From October 18 through 20, students, architects, planners, politicians, and hordes of normal citizens all descended on Turin, Italy, to engage in talks, panels, workshops, and exhibitions at the third annual Utopian Hours festival. The name is a clever play on words; pulling the “nostra” from the middle of Torino Stratosferica, the nonprofit cultural body behind the event, results in “ours,” making the actual name of the festival more about imagining a utopian future for ourselves during that time. This year’s festival was held on the multipurpose campus of the Lavazza Coffee headquarters, offering ample space for the quickly growing event. Even before one entered La Centrale, a towering power-plant-turned-events-space, visitors were met with freestanding didactics featuring snippets of the ideas to expect within. Once inside, a sprawling exhibition floor presented visions of possible future Turins from local studios, as well as a series of low-cost placemaking interventions intended to be dropped in neighborhoods around the city. Upstairs, the festival’s organizers had set up a retrospective for the 100th birthday of Paolo Soleri, curated by Emanuele Piccardo, that tracked the Turin-born architect’s career and evolution in his thinking. Of course, civic engagement and the exchange of ideas were a central goal, and each of the festival’s three days began with activities to get participants involved. On Friday, that meant kicking off the event with a “Circular Economy Workshop” intended to make visitors brainstorm ideas for creating a more “circular,” sustainable Turin. On Saturday, Play the City started the day with an interactive workshop on using play and games to reimagine urban areas (the group would return with a presentation on their work in Amsterdam on Sunday), followed by a workshop on designing for the Turin of 2030, with the youth and elderly of the future in mind. Sunday changed things up with the chance to grab a more intimate breakfast with Jan Rudkiewicz of Werklig, the studio behind Helsinki’s rebranding; participants were encouraged to ask him about the intersection of culture within a city and institutional projects. The line-up was top-notch, as speakers from all over the world offered lectures and panels in both Italian and English. That included two mayors: Chiara Appendino, the mayor of Turin, who spoke at the “How is the Turin of our desires?” panel, and the current architect-turned-mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia, Matúš Vallo, who sat in conversation with Feargus O'Sullivan of CityLab for “How To Become The Mayor.” The shift in perspective throughout the festival, from discussions of institutional, top-down approaches to city-making, to how activists can make local, small-scale changes and advance their causes with grassroots support, provided comprehensive examples of how urban activists made people power work for them. Other discussions of note included a lecture from architectural photographer Iwan Baan on how to change one’s perception of the city, and how he approaches his work. Patrik Gustavsson of the Amager Bakke Foundation discussed the path to funding and ultimately realizing the skiable Copenhill in Copenhagen. AN web editor Jonathan Hilburg sat in conversation with Laurie Hawkinson of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson and Emily Bauer of Bau Land on how to “Make New York Livable Again,” no small task. With a mandate that big, the panel leaned heavily towards the topic of climate resiliency and flood mitigation; literally keeping the city livable. While New York is an international city and the myriad problems it faces are present in every large city, the task of informing a European city about the particulars of our own issues proved refreshing, if not daunting. One of the couldn’t-miss talks followed shortly after, as Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) delivered a fiery rebuke to the “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by many architects and urban thinkers today. Brillembourg ran down a list of the hyper-site-specific interventions U-TT had taken around the world in the last 20 years, including a cable car system through the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, and resident-led housing densification in the poorest parts of South Africa. Complementing the Soleri exhibition upstairs was what might be considered the centerpiece talk of Utopian Hours, “Paolo Soleri. From Turin to the desert,” a deep dive into the late architect’s utopian vision and thought process. Perhaps the most interesting additions to the festival, and the ones that elevate it above similar conferences, are the urban explorers. Three speakers who had never been to Turin before were invited to the city four days before the rest of the guests had arrived and given the chance to walk the city. Then, over separate days, they relayed what they had learned to festivalgoers and offered suggestions on what the city could do better. All three speakers were accompanied by flashy videos Torino Stratosferica had produced, tracking each urban explorer as they meandered around the city. Why were the urban explorers so important? Their inclusion lent the festival an “on-the-ground” feel, one of lived-in experience. It’s easy to research a place, but much more difficult to actually tackle it firsthand. Utopian Hours managed to draw an enormous crowd of engaged, thoughtful attendees who weren’t afraid to offer up questions or their own take on the material. The suggested €5 ($5.50) admission fee probably helped lure in curious passersby, and that’s certainly a good thing. Let’s hope the Utopian Hours festival make a fourth appearance. AN is an official media partner of Utopian Hours.
