Syllabus 01 - Highway Design

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Highway Design

Syllabus 01

ISSN 2385-2291

June 2021


Syllabus is supplement of Fuoco amico Architectural Review ISSN 2385-2291 Syllabus presents results, experiences, research made inside formative courses at different levels: bachelor, master, doctorate. The goal is to offer these products, provisional and incomplete as they can be, to the scientific community, enhancing dialogues and exchanges. Scientific Board Gian Luca Brunetti (Politecnico di Milano) Giovanni Corbellini (Politecnico di Torino) Andrea Gritti (Politecnico di Milano) Luis Antonio Jorge (FAUUSP - Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo) Stamatina Kousidi (Politecnico di Milano) Alessandro Rocca (Politecnico di Milano) Teresa Stoppani (Architectural Association School of Architecture, London) Editor in Chief Alessandro Rocca ©2021 MMXII Press piazza Leonardo da Vinci, 26 - 20133 - Milano MMXIIpress@gmail.com


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Highway Design

Syllabus 01

ISSN 2385-2291

June 2021


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Index 010 Research Alessandro Rocca The Highway of the Spectacle Gian Luca Brunetti Confessions of a Technical Design Reviewer Jacopo Leveratto Another Roadside Attraction Monica Manfredi The Dimension of Time Luca Negrini An Architectural Future for the Highways Francesca Zanotto Gates to the Territory. Beyond a Linear Experience of the Highway 139 Projects 221 Reprint Stan Allen Infrastructural Urbanism 247 Repertoire


16/ADS, Highway A7 track.


Projects List Architectural Design Studio (ADS), a. y. 2020-21 Professors: Alessandro Rocca, Gian Luca Brunetti Tutors: Monica Manfredi, Luca Negrini, Francesca Zanotto 01/ADS: Armen Alexanian, Fitore Gashi, Angela Lekovska 02/ADS: Pietro Dallera, Andrea Frontani, Alessandro Ricci 03/ADS: Zhang Siman, Zhang Xinyuan 04/ADS: Zhang Yue, Sun Jiayue, Li Zhihao 05/ADS: Evandro Barros, Bensu Karamustafa, Leila Mansouri 06/ADS: Michela Barazzetti, Laura Codilupi, Benedetta Moreschi 07/ADS: Emanuel Jicmon, Marcos Armenta Sierra, Zhouyi Tu 08/ADS: Xu Fei, Tang Yinwo, Zeng Kuo 09/ADS: Michele Archetti, Yasaman Taghipour 10/ADS: Sara Agour, Martina Chiappe, Caterina Santini 11/ADS: Mahnam Abbasi, Sana Khanmohammadi, Neda Saadat 12/ADS: Chen Bowen, Li Linmei, Yu Miao 13/ADS: Jiayi Yan, Wenkai Wang, Chenyu Hu 14/ADS: Mohammadreza Hashemipour, Ransom Priynka, Jodhiga Reddy 15/ADS: Ziqi Cui, Shuqing Chen, Suofeiya Nanxi 16/ADS: Giovanni Brunetti, Evrim Ecem Saçmalı, Simin Wu Thesis Projects (TP), a. y. 2019-20 Supervisor: Alessandro Rocca 01/TP: Manuel Benedettini 02/TP: Du Jian 03/TP: Beatrice Garampelli, Elizabeth Heidenreich 04/TP: Nicolò Mariani, Christian Spolti, Lorenzo Turnaturi



Research

We chose highways as a field of research, starting from the architecture of the service stations. These places are often anonymous, related to out-of-fashion design, nostalgic memories of a past era. Traveling by car was a social achievement and a futuristic adventure. Service areas are old witnesses of an idea of a future that got old, and now they need a deep regeneration process, updating services and environments, finding a new design for the relationship with the highway, the territory, and the users.


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Alessandro Rocca The Highway of the Spectacle

Alessandro Rocca is a professor of Architectural and Urban Design at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano

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09/ADS - Scrivia Service Area. Timeline.

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The Studio intends to elaborate projects to transform the service areas along a specific part of an Italian highway. The sites are located in the so-called internal territories, the Apennines Italian region, which, because of the decline of the sylvan-agricultural and industrial activities, suffer abandonment and depopulation phenomena. Implementation and transformation of the service areas should be integrated into a process of redemption of those territories, as part of a larger movement that tends to implement new relations between the metropolitan and the countryside. The goal is to envision a development capable of mixing elements of newness, technology, connectivity, business and the like, and factors related with the local cultures, establishing a dialogue with the small scale of the landscapes, the many villages, and towns which, in a not too far past, were the nervous system of the nation. Starting from these premises, the Studio engages in similar topics, which have the same relevance. The first topic is "implementation": to give the drivers a new perception of the service area and a new environment, freer from the functionalist aspects, more


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integrated with the landscape, and more generous, in terms of public spaces, facilities, interactions. A second topic is "open and integrate": a goal of producing, through the development of new attractions and facilities, a substantial direct benefit for the surrounding villages, which live separated from the flow of people and money, which runs the highway, and remain isolated from the metropolitan system. A third topic is "energy": if we guess that, in a few years, all vehicles will be equipped with electrically powered engines, the standard gasoline service will disappear, changed with a new system of energy supply with totally different characters. For example, vehicles will be fed while they just stand in their lots, reducing the need for space for this function; but, on the other side, the entire process will be consistently longer, taking more than the few minutes necessary for the gas supply. This entails that we can imagine longer stops, and different use of time, at the service area, waiting to complete the electrical charge. In this sense, service areas and the highway itself may act - and be designed - as the nodes and the backbone of territorial systems enabling the circulation of


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resources, waste processing, and ecological network enhancement. A fourth topic is "Fragility": in the last years, the infrastructural system shows serious endurance and safety problems. Collapses of viaducts, bridges, tunnels, clear that the entire system, often more than 50 years old, is aging, asking for regular maintenance and, in some instances, of radical interventions with the substitution of entire parts of the infrastructures, as recently happened for the Morandi viaduct in Genoa. This topic overpasses the boundaries of our Studio. Still, it is an element of knowledge that pushes for a different approach to designing the infrastructure and its facilities. It is necessary to adopt a less rigid approach, looking for infrastructures adaptable to other uses and more open to possible compresence of various users, vehicles, activities. Highway as a nation The highway represents an anomalous work ground for architecture. Its infrastructural nature escapes the control of architecture and instead calls for the collaboration of landscape architects. In Italy, Pietro


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"One of the most hotly debated questions regarding the design of the autobahn was whether it should be built with long straightaways or in sinous, sweeping curves. While the propaganda claimed that the roads were integrated into the landscape following the latter pattern, most of the early autobahn stretches resembled this picture: Long straight sections were connected with short curves. The aerial view shows the autobahn from Frankfurt/Main to Darmstadt. Otto Reismann, Deutschlands Autobahnen—Adolf Hitlers Straßen (Bayreuth: Gauverlag Bayerische Ostmark, 1937), 144". (Zeller 2007, p. 130).


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"Often, the autobahn traversed forests, which created particular design challenges for landscape architects and civil engineers. Some preferred a road that was as close to the trees as possible. Fritz Todt, however, the chief autobahn engineer, recommended more clearcutting in order to give drivers a feeling of open space on a fast journey. Otto Reismann, Deutschlands Autobahnen—Adolf Hitlers Straßen (Bayreuth: Gauverlag Bayerische Ostmark, 1937), 194". (Zeller 2007, p. 158).


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Porcinai's work on the Brenner motorway remains exceptional, and unfortunately, a unique experience whose infrastructure and the landscape integrate into a single design. The Brenner experience, carried out starting in 1964, is an epigone of the remarkable story of the highways of the Third Reich, conceived and built under the Hitler regime in a systematic way as a landscape action. It must be taken into account that Porcinai had his training as a landscape architect abroad and especially in Germany, the scene of the largest motorway construction operation in the first half of the twentieth century. From 1935 to 1940, the total length of German motorway sections grew from 108 to 3736 kilometers. At the head of this vast national enterprise is Fritz Todt, engineer, road inspector general, who in 1939 creates and directs the Todt Organization, responsible for military construction, starting from the Siegfried line. From 1940 to 42, Todt was minister of armaments and ammunition, a position in which he was replaced by another protagonist of Hitler's architecture, Albert Speer, after his death in a plane crash. “In order to create fitting roads for the Reich, he (Todt) assembled


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a team of landscape designers and forestry experts as well as architects; in particular, the architect who would be responsible for many of the autobahn bridges, Paul Bonatz, and landscape architect Alwin Seifert. Todt s role was to bring together all the necessary people: architects, structural engineers, landscape and forestry specialists, to ensure that each section of autobahn was thoroughly and realistically planned before work commenced.” (Taylor, 47). Alongside Todt, there is a figure of great interest, Alwin Seifert, ecological landscape architect and supporter of biodynamic agriculture, whom Porcinai personally knew, appreciated and used as an example. “Porcinai met Alwin Seifert in Paris in 1937. at the Congrès lnternational des Architectes Paysagistes. On several occasions Porcinai help to spread his ideas di lui Seifert was a theorist and consultant for the Reich on landscape issues - hoping to stimulate a similar policy in ltaly for the protection of the national landscape. See, for example. Porcinai's passionate book rev1ew of Im Zeitalter des Lebendingen. Natur-HeimatTechnik (Mullersche, Planneg, 1943), in which he enthusiastically praised design criteria respectful of the


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landscape in the new motorway system, published in Architettura (December 1941, p. 475). He used a similar tone in “The whole nation must be a garden. The streets are lined with trees, creating true elements of the landscape”, in Domus 115, 1937, pp. 38-42 (Treib, Latini, p. 183). Highway as a society The pedagogical goals of this Studio are multiple because we consider the highway, with its nature and environment, a crossroad of many different trajectories, stories, and perspective. On one hand, the highway is a modernist artifact par excellence, a symbol of the myth of speed and performance that characterized the XIX century and which found it’s complete accomplishment in the last century. In modernist mythology, the highway is the final detachment of the metropolitan man from the slow pace and old values of the countryside, and from the tiring proximity of the urban crowd, the noise and pollution of the city with its excess of stress and messages.


