Activist, subversive, visionary. A critical overview of the radical architecture groups in the ‘70s to affirm the value of utopias as contemporary design tools.

Bertolino, Nadia (2017) Activist, subversive, visionary. A critical overview of the radical architecture groups in the ‘70s to affirm the value of utopias as contemporary design tools. Parol (Quaderni di Arte ed Epistemologia), 2 (28). pp. 80-85. ISSN 2035-2808

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This paper aims to demonstrate the value of utopian visions as effective tools to approach the contemporary design in a socially-sustainable way, becoming aware of the role of architects and planner as active organizers of social relations more than creators of fascinating forms. From the past, the linkage between social transformations and spatial innovation has always been searched by those activist architects, who demonstrated awareness of the specific issues of their times. The paper focuses on the so-called "radical groups" that in the late ‘60s and ‘70s offered an alternative to the principle of the Modern Movement in order to re-affirm the value of architecture as a socially engaged agency. In particular, in the United Kingdom and Italy the radical groups clearly represented the opposition to the standard principles of architectural practice. Exemplary of such opposition are (in the UK) the Architects Revolutionary Council, the New Architecture Movement and (in Italy) Superstudio and Archizoom. Although their works and philosophies resulted into different outcomes, they all shared a common starting point based on the renovated sensitivity to the social changes in progress and the awareness of the inappropriate responses provided by the architects and planners at that time. For the Italian groups in particular, utopian visions became the disruptive way to communicate the need of innovation and to offer a radical alternative to the principles of the modern design, identifying architecture as a form of cultural critique and finally as a social and political practice. In Superstudio’s "moderate utopia", everyone is given a sparse, but functional space to live in, free from superfluous objects. The ideal equality and freedom of the human beings manifested themselves in the endless surface that, crossing indifferently the natural and urban environments, allows people to move freely. Referencing to Natalini provocative ideas on the role of architects as activists , the paper finally goes through the most innovative tendencies in contemporary design by a critical selection of cases study, underpinned by the search for a "social utopia" in a broader sens

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Utopian studies, Utopian theories, Spatial practice, Radical movement
Subjects: K100 Architecture
R300 Italian studies
W200 Design studies
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Architecture and Built Environment
Depositing User: Nadia Bertolino
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2017 12:29
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 07:31

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