Posts tagged with "Paolo Soleri":
For three full days in October, the city of Turin in northern Italy will become a think-tank for the future of urbanism. The third edition of Utopian Hours, “the first and only international city-making festival in Italy,” according to its organizers, promises an innovative lineup of exhibitions and guest speakers from around the globe. The festival will begin on Friday, October 18, with lectures on everything from smart cities to an Iwan Baan-led talk on capturing the city. Saturday will include a panel of New York-based architects discussing the intricacies and challenges of urban development in the city, moderated by AN’s own Jonathan Hilburg. Other highlights include talks by Patrik Gustavsson of the newly unveiled Copenhill, Bratislava mayor Matúš Vallo on the extensive strategic plan for his city, and a discussion of contemporary urban imagery with Monocle editor Andrew Tuck. Among the many exhibitions taking place over the weekend, the one to look forward to most might be “Paolo Soleri: From Torino to the Desert,” an homage to the Turin-born architect on the 100th anniversary of his birth, curated by Emanuele Piccardo. The exhibition traces Soleri’s roots from early drawings in Turin through his attempts to create utopian forms of urbanism. Utopian Hours will be held at Centrale della Nuvola Lavazza, Turin, from October 18-20. Suggested donations for admission begins at €5 ($5.50). More information, including a full festival lineup, can be found at https://torinostratosferica.it/utopian-hours/. AN is an official media partner of Utopian Hours.
For architecture enthusiasts with an artistic streak, there are a number of art exhibitions inspired by architecture and design on view across the U.S. Of course, there is Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA, already announced in AN, along with gallery shows in New York and Los Angeles worthy of a visit, featuring drawing, sculpture, installation, animation, and more. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room and Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Artist Serban Ionescu, who previously studied architecture, presents an immersive installation of drawings, sculptures, and animations in A Crowded Room at New York’s Larrie. The title and work in part references his experience as an immigrant and his father’s 2006 deportation, while still creating a narrow space touched with color and levity. The animations were made in collaboration with Narek Gevorgian. Ionescu’s work is also part of a two-person exhibition at Safe Gallery in East Williamsburg along with paintings by Anjuli Rathod. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room Larrie 27 Orchard Street, New York, NY Through June 17 Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Safe Gallery 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY Through July 15 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 is the second iteration of the now annual group show at Edward Cella Art and Architecture that explores the diverse ways artists figure and engage with the environment and built world. Featured artists include Shusaku Arakawa, R. Buckminster Fuller, Rema Ghuloum, Hans Hollein, Jill Magid, Alison O’Daniel, Aili Schmeltz, Paolo Soleri, and Lebbeus Woods, working across a wide array of media. Ruth Pastine has created “Color Zones” to engage with both the architecture figured in the artwork, as well as the architecture of the space itself. Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Edward Cella Art and Architecture 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA Through July 14th Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Taking up a large swath of Industry City in Sunset Park is a retrospective of the eminent Dutch artist M.C. Escher, whose vertiginous drawings are rich with architectural references. Not relegated merely to lithographs, drawings, or other two-dimensional forms, the exhibition, presented by Italian organization Arthemisia,also features installations that place you in the midst of the artist’s illusionary drawings and disorienting spaces. Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Industry City 34 34th Street, Building 6, Brooklyn, NY Through February 3, 2019