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Angelo Bianchetti, Study for an Autogrill, 1950 ca.

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Angelo Bianchetti, Study for an Autogrill, 1950 ca.


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Angelo Bianchetti, Study for an Autogrill, 1950 ca.

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Angelo Bianchetti, Autogrill Giovi, Highway A7, 1958.


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The man running on the highway, the worker, the driver, the family on holidays, is absorbed into the golden sphere of consumerism, immersed in the frigid sociality of the Autogrill, pushed by the implicit competition prepared by a road that is exactly like an autodrome. The symbols, along the highway, stay calm and regular, obeying a homogenous code, unified by the same colors, fonts, and positions. The traffic is strictly disciplined; it can be slow for its density, for car crashes, for manutention works and other contingencies, but it is never chaotic and unpredictable like in the streets of the city. Every vehicle follows the same directions, there are neither traffic lights nor pedestrians. The lanes stay closed between continuous barriers, being them guard-rails, concrete walls, or pseudo natural embankments. The road has doors, in Italy, where you must be checked and pay a toll, benefitting of something that is not for all. The highway is like a universe of law and order, a wonderland that can easily produces dystopian conditions. The apex, of the dystopia, is the car crash,


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Angelo Bianchetti, Autogrill, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Highway A1, 1958.


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Angelo Bianchetti, Autogrill, Fiorenzuola d'Arda,1958.


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the event that translate power and speed in its opposite, in a sudden state of quietness, dominated by fear and pain. When travelers leave the vehicles, there is always a motion of relief. The truck driver takes his lunch, the travelers are glad to leave the bus and suspend, for fifteen minutes, the forced cohabitation. Everyone takes some breaths, eats, drinks, pisses, walks, gives a look at the landscape. Especially, drivers finally have access to their devices, intensely, along the working days, and lazily in the weekend and holidays. In the ecology of the highways (Banham, 1971) the service stations are oasis, spaces for a possible social contact, for resting and meeting, for fueling and shopping. In the service station, the parking lots are a well-ordered complement of the building and the gas station, and these three elements combine a region with its specific rules and habits. The gas stations generally come from a prefab system that make them all very similar. Their recurrency is a marketing strategy, making the brand recognizable through the colors and the form of the structure. The gas station is an extension of a product, gas, which is always the same,


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and then the structure follows the same principle, testifying with its sameness the sameness of the service. It is the same principle that inspires all the franchising shops, from the cheapest fast food to the most expensive fashion showroom. For the main building, that normally hosts shops and restaurant, rules can change. We find chains of repeated architectural models and exceptional buildings. Also, we find the two opposite options merged, with the repetition of exceptional buildings. This is the case of the revolutionary buildings invented by Angelo Bianchetti (1911-94) for the Italian highways, in the Fifties and the Sixties of the last century. After a prestigious internship in the office of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, in Berlin, and after the making of important projects in Italy before and after IIWW, in 1958 Bianchetti conceived a sort of triumphal triple arch for a new kind of building in the service station, the Pavesi, from the name of the pastry industry which financed it. The building, beautiful and fully successful, was located North of Milan, along the highway leading to Switzerland, and replied only two times, North and East of Genoa, on the A7 and A10 highways.


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From D. Appleyard, K. Lynch, J. R. Myer, The View from the Road, The MIT Press, 1965.


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From D. Appleyard, K. Lynch, J. R. Myer, The View from the Road, The MIT Press, 1965.


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With the inventions of Angelo Bianchetti, architecture becomes a spectacle, enhancing the structural aspects, with arches and bridges and assuming intense colors, large windows, super graphic billboard legible from a distance. In the highway's spectacle, travelers observe from above, behind the soundproofed windows of the restaurant, the cars passing. It is a euphoric but also an efficient representation of the new economic boom. The motorway has now lost that happy adherence to the spirit of the time. The asphalt, the concrete of the viaducts and tunnels, the steel of the guardrails have become symbols of man's abuse of nature and landscape. However, there is nothing more scenic than a highway that cuts through valleys and plains, accompanying its wide curves the land's orography, the bends of rivers, and the mountains' ridges. The technological and futuristic architectures of the Sixties interpreted the dream of a happy and innocent dominion. Today, the new highway architecture, having lost the innocence of the 20th-century machinery, must address the theme of a hybrid environment, where heavy traffic coexists with the rural dimension.


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The sociologist Marc Augé, in a lucky book, indicated the highway as a typical non-place, where local authenticity is reproduced, with grotesque and guilty simulacra, in the symbols and minimal information shown on the tourist signs. Nevertheless, it is also true that the motorway remains a privileged observation point both on the landscape and on the habits of the traveling population, the nomadism of truck drivers, commuters, and vacationers. We can imagine the motorway as a society, therefore, and parking areas as the places where cars stop and travelers return to being people in the flesh, consumers of the products of the motorway shop and restaurant but also users of anomalous environments, possible windows open to a future yet to be invented.


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Bibliography Augé, Marc (1992). Non-Lieux. Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité. Paris: Seuil. Banham, Reyner (1971). Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. New York: Harper and Row. Latini, Luigi, and Cunico, Mariapia (1995). Pietro Porcinai. Il progetto del paesaggio nel XX secolo. Venezia: Marsilio. Matteini, Milena (1991). Pietro Porcinai, architetto del giardino e del paesaggio. Milano: Electa. Rollins, William H.. (1995). Whose Landscape? Technology, Fascism, and Environmentalism on the National Socialist Autobahn. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 85(3), 494-520. Taylor, Blayne (2010). Hitler's Engineers: Fritz Todt and Albert Speer, Master Builders of the Third Reich. Havertown, PA: Casemate Publishers. Treib, Marc, and Latini, Luigi (2015). Pietro Porcinai and the Landscape of Modern Italy. Milton Park: Taylor and Francis. Zanda, Claudia (2020). The Architecture of a Motorway. Between Maintenance and Preservation. Siracusa: Letteraventidue. Zeller, Thomas (2007). Driving Germany: The Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930-1970. New York: Berghahn Books.


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Gian Luca Brunetti Confessions of a Technical Design Reviewer

Gian Luca Brunetti is an Associate Professor of Building Tecnhology at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano

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Why confessing? Well, one may confess out of optimism, when one feels there is something that can be improved upon. In these cases, confession becomes a sort of auto-analysis. And so is in my case. These confessions of mine have grown out of the experience I have had in a specific design studio at the School of Architecture of the Politecnico di Milano – a studio that I shared with Alessandro Rocca, together with Monica Manfredi, Francesca Zanotto and Luca Negrini in the first semester of the academic year, 2020-21 - but may as well have stemmed out of any other design studio to which I have participated in the last few years as a technical design reviewer. I hope that from my notes it will be perceptible that I enjoyed very much working in this studio. It was a healthy one. This is also what set me in confession mood; this, and the fact that, as the years go by, I am more and more aware of the existence of patterns, both in my behaviour in the technical design reviews, and in the behaviour of students. In analysing those patterns, I am going here to profit from my privileged viewpoint of reviewer, characterized by the fact that, as a reviewer, I play a similar game with each group of students, while


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for each group of students each review is only their own - which is also the condition that most distinguishes design studios from theoretical courses. 1. Extra-powers from skin in the game I will begin with the first and foremost point: I believe that - in my case, at least – the differences in design proficiency levels between the reviewer and the reviewee do not principally derive from a difference between their knowledge levels (indeed, those differences may not even exist), but rather from the different amount of “skin in the game” (Taleb, 2018) they have: a skin that, in this case, is constituted by reputation – a priceless currency, for an academic. More specifically, I think that the additional skin in the game that the reviewer has brings him/her extra-powers – out of thin air - which would otherwise be absent. At the core of this phenomenon is the fact that the reviewer usually needs a good project much more badly than the reviewee; which prompts, in turn, a much stronger drive to undergo the pain of thinking hard. My belief is so extreme that it goes as far as thinking that no decrease in review quality may likely be noticeable even


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in the case that the reviewer knows nothing more than the reviewee. But how it could be that stamina plays such a huge role in design - so greater than, say, in mathematics, where one is not likely to become much more intelligent just by playing harder? I think that this happens because the activity of designing is a kind of search process, very much like that of problem-solving in general (Simon and Newell, 1972; Heath, 1984); a search the quality of which strongly depends on how radically and intensely the alternative design paths are explored; in other words, on how much leeway one is willing to give to ideas, along the process of their mutation and recombination. By the way, it is interesting to note that this definition of design process, despite having been formalized within the field of artificial intelligence, is not at all alien to the field of architectural design: a search action of the same kind, after all, was at the core of the design method of the École des Beaux-Arts, pinned on the use of flexible, quick sketches for the exploration of the option space, followed by phases of elaborate post-choice option implementation (Draper, 1977).


