Design Brief

Autonomy: In 1991, the anarchist writer and poet Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson) published the book T.A.Z. (Temporary Autonomous Zones) where he describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control. The book argues for the creation of non-hierarchical system of social relationship where information is key to sneak into the cracks of formal procedures.
In 1967, engineer Giorgio Rosa designed, financed and constructed “(…) a hybrid project of marine engineering and political experimentation”.  Having built a 400-square-metre platform supported by nine pylons off the coast of the province of Rimini in international waters, on May 1st 1968, Rosa declared the independence of the Esperanta Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj (Esperanto Republic of the Isle of Roses) as a self-elected president.  The island soon became a symbol of freedom and escape of the confines of traditional society, a space of radical self-determination and self-expression.

The Adriatic City is constructed through the evolution of urban phenomena characterised by the will to establish  social independence and urban autonomy. From the ‘temples’ of the nightlife to the theme parks, from independent city states (San Marino) to historic walled cities, the urbanisation along the Adriatic is punctuated by places that claim a temporary state of social autonomy, a suspension of democratic conventions and dependencies.  Moreover, during its dominance, the Republic of Venice gave birth to architectural typologies such as Lazzaretti (established to quarantine people returning from the trading travels in the Far East) and Fondachi (outpost warehouses apt at storing goods) both of which can be considered architectural archetypes and precursors of contemporary phenomena such as the global pandemic the international free-trade zones or zona franca.

The Site: The Adriatic Sea is still, by and large, an unchartered territory.
The master class will focus on exploring this vast territory which will be the site of our intervention. We will map and study the existing network of offshore oil platforms established by the Italian petrochemical industry during the 80’s and 90’s which are, today, in the process of being dismantled or repurposed. The 40 x 40 m platforms will be our site.
Students will be asked to developed a ‘temporary autonomous zone’ of their choice, whether an outpost hub for international trade, a maritime terminal for the new Belt and Road Initiative promoted by the Chinese government, a multi-purpose atoll for leisure and escapism or a micro-nation.  We will use the platform as the catalyst to imagine, re-imagine and create a new dimension of the Adriatica city, one where the sea is no longer the backdrop but it becomes the actual site to design new functional infrastructures, supporting and extending the urban quality of the coastal city in open water.

Discrete Assembly:  The automation of cognitive and manufacturing processes are profoundly redefine the way we think and design architecture, the way buildings can be manufactured and assembled, the way we understand the architect’s role and his/her agency.
During the workshop, we will work along the notion of discreet assembly, an emerging understanding of parts or building blocks where discrete building elements are scalable, accessible and versatile as digital data. Capitalising on the digital economy and automation and taking advantage of DfMA processes, we will design for ease of manufacture of the parts and, in turn, we will design the parts for ease of assembly.

The Vitruvian and Albertian paradigm advocated the harmonious relationship between the parts and the whole by means of proportional relationship. In the first digital turn, the differentiation of parts could finally cater for an architecture that is mainly concerned with the expression of the whole (the blob) and where each and every part serves the purpose of expressing the overall composition. With the discrete, architecture is to be reduced to fewer irreducible parts that contains the greatest promise for a complex, open-ended, adaptable architecture. We will design pre-fabricated, pre-assemble and pre-serviced components that will cater for complex assemblies. Moreover, we will seek to design our building blocks as context-aware components in the attempt to create new ecological structures.