A Bill Gates-run investment firm is hopping on the thriving smart city trend and recently paid $80 million to acquire 25,000 acres of land in Arizona with plans to build a technologically-integrated community from the ground up. Gates sees the city, tentatively named “Belmont,” as a chance to build information networking into the bedrock of any future development there. "Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs," said a representative from Belmont Partners, Gates' Arizona-based real estate investment group. Currently an undeveloped patch of desert 45 minutes west of Phoenix, the future of Belmont might hinge on old-fashioned infrastructure. While currently without water or electricity, the city’s growth would also be driven by the completion of I-11, an interstate highway connecting Phoenix to Las Vegas, Nevada. While the highway is tentatively set to complete construction in 2018, no timetables for Belmont have been publicly announced yet. What has been laid out is how the land will be divided up. Out of the 25,000 acres, 470 will be used for public schools, while 3,800 acres will go towards retail, office and commercial space. The remaining land will hold 80,000 residences. Arizona is no stranger to utopian city projects. The iconic Arcosanti, only an hour north of Phoenix, was founded in the 1970’s with the intent of merging the built environment with the natural world. Sadly, Arcosanti’s ambitious goal of demonstrating the efficiency of a smartly planned city never quite came to pass. While still a learning space and monument to designer Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti currently only houses between 50 to 150 people at any one time. "Smart" planned communities have a history of going awry, and Songdo, South Korea is a prime example. Originally built as an interconnected smart city meant to lure international investment, the majority of residents are now South Koreans who have been priced out of Seoul. Despite the underground trash system and personalized language learning programming for residents, Songdo also remains sparsely populated. Only time will tell if Gates’ city will be an inclusive, holistically planned community, or just a test ground for Microsoft products.
In 2010, at 91, architect and Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri saw the opening of the Soleri Bridge in Scottsdale, Arizona. The cable-stay pedestrian crossing was the culmination of 60 years of bridge sketches and drawings. Peruvian artist Grimanesa Amorós continues Soleri’s dedication to experimentation with Golden Waters, an art installation extending from the bridge into the Arizona canal. Commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, Amorós’ light sculpture is suspended from the 130-foot-long span and resembles sketched lines hovering over the surface of the water. The light ribbons are made out of LEDs, custom electrical hardware, and diffusive material. Each is held in place by a cable suspension system and steel structure. The armature, which allows the piece to extend 164 feet and rise 25 feet above the surface, seems to vanish at night when the artwork is illuminated. Amorós’ artworks often blend technology with social history, scientific research, and an organic approach to any given site. In 2011, she presented a lighting sculpture inspired by the pre-Incan Uros tribe at the Frank Gehry–designed flagship of Issey Miyake. In Scottsdale, Golden Waters is meant to evoke both local history and express the interplay between urban and natural elements. “The ancient Hohokam Indians, located in northern Arizona, were one of the first cultures to rely on irrigation canals,” she explained. “As early as 300 AD, the community’s environmental engineering improved access to river water and helped improve the lives of the inhabitants.” Golden Waters will be on view in Scottsdale, Arizona through September 30, 2015.
Everything Loose Will Land Graham Foundation 4 West Burton Place, Chicago Through July 26 Everything Loose Will Land explores the intersection of art and architecture in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The show’s title refers to a Frank Lloyd Wright quote that if you “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” This freeness alludes to the fact that this dislodging did not lead to chaos but rather a multidisciplinary artistic community that redefined LA. The exhibition features one hundred and twenty drawings, photographs, media works, sculptures, prototypes, models, and ephemera. The presentations function as a kind of archive of architectural ideas that connect a variety of disciplines. Projects by Carl Andre, Ed Moses, Peter Alexander, Michael Asher, James Turrell, Maria Nordman, Robert Irwin, Frank Gehry, Richard Serra, Coy Howard, Craig Ellwood, Peter Pearce, Morphosis, Bruce Nauman, Craig Hodgetts, Jeff Raskin, Ed Ruscha, Noah Purifoy, Paolo Soleri, Ray Kappe, Denise Scott Brown, Archigram, L.A. Fine Arts Squad, Bernard Tschumi, Eleanor Antin, Peter Kamnitzer, Cesar Pelli, Andrew Holmes, Elizabeth Orr, and others are explored. Curated by Sylvia Lavin, Director of Critical Studies in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, the show began its journey at the MAK Center for Architecture and then traveled to the Yale School of Architecture before arriving at the Graham Foundation.