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The other consequence of the situation in question is that most usually the reviewee tends to overestimate the importance of the knowledge advantage that is on the side of the reviewer, overlooking that it is perfectly possible to arrange a great technical project by mastering only a small subset of the optimal amount of technical knowledge expected - provided that the options available are explored energetically; in other words, provided that mental laziness is overcome. It is not surprising that in no other domain of activity within the design endeavour, the extra-powers deriving from skin in the game are more evident than in handsketching, the secret weapon. Indeed, how much one can squeeze out of it seems to be highly proportional to the drive and faith in its possibilities: a selffulfilling prophecy. This is signalled by the fact that an overwhelming majority of the technical review time in a design studio is spent verifying the three-dimensional consequences of the reviewee’s bi-dimensional representations. I bring to the attention of the reader, with sympathy and reconnaissance, this project by Zhihao Li, Jiayue Sun and Yue Zhang, as an example of work with regards to


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which I verified the potential generative consequences of simply convincing somebody of how much thinking harder pays off (fig. 1). 2. Micro-lecturing My second confession stems, once more, from the greater effort intensity on the reviewer’s side: I believe that technical design reviews are commonly more useful to the reviewer than to the reviewee. The point is, design studios are mostly aimed to improve the way in which people frame problems and act on them design-wise (in other words, they are mainly concerned with procedural knowledge), rather than enriching their knowledge of facts (semantic knowledge, in the jargon of cognitive science). That the inner workings of the human mind are pinned on these two kinds of knowledge – procedural and semantic - finds wide consensus both in the area of biological sciences (Ballard, 2015) and in that of artificial intelligence (Anderson, 1993). The fact that a design studio is mostly about knowledge regarding how to do things, rather than knowledge regarding facts, is in line with the fact that, ideally,


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Fig. 1. Project by Zhihao Li, Jiayue Sun and Yue Zhang,


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the aim of the studio is that of inducing permanent modifications in the students, with regard to how they see and solve problems; modifications of the kind that takes place in a mind when one learns a new language, or learns to use a new tool (Doidge, 2007). Along this line of interpretation, the objective of a design studio may be considered to sharpen one’s own intuition and improve the capability of it to support analytic thinking; which is usually a slower process than pure rational thinking: a process entailing growing into problems and letting the unconscious mind feed the explorations of the conscious one via intuition (Poincaré, 1905), as a consequence of the development of associative memories - memories connected by links of causality and correlation (Hinton and Anderson, 1989; Kahneman, 2011). At the basis of the educational model of the design studio, which today dominates the schools of architecture around the world, there is, indeed, the aim to develop a professional intuition (Klein, 1999), which is seen as an indispensable resource for managing the complexity of today’s professional action beyond the limits of the inevitably imperfect


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theory available (Schön, 1982). But where is this model located within the landscape of available educational methods for future practicing designers? At one end of the spectrum of possibilities, there is the orthodox sequence constituted by theoretical knowledge followed by application, which is the model of Technical Rationality upon which professional education in the earlier post-second-world-war period has been based with the utmost clarity; and that, notoriously, has shown its limits more and more clearly the more the awareness of the complexity and systemic nature of reality gained prominence in socio-cultural debates. And at the other end of the spectrum, there is the socalled “case method” (Langdell, 1871), the method of teaching based on the extraction of knowledge from case studies – which has caused quite a few delusions after a burst of renewed enthusiasm in the Seventies. Now, I believe that the rationale of a design studio can be found in the middle ground between those extremes, but I also believe that this middle ground is less suited to design tasks which are rich in technical content than to the design tasks characterized by a low density of technical knowledge. I argue this considering (1) that


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the essential condition for learning how to do things – in the specific case, broadly speaking, how to design - is that the factual knowledge that is necessary for confronting the task procedurally is already possessed by the learner; but also (2) that this condition – in my experience, at least - is rarely met in the curricula of design studies – that is, that factual knowledge is not yet possessed at the time in which a studio begins. Another way to look at that situation is that the technical reviewer is expected to mentor the reviewee by the force of examples towards the development of design skills; but this is possible only if the factual knowledge is already “owned” by the reviewee. And that necessity, in turn, derives from the fact that without factual knowledge, how-to knowledge has no object of application, is empty. The risk, in the technical context of a design studio, is, therefore, that how-to knowledge gets short-circuited into itself, and the progress of a design process is left at the mercy of injections of technical knowledge calibrated on the spot, on the basis of the needs of an instant; and the ultimate consequence of this is that technical knowledge does not play a noticeable role among the decisional factors related to


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the design activity. The most reliable symptom that this is happening is when most of a technical reviewer’s time is spent bringing to the table knowledge of facts, and the reviewer is called to perform more like a consultant than as a reviewer. The point here is that the time the reviewer spends micro-lecturing about some technical information is lost with respect to the domain of how-to knowledge. In those moments, cheap money is being spent, and a doped satisfaction is being had on part of both the reviewer and of the reviewee. Of course, in such occurrences, the reviewer is gratified of being able to give the reviewees a piece of information they lack – one is always gratified by feeling needed - and the reviewees are likely to be gratified by being devoted a micro-lecture; but the knowledge that is passed on there is usually mostly of the type that could be found in a book; and the paradox of this situation is that the one who learns the most from it this operation is precisely the reviewer, that is, the one already in possession of the factual knowledge on which the procedural knowledge is being applied. I believe, however, that the root of the described short-


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circuit lies outside, and precedes, the conception of the multi-disciplinary design studio: it is the belief in the possibility of externalizing knowledge for user’s consumption is widespread; that is, the belief that it is possible to process factual knowledge existing somewhere else than in one’s mind (in a book, for example, or on the web) proficiently (that is, in an integrated manner, not only holistically, but also recursively and self-reflectively); the illusion that externalized knowledge and the knowledge integrated in one’s mind can be processed by that mind with a comparable degree of efficiency. The common wisdom produced along this line of reasoning goes more or less like this: “why would someone, today, want to ‘own’ a piece of technical knowledge inside her/his head? Modern knowledge is too complex to be stuffed in one’s head, and this is why handbooks exist”. Here one may substitute the word “knowledge” with “instructions” or “expert consultant” without disrupting the terms of the rationale. It is worth noticing that the roots of this belief are not young: no one less than the architect-coordinator of the Bauhaus type (Gropius, 1955) took already the moves from it.


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The short-circuit in question is also closely related to the conviction that it is possible to transfer procedural knowledge straight from the brain of one person to that of another by mentoring, rather than letting each one re-discover that knowledge by oneself each time – through first-hand experiences – failures, above all. What the “externalizing” view fails to take into account is that: (1) the associative memories on which intuitions are founded are subject to illusions and biases comparable to the ones which are typical of perception (and that have been studied, much earlier by the Gestalt theory) (Kahneman, 2011); and (2) the only manner for checking associative memories against those biases is updating them constantly via the feedback of one’s own direct experience. I am pleased to bring to the attention of the reader this project developed by Martina Chiappe, Caterina Santini and Sara Agour, as a demonstration of the potentially disruptive effect of injecting some additional technical information into a design process (fig. 2). The transmission of new factual information, in this case, unlocked unexploited resources that accompanied a quantic design “jump”.


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Fig. 2. The project by Martina Chiappe, Caterina Santini and Sara Agour is a demonstration of the potentially disruptive effect of injecting some additional technical information into a design process.


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3. Methods as commodities Design methods are many; but to a technical reviewer in a design studio, they can also seem cheap. The point is: from that viewpoint, most of the design methods are likely to be just good enough for the job; and the most likely reason for this is that executing things well - at least, at the educational level - is so much more important than which method is used among the available ones. The importance of the coherence with which one applies a method to a problem from beginning to end is probably in line with the importance that Peter Rowe’s attributes to the role of persistence (Rowe, 1986). And also, that importance is probably not unrelated to what Thomas Edison wanted to convey with the famous sentence that success in invention “is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. (Well, I am taking a bit of license here: he was actually talking about Genius.) And, again, that emphasis on the importance of coherence is very much in tune with the military wisdom (by Napoleon) that a mediocre general is better than two or more clever generals competing for control. That different designers can design with different


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Fig. 3. The project by Zhang Xinyuan and Zhang Siman grew out of the imitation of the Mondadori Headquarters in Segrate, Milan, by Oscar Niemeyer.


