Stories & Projects

Public Lecture: Cybernetic Forests and Radical Education

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The lecture by professor Peter Lang addressed the participation of Superstudio, Archizoom, and 9999 in the architectural competition for the new University of Florence campus in 1970 - 1971. 

The lecture by professor Peter Lang addressed the participation of Superstudio, Archizoom, and 9999 in the architectural competition for the new University of Florence campus in 1970 - 1971. The competition was controversial from the start, precisely because it became a platform for debates on the role of education in defining the future of architecture. Two currents emerged from this competition, one focusing on urban infrastructure and megastructure solutions, the other on the conceptual de-materialization of architecture into various conceptual possibilities. The Florence University competition played a critical role at a significant juncture in time: these were the key years, from 1970 to 1971 for the groups Superstudio, Archizoom, and 9999 whose competition submissions were not awarded prizes but whose projects were nonetheless highly admired. These Radical groups would take advantage of the competition to pursue long-term explorations in cybernetics, communications and media to further develop their experimental design practices. Their research included creating a parallel series of performative educational experiments held at the Florentine discotheque Space Electronic which would come to be known as the S-Space school (Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture).

The lecture was followed by a discussion with rector Ana Betancour.

Peter Lang is professor in Architectural Theory and History at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, where he conducts post-graduate and pre-doctorate research courses in architecture, design and multimedia communications. Lang holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Syracuse University and earned a PhD in Italian history and urbanism at New York University in 2000. He is a Fulbright recipient in Italian studies. Lang works on the history and theory of post-war Italian architecture and design, with a focus on sixties Italian experimental design, media and environments. Lang has written and curated a number of projects on the Italian Radical Design and Architecture movement, most recently in 2016 "the Mondial Festival" in Mashup: the Birth of Modern Culture" at Vancouver Art Gallery Museum, and in 2013, at the Graham Foundation Chicago. Lang co-curated, together with Luca Molinari and Mark Wasiuta, the fourth edition of "Environments and Counter Environment: Italy the New Domestic Landscape." He has been a member of the Rome based urban arts research group Stalker since 1997.

Image credits: Gruppo 9999, Florence University competition 1971. Collage, 9999 archive, Florence.

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    The Stories & Projects section is a space for brief updates about the activities at Umeå School of Architecture: notes from on-going projects, links to articles in media, summaries from public lectures, reports on different collaborations. Click on the titles to see each full story.