for Shamanistic Research. Their essays are followed by papers of different fields, ordered by pertinence to the subject. We are publishing most of the articles received, since we have obtained many subscriptions. Overall, the papers represent a picture covering the different facet and aspects of Impermanence, as underlined in the Call for Papers. Perhaps it would have been interesting, in addition to the numerous essays and the many design experimentations received, the presence of papers by Historians and Critics of Architecture and more papers by the scholars of Art and Design. However, it is interesting to underline how 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.
Regarding these formal, material and visual aspects, we required studies on the historical heritage, aimed at knowledge, conservation and valorization, innovative research on processes, products and materials, examples of ancient, modern and contemporary architecture. Therefore, considering the complexity of the theme, Agathón invited three renowned experts: Paolo Portoghesi, historian and designer, as well as a militant architect internationally known, who presented his contribution entitled Geomorphism, Archetypes and Symbols in Architecture; Francesco Gurrieri, dean of the Faculty of Architecture in Florence and professor in architectural restoration, with his contribution entitled The Matter of Architecture as Artwork, and Emanuela Zoppi from the University of Florence, professor in landscape architecture, with her article Landscapes, Myths and Artifacts. In addition to their contributions are the articles of other scholars coming from everywhere, in really high number, of which we published the majority of them, sorted into prevalent themes (earth, green, water, wood, architecture, landscape and design).
All the interventions result in a framework that – in our opinion – covers the questions posed by this call. If on the one hand the new architecture projects were missing, both on the small and the large scale, on the other hand interesting contributions on the history and criticism of contemporary architecture, but also modern, on nature, materials, landscape and restoration of the work of art, on geomorphism, environmental design, technology and design. Some concepts are evident which seem appropriate to report here: firstly, that nature is always assumed as a reference model for the architectural project; secondly, that the materials used come directly or indirectly from nature; thirdly, that more and more adaptivity of biological and animal nature in the architectural project is tried to be used, which is detected by biologists and botanists.
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.