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approaches, because they can tailor design method to suit their sensitivities and propensities, is something that has found considerable consensus in contemporary literature about architectural design methods (Broadbent and Ward, 1969; Jones, 1970-1992; Lawson, 1980-2005; ). But the interchangeability of methods, of which I am speaking about, is a further step, which produces, in its turn, a consequence that is very postmodern and desperate in essence: that one may choose a design method in an à-la-carte fashion for each project, or design group, without entailing any harm for the quality of the outcomes. Which, on the reviewer’s side, may even translate into: let people have what they want – or deserve. The work by Zhang Xinyuan and Zhang Siman is an interesting example of the consequences of a switch of design method, followed by coherent application. Specifically, the final version of this project grew out of the model of the Mondadori Headquarters in Segrate, Milan, by Oscar Niemeyer, in successive bursts of adaptation to the functional requirements (fig. 3).


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4. Connivance Many persons - me included - think that one can obtain more with praise than with reprimands, and that enthusiasm, and not fear, moves mountains. But it must also be admitted that praising people is easier than criticizing them, especially face-to-face. As a consequence, design reviews are full of praise. Mine, most and foremost: yes, they often overpraise. But to this it should also be added that designing in a team is a social activity, and because of that, in design studios, the social aspects of designing usually influence the design outcomes considerably. I think that many designers have a first-hand experience of how collaborative design can entail ego-games in which not only the skilled designer can thrive, but also the skilled barterer. The point is that often designers – especially the “preliminary” ones, like students – can get very personal about their own ideas, and tend to try to impose them as a proxy for their personality, out of the eagerness to be appreciated by others. Mostly, design reviewers are keenly aware (although, usually, not in the full-blown details) that group dynamics underlie their dialogue with the reviewees,


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and this makes them incline to distribute gratification and encouragement as evenly as possible between the members of a workgroup; which goes against the solid fact that often a minority of members of a group produces the majority of good ideas. In the context of the reviewing endeavour, I often find myself investing considerable energy in devising manners to concede the “honours of the arms” to whom I deem the weakest idea-producers, by endorsing their smallest nondeleterious ideas with all the possible emphasis and fanfare, while silently endorsing the most prominent ideas of the strongest ones. But this, like always, comes at a cost: the cost of stiffening the design ideas with unneeded constraints, that, in turn, inevitably end up thwarting the evolution of a project, to the detriment of its final quality. The reason for this outcome, of course, is that overpraising design ideas bears the effect of inducing the authors to stick with them for too long, rather than encouraging them to search hard for new ones; with the ultimate consequences of channelling the design process toward a reassuring path of gradual improvement, at the expense of the possibility of


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disruptive exploration. On the one hand, this approach reduces the likelihood of mistakes – which are indeed, by their nature, more numerous than useful options; but in doing that, it also prevents the possibility of learning from the mistakes themselves - which is reputed to be among the most effective ways of learning in the context of a design activity (Petroski, 1982). And on the other hand, this “stiffening” of the design process makes it more one-directional than it could be, less recursive, and, ultimately, less evolutionary. The point here is that biological evolution itself has been proven to require leaps of speciation and acceleration (Gould, 2007) following periods of accumulation of potential changes (Koonin and Wolf, 2009), and these dynamics are likely to have their counterparts, and be as fundamental, in design processes (Steadman, 2008; Petroski, 1993). This is very relevant, because the ultimate consequence of complacency towards the reviewee’s ideas is that of shifting the balance of the outcomes from the natural human tendency to “satisficing” goals (that is, settling for an acceptable, although sub-optimal, outcome Simon, 1976) to the impossibility of satisfying them.


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The tendency towards a premature fixation of technical choices may often be made even more evident by a shortage of time in a design studio (and really there is never enough time in a design studio – particularly, in a healthy one). Indeed, it is a well-documented experimental fact that, while a shortage of time can degrade the performance of the skilled professional, it can utterly destroy the performance of a novice, who cannot count on an existence of a repertoire of already formed schemata of thought related to procedural competence (Khaneman, 2011). The development of the project by Xu Fei, Tang Yinwo and Zeng Kuo has been one and the same with the deployment of diplomatic tactics aimed to find a balance between the individual contributions. I enjoyed considerably giving advice for this project, but - I have to admit – I renounced almost from the start cut through the maze of its diverse – although always amicable - driving forces (fig.4). 5. Repetition I have kept the hardest part of the confession as last, and I will use it also as a conclusion. Without further ado:


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Fig. 4. The project by Xu Fei, Tang Yinwo and Zeng Kuo deployed diplomatic tactics aimed to find a balance between the individual contributions


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technical design reviews are entrenched in repetition! I am not speaking here of the curse of the teacher who sees each year the old class slide away and a new, unknown one arrive; I am speaking of a sillier kind of repetition: daily repetitions, things repeated again and again in the range of a few minutes. The primary reason of this is that often, in design studios, the design groups come out with similar problems in similar moments. But when a reviewer puts effort of abstraction in the responses to those problems, those responses often turn out to be not only similar, but the same altogether; which puts the reviewer in the position of repeating them again and again, like a theatre actor compelled to play a part five times a day. And in those cases, the temptation of playing it safe by utilizing well-experimented rhetoric tricks is difficult to resist – provided that the reviewer is the only one aware of the repetitions! Which happens, of course, only when a revision is “private”, not shared. On the other hand, when a review is “public”, there is the even more serious risk, for the reviewer, of feeling obliged to stray the review out of its most appropriate path for the sole sake of avoiding repetition. The most


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extreme case of this situation takes whole-semester proportions (and thankfully it does not happen every year): this takes place when in a studio there is a student having already attended a similar course with the same reviewer in a previous year. The character of the whole course may be derailed by that situation. I am not arguing here that repetition may not necessarily be a good thing. Quite the contrary: repetition facilitates understanding and memorization, and is normal and healthy in oral communication (Ong, 1982). Repetition produces rhythms, which produce patterns, which by themselves are so fundamental to make them suited to sustain on their own whole movements in architectural (as well as software) design (Alexander, 1977, 1979). Repetition is the salt of many good things. What I am saying is that the review dynamics deriving from both the cited kinds of repetitions that can occur in a design studio – the dynamics linked to “private” repetitions and those linked to “public” ones - are manifestations of the same fact: that teaching - and reviewing, as a part of it - is also - at least partially - a performance, a show; the effect of which largely depends on the learner’s


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ability to distinguish when the show is good from when the learning process is good. As regards the reviewer’s side: well, if you are like me, you rarely resist the temptation to bet on the show.


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Bibliography Taleb, N.N. (2018). Skin In the Game. London: Allen Lane Penguin Random House. Newell, A., Simon, H.A. (1972). Human Problem Solving. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Heath, T. (1984). Method in Architecture. New York: Wiley and Sons. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. London: Penguin Books. Schön, D.A. (1981). The Reflective Practitioner. How Professionals Think in Action. London: Basic Books. Langdell C.C. (1871). A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. Klein, G. (1999). Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions. Cambridge: Massachusetts, MIT Press. Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. London: Penguin Books. Draper, J. (1977). “The Ecole de Beaux-Arts and the architectural profession in the United States: the case of John Galen Howard”. In: Kostof, S., The Architect. Chapters in the History of the Profession. New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press. Poincaré, H. (1905). La valeur de la science. Paris: Flammarion. Hinton, G.E., Anderson, J.A. (1989). Parallel Models of Associative Memories. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


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Anderson, J. (1993). The Rules of the Mind. London: Routledge. Ballard, D. (2015). Brain Computation as Hierarchical Abstraction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Rowe, P.G. (1986). Design Thinking. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Jones, J.C. (1970-1992). Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures. New York: Wiley and Sons. Lawson B. (1980-2005). How Designers Think. The Design Process Demystified. London: Routledge. Broadbent, G., Ward, A., Editors (1969). Design Methods in Architecture. London: Lund Humphries, 1969 Jarzombek, M. (2014). Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective. New York: Wiley & Sons. Petroski, H. (1982). To Engineer is Human. New York: Vintage Books. Steadman, P. (2008). The Evolution of Designs. London: Routledge. Petroski, H. (1993). The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artefacts - From Forks and Pins to Paperclips and Zippers - Came to Be as They Are. New York: Vintage Books. Gould, S.J. (2007). Punctuated Equilibrium. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Gropius, W. (1955). The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Boston: Branford. Koonin, E.V., Wolf, Y.I. (2009). “Is evolution Darwinian or/and Lamarckian?”. Biology Direct, 4:42. DOI: 10.1186/1745-61504-42 Simon, H.A. (1996). The Science of the Artificial, 3rd ed.


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Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ong, W. (1982). Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen Publishing. Alexander, C. (1979). The Timeless Way of Building. New York: Oxford University Press USA. Alexander, C. (1977). A Pattern Language. Towns, Buildings, Construction. New York: Oxford University Press USA.


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Fumihiko Maki, Zeebrugge Sea Port Terminal, 1989.


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Jacopo Leveratto Another Roadside Attraction

Jacopo Leveratto is a lecturer and assistant professor of Architecture of Interiors at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano.

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Bernard Khoury, B018 Music Club, Beirut, 1998.


