In recent years complex forms, parametric systems of design and diagrams have become the norm in architecture. If these devices promise endless differentiation and adaptability to multiple situations, identities and performances, the results in fact contribute to a monotonous landscape of (value-free) diversity.
Against this landscape, Diploma 14 has worked to propose a return to simple forms – not as a retreat into self-referentiality (as in the glossy minimalism of contemporary architecture), but as a polemical way to confront and understand the insurmountability of the city. Instead of naively mimicking urban complexity with architectural complexity, the unit proposes to critically examine urbanity as something that provides architecture with its raison d’être while itself remaining irreducible to architectural form.
The design of the Immeuble Cité is intended as an opportunity to put forward innovative and extreme living standards in light of increasingly merging living and working activities.
Issues integral to the design of these buildings are: economy of the means of construction, accessibility, relation between individual and collective spaces, material and structural framework, the dialectic between flexibility and permanence (e.g. no value-free flexibility), the critical relationship between repetition and exception. In addition, the project fundamentally confronts the relationship between poverty and hedonism.
Architecture povera embraces the austerity of form for the sake of affordability. Hedonism concerns the pursuit of pleasure as a fundamental aspect of life. Within our contemporary situation, in which the entirety of existence is dominated by work, hedonism must not be considered as ‘consumption’ or ‘spectacle’ (the main modalities of work management today) but is a truly political state of being – one which the philosopher Giorgio Agamben defined as inoperosità (a state of unproductivity).
For this reason, the Immeuble Cité must be a contradictory site of extremes in which managerial efficiency and the organisation of collective space coexist with the possibility of escape.