This March, Angelenos will get front-row seats to the nation’s largest art, architecture, and urbanism–oriented film festival. Founded in 2009 in New York, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is coming to the West Coast for the first time March 12–16. The ADFF’s program includes 30 feature-length and short films, plus panel discussions, Q&A sessions with directors and subjects, special receptions, and a Hennessey + Ingalls pop-up bookshop. ADFF kicks off with a screening of If You Build It, a film by Patrick Creadon, directory of Wordplay and I.O.U.S.A. The feature-length documentary follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller through a year of work with high school students in rural North Carolina. Also screening on opening night is 16 Acres, on a decade of rebuilding Ground Zero, and Design is One: Massimo & Lella Vignelli, on the work of the husband-and-wife graphic design team. Films scheduled for the following four days range from biopics on designers including Paul Smith, Tadao Ando, and Paolo Soleri, to a short film on farming in Brooklyn, to the The Human Scale, a Danish feature film on Jan Gehl’s urbanism. The world premiere of TELOS: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui will take place on the second night of the festival. Three California-centric films are on the ADFF menu. The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat looks at the relationship between Neutra and his working-class client. Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story, chronicles the community's destruction. Coast Modern is a video tour of modern houses from Los Angeles to Vancouver. And Levitated Mass tells the story of the 340-ton boulder’s journey from a Riverside quarry to its permanent home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ADFF is curated by Kyle Bergman and Laura Cardello. All events will be held at the Los Angeles Theatre Centre. For more information on ADFF, including a list of speakers (TBD), visit the festival website.
The visionary architect and artist Paolo Soleri has died. He was best known as the mastermind behind Arcosanti, the ongoing experimental community outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Arcosanti, which has been under construction for more than 40 years, embodies Soleri's idea of an architecture merged with the environment. More than 7,000 architecture students have worked on Arcosanti, and more than 50,000 people visit the site every year. Though Soleri has been viewed as an almost mystical outlier in architecture, many of the design principles of Arcosanti mirror contemporary thinking in architecture and planning, including walkability, high density, diversity of uses, urban agriculture, and use of embodied energy. In addition to Arcosanti, Soleri designed buildings in Italy, New Mexico, and several sites across Arizona. According to the Cosanti Foundation, Soleri will be buried at Arcosanti following a private service. A public service will be held later this year.
An earth-formed concrete amphitheater designed by Paolo Soleri may be demolished later this summer. One of only a handful of structures built by Soleri, the open-air theater (known as the “Paolo”) is on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The school commissioned Soleri to design the theater in 1964, and though it has been used for graduations and concerts since that time, the school now believes that it costs too much to maintain, and says it brings drunken crowds onto the campus during events. Built using student labor from the school, the structure was designed to “frame the sun and the moon,” and operate like an Elizabethan theater with bridges and ramps that allow performers to access various levels above, below, and behind the stage. A dramatically arched form over the stage covers the principal performance area, and according to Soleri was created of “trenched earth that captures the shape and consistency of the earth itself.” On June 11, New Mexico's Cultural Properties Review Committee urged the school to rethink its plans to raze the structure, and the Santa Fe City Council has also called for the theater's salvation. Soleri, who will turn 91 on June 21, has been rallying admirers of the earthen structure, noting in a statement, “I am willing to do anything to support the preservation of the theater.” His Cosanti Foundation is working with a variety of organizations to prevent its demolition, as well as raising funds to help the theater continue to serve the Santa Fe Indian School students and the broader Santa Fe community. Update: Soleri advocate Conrad Skinner sends this note:
The Paolo received a reprieve July 19 when Everett Chavez, SFIS Superintendent responded positively to an offer of help by New Mexico Senators Udall and Bingaman. A core of preservation advocates, including Indian School alumni, have worked out the petition linked below in the belief that we must not sit on our hands but urge the stakeholders and the purse-holders to join in establishing funding and a working relationship to ensure this unique venue's future. Funding is crucial; the Paolo lies on sovereign Indian land where most monies come through Federal appropriations. Please read our online petition and, if you agree with our position, add your signature and send the link to your friends, colleagues and students.