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To begin, let us take a quick tour, which goes from Lebanon to Texas. The starting point is in Beirut, at B018, a subterranean music club located along a highway, and designed in 1998 by Bernard Khoury as a scar on the ground, in an area wiped out by the 1976’s war. A concrete disc slightly above the street level, otherwise invisible, which only comes alive in the late hours of the night, when its retracting metal roof, fashioned like a vault gate, opens the club to the city, and the carousel of cars, moving through the concentric parking lot, frames it with an iridescent crown of lights. The final destination is instead in the desert of Marfa, just off U.S. Highway 90, northwest of Valentine, where Elmgreen and Dragset in 2007 realized a particular land art intervention in the middle of nowhere. A permanent sculptural installation, built as a precise replica of a Prada storefront, displaying real wares, shoes, and handbags, and designed to be slowly corroded and buried by wind and sand. It is an ideal path, of course, but what these places have in common, despite their innumerable differences, is not only that they are located along a major transport infrastructure, namely a highway.


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Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa, 2005.


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Rather, it is the fact that, instead of working as a facility for the infrastructure, they exploit it as a service for their work, acting as centripetal nodes of a system. Thus, blurring the boundaries of role between waypoints and destinations, which today can no longer be taken for granted in this relationship. Not that this represents something entirely new. From an architectural point of view, the story of this blur is in fact that of a particular typology, that of “roadside attractions,” which has been widely popular in the United States of the mid-twentieth century. Especially after the publication of Tom Robbins’ novel and John Margolies’ pictures. Everything began during the 1920s, when American entrepreneurs, given the increasing convenience of long-distance road travels, started building facilities to attract tourists, like restaurants, motels, and diners, by making use of a new form of architectural language. Up-scaling, for instance, common objects to the size of a building, typically referring to the goods sold there. But also realizing miniature replicas of the historical monuments that could be found in the offing or arranging real amusement parks linked to the most disparate themes,


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from World’s Largest Dinosaurs to Secret Caverns. Until the construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, in the mid-1950s, bypassed most of roadside attractions and pushed them out of business. Thus, informally replacing a varied landscape made of a whole repertoire of “duck” buildings, as Robert Venturi called novelty or mimic architectures, with an ordered series of identical structures, aimed at offering the same experience at a predetermined travel distance, regardless of their location. This, however, did not solely concern the American context. Throughout the world, in the same period, the construction of highways started prompting the replacement of roadside attractions with other types of structures, such as rest areas and service stations, which were characterized by a totally different character. Enclaves, from a territorial point of view, which had to be accessible only from the toll road, with no possible exceptions, and whose location had to be dictated by their mutual distances, measured in terms of time travel. Commercial structures, from a functional one, which had to provide travelers with the essential facilities they could need, whether it was fast fuel, cheap


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Long Island Duck, Long Island, NY. Photo by John Margolies, ca. 1976.


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food, or a kitsch souvenir, without ever leaving the way. But also, icons, or objects of a no longer mimetic form of total design, where each detail, from furniture to signage to uniforms, always identical, had to give priority to the image of the owning company and its recognizability. All features that have determined the definition of a purely introverted typology, based on the marketing logics of uniformity, repetition, and corporate identity, which in few years has equipped highways with a refined but limited catalogue of service facilities. And which today has lost much of its fashion, due to the same factors that initially concurred to its adoption and success. Highways are in fact not so different from what they were fifty years ago, but automobiles evolved immensely during the same time lapse, especially for what concerns reliability and habitability. And since car travels are remarkably faster and incomparably more comfortable, people tend to stop much less frequently, and very rarely because of the specific location of rest areas, as they do not offer anything different one from another. Thus, in the last few years, the crisis of the sector has pushed companies, and by consequence


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also architects and designers, to explore different possibilities to overcome the impasse, which eventually took two main directions. A first one, which could be exemplified by the work of Jürgen Mayer H. for Georgian highways, focusing on streamlining the operations of planning, design, and construction of rest areas and service stations, by making use of repeatable elements and serialized components. And a second one, of which it is possible to find trace in the projects implemented within the framework of the Norwegian National Tourist Routes program, attempting to open them to the territorial systems in which they are included, enabling new and unexpected possibilities of exchange. Exploiting, in other terms, connection and accessibility as added values to their specific and independent missions, which today are increasingly central, in light of a new way of meaning mobility. Electric mobility is in fact rapidly changing the idea of “rest” in rest areas and, with it, also their spatial definition. This is because electric vehicles can be recharged while they are simply parked, reducing the


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OMA, Zeebrugge Sea Port Terminal, 1989.


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need for spaces specifically dedicated to this function. But, at the same time, the entire process is remarkably longer, taking more than the few moments necessary for the gas supply, up to forty-five minutes. And this is pushing companies and designers to imagine a different use of time at the service station, in light of longer stops. Figuring out, in few words, some functions and meanings that can transform rest areas from a facility to a catalyst, thus turning infrastructure from a simple connection to a real place. A new model that could attract people, because of the uniqueness they can showcase, both in relation with the landscape in which the areas are immersed and in the areas themselves. For this reason, the most innovative projects in this field are trying to test the spatial polyvalence of these places, working on mixed functional programs that combine car recharge with production facilities, exhibition areas, markets, hostels, or playgrounds. As well as they are attempting to link the definition of these programs with the specificities of the surrounding territory, informally following a model that, despite being little known, has already been very well defined.


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Fumihiko Maki, Zeebrugge Sea Port Terminal, 1989.


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Everything began in Belgium, in 1989, during the competition for Zeebrugge Sea Ferry Terminal, which is still vividly remembered because of Rem Koolhaas’ proposal to vertically articulate all the mobility flows within an inverted cone. In this occasion, in fact, Fumihiko Maki presented another kind of project, which worked on the topic of infrastructural facilities, by reflecting on new models of contemporary leisure by means of articulation. The basement of the building, perfectly circular in shape and crowned by a floor of concentric parking spots, gathered all the main activities related to circulation. While on top of it, onto a huge artificial platform, Maki created a landscape of freestanding elements and ocean-related shapes, like the big wheel, the tower, and the sail roof, to activate a new type of touristic place. One in which people could not only find the adequate facilities to commute, but also a restaurant, a pool, a gym, a garden, cafes, and a panoramic wheel. All of them arranged as in an amusement park, in-between Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, Archigram’s Instant City, and Kenzo Tange’s project for the bay of Tokyo. In the same attempt of transforming the terminal into


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a catalyst for new and heterogeneous functions and unexpected uses that would have been experimented, some years later, as a strategic program by Japanese government. The story, in this case, is that of Michi-no-Eki, a system of government-designated and privately-run rest areas for Japanese roads and highways, which was launched in the early 2000 to create a safe, comfortable road traffic environment, and unique, lively spaces to showcase the individuality of different regions. The idea was, in addition to providing places for travelers to rest, to also promote local tourism and trade, by including cultural centers, tourist attractions, recreation and other local development facilities that could encourage interaction with the territory. And the result has been an impressive series of structures, each one different from the others, in which travelers can find not only parking, public toilets, and shops selling local products, snacks, and souvenirs, but also a series of complementary spaces for the most disparate activities. One located near a shore, for instance, provides a private access to the beach, hotel rooms, and surf courses, while others can include thermal


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baths, fish markets, movie theaters, rollercoasters, or stations for hiking. Working both as centripetal nodes of a larger system and as permeable interfaces with its territorial background. And opening up further reflections on multifunctional and inhabitable infrastructures and their typological hybridization, which today appears crucial to the survival and development of these spaces. Yet, it must be said that no architectural realization in this field shows some kind of quality even comparable to Maki’s model, as they usually mix up, in a sort of random aggregation, layouts and languages typical of single commercial facilities. But probably another form of roadside attraction, in-between a waypoint and a destination, does not need to emerge from a revival of novelty architecture. On the contrary, it is likely to be defined by the approach that Maki and his predecessors, as well as many successors from Diller and Scofidio to Studio Muoto, have used when dealing with mixed programs, polyvalence, and hybridization, which is that of meaning the building and its architecture as a device. A device, in fact, cannot be included in a typological


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catalogue, as it can only be described as a thing for doing something, and something that, in general terms, cannot even be defined in functional terms, otherwise it would be named after it. Thus, a “device building” is a building that takes on its symbolic value in relation with its being a mechanism for doing something. And more precisely for activating a process that involves transcending a predetermined function to enable new and unprecedented possibility of use. All of this through a catalog of possible options, a series of questions, and experimental hypotheses, sometimes complementing or alternating each other, which can further be deepened to explore the new relationships between infrastructures and architectures that emerge from their changing mutual dependence.


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References Berre, N., Lysholm, H. (2008). Detour: Architecture and Design along 18 National Tourist Routes. Oslo: Statens vegvesen, Nasjonale turistvegar. Elmgreen, M., Dragset, I. (2007). Elmgreen and Dragset: Prada Marfa. Berlin: Buchhandlung Walther Konig. Khoury, B. (2001). “Club B018 Beirut.” Casabella 65: 80. Lim, C. J. (2017). Inhabitable Infrastructures: Urban Future or Science Fiction. London-New York: Routledge. Maki, F. (1997). Fumihiko Maki: Buildings and Projects. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Margolies, J. (1981). The End of the Road: Vanishing Highway Architecture in America. New York: Penguin Books. Marling, K. A. (1984). The Colossus of Roads: Myth and Symbol Along the American Highway. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Robbins, T. (1971). Another Roadside Attraction. New York: Doubleday. Venturi, R., Scott Brown, D., Izenour, S. (1972). Learning from Las Vegas. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.


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Julio Cortázar, Carol Dunlop, Los autonautas de la cosmopista, Muchnik Editores, 1983.


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Monica Manfredi The Dimension of Time

Monica Manfredi is a PhD architect based in Milan, an adjunct professor of Buidling Technology at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano.

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With their red Volkswagen Combi van, Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop (Cortázar, Dunlop 2012) decide to undertake a journey on the Paris-Marseille route, taking a month instead of the usual 10 hours. The Autonauts of the Cosmos Road, in contravention of the possibility of staying on the motorway for no more than two days, invent a sort of game with precise rules that order their journey time and require everything to be noted down in a meticulous logbook four-handed. You cannot leave the highway; you have to stop at all 65 rest areas, two per day; you can use services offered and have food aid brought by friends twice at most. The diary of the expedition describes the transformation of the sense of the journey that takes place through a surreal dilation of time. The 800 kilometers of highway become a place where a piece of life, an experience, an exploration can occur, not just an infrastructure to be covered in the shortest possible time to arrive as soon as possible. The available time thus establishes different opportunities for fruition and perception introducing new potentialities of interpretation and invention about living places. The theme of time, in many of its meanings useful to


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describe human events, is a substantial foundation of architectural design. Time "as the past, present, and future" is the "structural material of architectural projects as well as space, place, and use" (Gregotti 2020). Time is, therefore, the constant that I like to recognize in all the themes that have been proposed in the Architectural Design Studio held by Alessandro Rocca and Gian Luca Brunetti, time as a substantial character explored in many of its different meanings. In the video presentation of the Studio, the four themes are suggested to students are listed to orient their work on the proposed project areas, which are the service stations along the A7 Milan-Genoa: _ "implementation" of service areas "to give the drivers a new perception of the service area, and a new environment, less derived from the functionalist aspects, more integrated with the landscape, and richer, in terms of public spaces, facilities, interactions." _ "open and integrate" service areas having "a goal of producing, through the development of new attractions and facilities, a strong direct benefit for the surrounding villages, which live separated from the flow of people and money, which runs the highway, and remain


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Gas Station in Pittsburg, 1913.

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Ragsdale and Hansen’s Station No. 1., Los Angeles, ca.1920-1929.

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B.J. Meerman and Johan van der Pijll, Auto Palace service station for Texaco, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 1936.


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isolated from the metropolitan system." _ "energy" that is "if we guess that, in a few years, all vehicles will be equipped with electrically powered engines, the ordinary gasoline service will disappear … This entails that we can imagine longer stops, and different use of time, waiting for the completion of the electrical supply." _ "Fragility" about the fact that "in the last years, the infrastructural system shows serious problems of endurance and safety. Collapses of viaducts, bridges, tunnels, clear that the entire system, often more than 50 years old, is aging…" (Rocca 2020). The service station project has a direct relationship to time, with which architecture naturally and inevitably relates. Still, the fact that the theme of time is straightforward and evident makes the proposed exercise particularly effective in introducing the student to the complexity of architecture. Time is the relationship with history, observation of changing tastes and social customs, a search for opportunities for the future of living, and a space-time relationship and travel speed to which different levels of perception and experience are linked. Time is also


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a factor in the aging and deterioration of structures and materials and the duration of the stay in a place that makes it possible to use it differently. The theme of service stations thus offers to the exercise of project opportunities of experimentation and at the same time inevitably requires maintaining a relationship with history and imagining a vision of a possible future. The search for a new coherence within the language of architecture itself defines the project that legitimizes its formal and figurative characteristics in the needs and reference conditions driven, in this case, by technological innovation. In the course of their exercise, the students have at the same time defined "the technical bases of the design proposal through a performance-based approach, striving for appropriateness, sustainability, and constructability"(Brunetti 2020). They were invited to evaluate the technological opportunities existing in the present and become aware of the consequences of the technical and constructional design choices on the formal and figurative architecture outcome. The students have grasped the complexity of the proposed exercise. They have found themselves


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Arne Jacobsen, Skovshoved Petrol Station, Copenhagen, 1936.

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Arne Jacobsen, Skovshoved Petrol Station, Copenhagen, 1936.


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looking at the subject of architectural design through many opportunities for reflection and practice in the discipline, with the ambitious objective, specific to architectural design, of proposing transformations aimed at building a corresponding and better future. One of the points of observation from which to start was advertising architecture, such as the Pavesi bridge buildings or the beautiful Autogrill designed by Angelo Bianchetti. This highway architecture clearly characterizes and marks the service area and its operator. The advertising architecture recalls the scenes when the journey was an event, and then stop at the service area was a happy moment of brief respite. Service areas mean a short break between departure and arrival, a manifesto of the heroic years of the economic boom when journeys were a significant event in daily life. In those times, journeys were longer because of the cars' lower performance, speed, and comfort. Service areas were places of assistance and refreshment for travelers and their vehicles, symbols of modernity and the emerging consumer society at a time of unconscious happy reckless optimism. The regeneration, redevelopment, and innovation of


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service stations naturally have to do with the past, the present, and the future of the transformations linked to the technical innovation and inevitably affects the new scenario of meaning that the infrastructure can assume with a different and innovative interpretation of them. "In this sense, service areas and the highway itself may act - and be designed - as the nodes and the backbone of territorial systems enabling the circulation of resources, waste processing, and the enhancement of ecological networks" (Rocca 2020). Frank Lloyd Wright had already guessed that service stations could become places of an interface between infrastructure and the territory. Service areas were referred to as the "service cities of the future." "The service station is future city service in embryo. Each station that happens to be naturally located will as naturally grow into a neighborhood distribution center, meeting place, restaurant, restroom, or whatever else is needed" (Wright 1970, p. 192). The question of travel time and stopover time is central to the definition of the project scenario. The refueling of electric cars has extended the time spent at the service station. Therefore, the technological evolution of the vehicles


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Arne Jacobsen, Skovshoved Petrol Station, Copenhagen, 1936.

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Giuseppe Pettazzi, Fiat Tagliero Service Station, Asmara, Eritrea, 1938.


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Shell self-service gas station near Purkersdorf, Austria, c1940.

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becomes the opportunity to base a design strategy on possible new uses that are also capable of revalorizing the territory and finding the reasons of necessity for a new architecture. The cars of our immediate future will be electric cars and self-driving cars, connected in 5G with other vehicles and the roads. Signs will change in real-time, car sharing will be widespread, and the car's passenger compartment will be renewed. Now I like to take a step in a probably not so far future where we will go even further: "Mark these words: cars and airplanes will combine. You can smile about it, but it will happen ", Henry Ford stated in 1940 (quoted in Ferrara S. 2020), and then the motorways could become outdated as places of fast mobility to perhaps become areas of slow mobility and be traveled only for sections by VTOL (Vertical take-off and landing) which are cars capable of both flying and moving on the road, the Spinners in the film Blade Runner by Ridley Scott (1982). Then, when these hybrids with wings and wheels become part of our normality, the sense of highway infrastructure will change further. At ground level, the highway from a fast connection infrastructure could become a slow connection


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infrastructure and become a place where things even different from the transit of vehicles happen. The infrastructure could thus forge a further link with the territory and become a sort of out-of-scale high line on which to graft a cycle route similar to the VENTO cycle route (Pileri 2015) to produce new tourism in the fragile areas of the territory excluded from development. It would remain a tape, a sort of map, a material trace to be read from an aerial point of view for the new transport vehicle. Here returns the theme of measuring time spent traveling and of slow or fast mobility conditioning perception. Speed changes the perception of architecture and territory, but architecture can also give a perception of speed. If we think of Jean Nouvel's red kilometer on the A4, it looks like a device for measuring travel speed which can be calculated about the time spent alongside the moving car. But the perception in motion is also a way of knowledge as a sum in memory of instantaneous visions. So Giedion writes about the only possible understanding of a parkway: "..the meaning and beauty of the parkway cannot be grasped from a single point of observation, as was possible when from a window of the


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château of Versailles the whole expanse of nature could be embraced in one view. It can be revealed only by movement, by going along in a steady flow as the rules of the traffic prescribe. The space-time feeling of our period can seldom be felt so keenly as when driving, the wheel under one's hand, up and down hills, beneath overpasses, up ramps, and over giant bridges" (Giedion, 1954, pp. 729-730). Also, the highway, although not built with the criteria of a parkway design, "can be revealed only by movement" and leads the traveler in a visit to the territory at different possible speeds of go and stop. The journey duration and the perception of places, in the function of the movement speed, refer to travel as an experience of knowledge. In the film Tokyo Ride by Bêka & Lemoine, winner of the Milan Design Film Festival 2020, the Japanese architect Ryūe Nishizawa takes us to make a visit in black and white to Tokyo with his Alfa Romeo Giulia vintage while he is giving an interview. The car and its speed are a condition of the experience. The camera frames the city and its infrastructures. The moving image behind the windowpanes gradually takes on the dimension of a


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story that stratifies the experience of visiting the city in the memory. Gradually, the dimension of the journey is built up, with its legs, stops for refreshments, refueling, visits to houses and architecture, to his and Kazuyo Sejima's studio, and thus the dimension of exploration and discovery. Here too, as in "The Autonauts of the Cosmos Road," the story takes the form of a logbook, and the film's editing divides the shots with white titles on a black background to present the journey as a succession of episodes. The knowledge in motion of the places at different speeds dictated by the vehicle and the possibilities granted by the characteristics of the road, leads back to the knowledge that arises as a sum of momentary visions accumulated in the memory within the dimension of time. It is the same experience that Giedion describes about driving along an American parkway in the 1940s; it is the same experience of knowledge that is structured within the dimension of time in proceeding with the architectural project.


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Bibliography Giedion S., Space, Time and Architecture; the Growth of a New Tradition, Harvard university Press, Cambridge, Mass, U.S.A., 1954, (1st edition March 1941). Wright F. L., The future of architecture, New American Library, New York and Toronto, 1970, (1st edition Horizon Press, New York, 1953) Appleyard D., Lynch K., Myer J.R., The View from the Road, MIT Press, 1964 Julio Cortàzar, Carol Dunlop, Los autonautas de la cosmopista, viaje atemporal París-Marsella, 1982 Pileri P., Giacomel A., Giudici D., Vento, The gentle revolution cycling its way through the landscape, Corraini Edition, Milan, 2015 Desando C., L’auto del futuro come sarà, i modelli e le tecnologie utilizzate, EconomyUp, august 2019, https://www. economyup.it/automotive/lauto-del-futuro-come-sara-imodelli-e-le-tecnologie-utilizzate/ Ferrara S., Autovolanti sempre più vicine: prototipi e studi tra realtà e fantascienza, Gazzetta motori, 23 march 2020 https://www.gazzetta.it/motori/la-mia-auto/22-03-2020/autovolanti-prototipi-3601909688917.shtml Facchinelli L., Architettura lungo le autostrade, Trasporti e cultura n.58, Venezia, 2020, www.trasportiecultura.net Gregotti V., Tempo e progetto, Skira, Milan, 2020. Video presentation, Architectural Design Studio, Alessandro Rocca and Gian Luca Brunetti, 2020-2021, Politecnico di Milano, https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/c17cd2fc916a-4c35-b0cc-4436f13c19ab.


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Parkway, RW 4, Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands, 1958.

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Luca Negrini An Architectural Future for the Highways

Luca Negrini is an architect based in Bologna, tutor of Architectural Design at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano.


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While mobility and its technology are evolving at a challenging high speed, exciting questions and visions for the next future, which is already amongst us, are rising, and we expect obvious and solid answers. Our whole future depends if we will be able to move around, communicate, travel, and connect. Therefore, we understand how important and relevant it can be to study how physical and digital infrastructures, which should be considered equally fundamental, will appear and show themselves to us, which shape they will have and how different from what we know nowadays and what we meet in our every day’s life. Speaking of communication, connections, and traveling, one of the themes that become very actual is related to mobility and, more precisely, cars. The course has had the aim of finding answers to questions that concern the future of mobility and aspects related to it, through a very realistic approach, with some urge of placing some correct methods in facing the new features of what a Rest Area is, thought as the place that we all know as the fast, drive through the element of the highway.


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The rest area is a small aspect of the broader theme of mobility, but it becomes attractive due to its impact on our habits and, more importantly, on the landscape of the highways. In a world that tends to get faster and faster, where the amount of time for completing activities is constantly shrinking, the Rest Area becomes an unescapable platform for a slower existence instead, almost as a unique opportunity to try out a slower and maybe fairer pace. Sustainability is expecting electric cars to take over the roads, pushing our minds to forget the images of the car technology that has been known for more than one century, whether we like it or not, whether we feel ready for the change, or not. The theme of Electric mobility, as for the current technology that is available on the market, has to change our perception of the concept of speed. It mostly translates into a complete re-organization of one’s time, agreeing to select time slots of our lives dedicated to new aspects and new functions. We now see as three hours car-recharge time waste that might easily translate into opportunity for quality time, work time, and leisure time. What the course focuses


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on is the envelope to the mentioned systematic reorganization, the architectural fabric that will be the dress to this change. Pragmatically, what are the activities that can be inserted in the rest area? Which activities can take place that can involve people waiting for their car to be fully charged? It is essential to underline that we do not intend the rest area to become an entertainment park for bored drivers, but rather a dynamic opportunity to experience various activities. Many students saw the opportunity to reconnect the rest areas to their surroundings, which often means tiny communities and small towns that, instead of being completely detached, but yet physically very close, to all the services offered by the highway rest area, could establish new links through new pedestrian routes. The proposals were either based on the idea of time, meaning exploiting the time slots that every user would be inevitably spending in the rest area, or the starting point for many other projects was to analyze the characteristics of the place, the local productions, and products that could be used as a base for installing industries, shops and gathering points.


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As a consequence of studying the time matter, proposals of churches have been made, imagining there would be enough time for the user to contemplate and be part of a quiet environment within a traditionally noisy, restless, and fast context. An example was found in the Chiesetta di Sant’Angelo al Cantagallo, a rest area close to the city of Bologna. Built amongst fast-food chains and gas pumps, it might stand as a long-lasting symbolic reminder of certain aspects of life one tends to forget, such as the idea of time. As well as museums for local arts and products could easily take place in such context. Fast as a translation it might seem, the concept could also work due to the poetic and natural surroundings in which it finds itself. The naturalistic environment just mentioned has also been of great inspiration for numerous proposals, when imagining interesting promenades from one side of the highway to the other one, whenever for example there would be a tunnel gallery to hike onto, as it already happens when animal bridges are designed to prevent animals from crossing directly the road and get fatally hurt. Also, local productions through industries placed


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by the rest area, designed with visitable zones and museum-like promenades, entertain and show the visitors how certain products are made, produced, and packed. Silent water park promenades, hostels, spiritual places, shops, indoor farming plants, energy production, bio farming are just a few of the great possibilities that have been proposed. The rest area, intended as a virgin platform to host various activities, almost comparable as a stage for many artists, is the perfect canvas to numerous possibilities due to its natural context and its loud soul. What mattered to the master studio was, of course, the process that every single student created in order to reach the final proposal, but mainly its architectural expression. The proposal had to respect proportions, materials, size, and functionality in order to be successful. Apart from the sweet and beautiful nature, the roughness of the area itself indeed drove many proposals to look for architectural solutions that could steadily position themselves in such loud, dusty, and heavy weighted context. Materic facades, hard surfaces, metallic and


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Melchiorre Bega, Church of Sant'Angelo, Cantagallo (A1), 1966.

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concrete structures were therefore mainly taken into consideration, responding correctly to the need of the place. The extent of the research was limited to certain areas belonging to the Milano Genova highway, starting a conversation that could be extended and have a much broader impact. What if, with a joint effort amongst universities, a national map of the Italian highways and all the rest areas would be created, with numerous such projects. It could create a solid catalog and consequently an architectural language, an architectural movement belonging strictly to the highway that would translate into various formal and technical expressions along with the country, even if with common starting points such as sounds, nature, speed, and similar fundamental premises, such as: how to imagine the future of the highways?


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Francesca Zanotto Gates to the Territory. Beyond a Linear Experience of the Highway

Francesca Zanotto, architect PhD, is a tutor of Architectural Design at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, and a postdoctoral researcher at Università Iuav di Venezia.


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A la folie, Project by Guita Herro, Ana Kapsarova, Sebastián Díaz Reverón.


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Throughout the 20th century, the Italian highway network has been the reflection of the country’s progressive modernization. From the realization of the first spans and the major works of the Fascist era to the post-war reconstruction project of a nationally extended road network, the motorway system keeps up with technological, economical, and social changes happening in the country, facing another, upcoming metamorphosis. The attention towards the use of renewable energies, the digitalization of many services, the outburst of e-commerce, the quest for alternative and more sustainable forms of travel, the uncertainty of future scenarios are just some of the factors leading the national infrastructure towards the performance of new roles and the embodiment of updated values. Part of this evolution in the conception of infrastructure is the idea of the inclusion of “minor” areas in its interest scope. From a heavy, rigid corridor connecting major cities and thus cutting out whole territorial stretches – left behind in economic, cultural, and social terms – the capillary highway system lends itself to work as the crucial backbone of a synergic strategy involving goods, energy, and resources and optimizing


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their exchange and distribution among the areas it crosses. Urban Metabolism studies look at the city as an organism consuming resources, processing materials and energy, and producing waste. The same approach can be adopted within the intervention in nonurban territories. Throughout the two editions of the Architectural Design Studio focused on the A7 highway, involved students developed their design projects around this possibility, turning the A7 into the circulation artery of a territorial metabolism triggering a beneficial diffusion of energies, capitals, resources. The inner areas of the Scrivia Valley and the Ligurian Appennines have been studied in their topographical characteristics, landscape and naturalistic qualities, productive facilities locations, tourist routes to disclose opportunities for the optimization of the use of local resources, the exploitation of specific favorable circumstances, and the mitigation of localized liabilities. This analysis provided insights about main design challenges and key locations to intervene with architectural projects, to stop and invert the fragilization process happening in these areas.


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The service station along the highway was the focus of the Design Studio: intended as a device able to catalyze different fields of action and trigger processes of territorial revitalization, was deconstructed by students’ projects in its character, passing from being the place for a brief pause in a straight path, bringing travelers and commuters from point A to point B, to be a gate to the surrounding territory, opening to a transversal experience of the linear space of the highway. The outcome of this approach is a series of relational projects, breaking the top-down rhetoric of the great plan with punctual interventions that intercept local energies remaining connected, anyway, to global ecologies and economies. The current typological homogeneity of service stations is sacrificed in favor of site-specificness: these projects are prototypes, developed to be ideally repeated in different locations, but many of them are too intertwined with specific territorial features to work somewhere else. Ideally designed for the inner areas of Scrivia Valley, many of them are expressly devised to activate local synergies, generate value and start microeconomies in the currently underpopulated and abandoned


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countryside of the Ligurian Appennines, suffering from the closeness of big attractors as Genoa and the metropolitan area of Milan. These projects overturn the movement towards the urban density, declaring the rarefied, well-connected, and quickly accessible side of the highway as the place where things happen. The impressive variety of innovative programs proposed suggests that the rigid infrastructural space is still, as it was in the 50s, a potential place for genuine experimentation, in terms of services and form. The Design Studio produced a compelling catalog of architectural concepts making fun of typologies, experimenting with new possibilities. The space of the highway, although austere and highly regulated, imposes very few models and narrations, leaving freedom of innovation. Even the landmark value carried by Angelo Bianchetti’s design in Giovi rest area is metabolized into something different: the longdistance visual communication system is not devoted to broadcast a brand, but signals territorial values and opportunities. Among the main triggers for a reconfiguration of service areas’ spatial arrangements, functions, and


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use patterns is the change in the timing of the stop: the switch from a refueling of cars to other forms of energy supply, as electrical recharging, is a gamechanger which may entail a prolonged stay at the rest stop, opening to new possibilities of use for service buildings and their surroundings. This stretching of the stop time frame along the travel promotes slowness in the temple of speed, making room for leisure, rest, and discovery in an environment designed around efficiency and quickness. This turnaround brings back in the service station those roles envisioned by Pietro Porcinai for rest stops along the A22 highway, opposed “to the attitude generally adopted in Italy towards motorway buildings and related parking areas, which rather looked to the American model of symbolic and advertising architecture that offered itself in proximity of the motorway and built its front relating to it” (Zanda, 2020). An example of this attitude are the service stations designed by Angelo Bianchetti, while Porcinai would promote rest areas as places designed for the pleasure and rest of motorists, “achieved by opening the service areas towards the landscape in the opposite direction to the motorway” and by providing


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Project by Yu Miao, Li Linmei, Chen Bowen.

“playgrounds for children and motor gymnastics to restore physical fitness after having been forced into cars for many hours” (from Porcinai’s letter to Ing. Moroder dated 2 September 1972; Pietro Porcinai Archive, Fiesole, ref. 3452 SP; in Zanda, 2020). About some projects The projects developed by students recover this attention to the quality of drivers’ experience of the rest areas, while strictly referring to the highway in spatial and formal terms. Miao Yu, Bowen Chen, and Linmei Li designed a concrete, organic shell around the road hosting in a fluid landscape a series of services from short, to medium, to long stays. A market space, where villagers can sell their goods directly from the trunk of their car; a drive-in, where drivers can enjoy a movie while their car is recharged; a pool, to exercise and take a break from the heath of the highway; a camping space,


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where is possible to spend the night in a hybrid, manmade nature. Ziqi Cui, Shuqing Chen, and Suofeiya Nanxi play in the expanded time frame to allow drivers to increase their knowledge about the motorway: around a courtyard, a library and an archive center slow down the speed of motorists’ travel offering the possibility to refer documents about the history of the infrastructure while nearby, an accident museum is an exhibition space showcasing data regarding the accidents caused by highway damage in Italian history. Some projects are configured as attractive stations of territorial accessibility, welcoming travelers with facilities acting as educational points and interchange terminals. Here cars are left behind, undergoing electric recharge or maintenance, and visitors are guided to explore the surrounding hills by foot or other means. This may happen, as in the project by Martina Chiappe,


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Project by Ziqi Cui, Shuqing Chen, Suofeiya Nanxi.

Caterina Santini, and Sara Agour for the Campora rest area, in a row of aligned volumes acting as a gate to the landscape. Two twin buildings, on both sides of the highway, are the keystones of a transversal path crossing the surrounding landscape and the infrastructure thanks to a suspended bridge. Differently, Beatrice Garampelli and Elizabeth Heidenreich envision for the same spot a topographical architecture, building a threshold between the open-air highway and the entrance to the “October 28th” gallery. This “connective limit” provides an inhabited and serviced interface between the highway, the tunnel, and the landscape.


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Project by Martina Chiappe, Caterina Santini, Sara Agour.

Other projects catch the dilated time frame provided by the electric recharging as an opportunity to, instead, intertwine drivers’ stops with a new productive fabric, bringing new blood to this fragile territory. The chocolate factory envisioned by Nicolò Mariani, Christian Spolti, and Lorenzo Turnaturi is an accessible productive facility where the contemporary notion of the industry is embodied in three inscrutable volumes, characterizing Vocemola rest stop as discreet landmarks. Below the highway, a public slab connects the detached bodies and enables visitors to experience in different forms the industrial space, turning the


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Project by Beatrice Garampelli, Elizabeth Heidenreich.

stop into an opportunity for a unique experience. In the same area, the experience of production finds a variation in the agricultural hub designed by Pietro Dallera, Andrea Frontani, and Alessandro Ricci. A huge, semi-transparent shed displays along the highway the show of production: digital agriculture, proposed as the driving force of the recovery for these fragile lands. Outside, this mega structure ditches any reference to human scale; inside, a complex of biology and chemistry labs, conference rooms, offices, agricultural showrooms, indoor gardens and orchards, co-workings, and educational spaces exchanges heath and energy


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Project by Nicolò Mariani, Christian Spolti, Lorenzo Turnaturi.

with a big data center, the structural backbone of the building. The agricultural hub joins up different scales and domains: spaces designed and sized for humans in a complex referring to the measure of the highway and the territory, hiding a rigid core – the data center – where the “server rack replaces the human body as the benchmark for design” (Groen, Kuijpers, 2020) and the human presence is “increasingly incidental” (Pestellini Laparelli, 2019). The design for humans and the post-human architecture – that defined by Rem Koolhaas “for things and machines” (AMO, Koolhaas, 2020) – meet also in


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Project by Pietro Dallera, Andrea Frontani, Alessandro Ricci.

Federico Spiaggi’s and Giacomo Tomaini’s logistical tower. For Campora service station, their project envisions a shipping and delivery hub serving the scattered settlements in the surrounding and lightening nearby cities by the pressure of the “last mile”, the final leg of parcels’ travels: “the squads of trucks and vans, the parcel hubs and sorting centres, the parking snarls and the discarded boxes” (Subramanian, 2019) caused by the handling of parcels headed in these areas anyway. The tower innovates the architecture of logistics, usually stretching out on huge floorplans transversed by forklifts and robotic pickers sliding on smooth


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Project by Federico Spiaggi, Giacomo Tomaini.

floors: the vertical hub for deliveries involves in the picture transport by drones, offering an aerial show to drivers passing by. The lockers embedded in the tower are dedicated to the inhabitants of the surroundings, gathering here to pick up and deliver packages. This experiment aims to redefine the architecture of logistical facilities, potentially resulting in “other societal assemblages” (Otero Verzier, 2019). Moving away from the urban congestion and conveniently meeting along the highway to perform quick gatherings and attend events is a recurring proposal in many projects.


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Project by Jiayi Yan, Wenkai Wang, Chenyu Hu.

One among many: Jiayi Yan, Wenkai Wang, and Chenyu Hu propose for Campora rest area a slab suspended above the highway, housing an art gallery and a space for events, meetings, and talks, deflating the polarized cultural supremacy of Milan and Genoa with an unexpected point of reference for arts and public debate among the Ligurian Appennines. The same project includes a residence for artists, reachable from the service station but immersed in the woods on the hill above the rest area: a possibility to experience remote living, without losing the convenience of the connection.


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The tension to efficiency sought after by contemporary service station design is finally defused by Guita Herro’s, Ana Kapsarova’s, and Sebastián Díaz Reverón’s project. The amusement park they propose for Giovi area exploits the recharging and servicing time to offer drivers access to something carefully designed out by the over-efficient technical domain of the highway: fun. The funfair dismantles the pressure to over-productivity of the digital era, where the worker can be – and therefore, is – always available and always on duty. In this groundbreaking proposal, drivers can experience during their travel a break for the entertainment of


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A la folie, project by Guita Herro, Ana Kapsarova, Sebastián Díaz Reverón.

the body, left aside by the patterns of intellectual jobs performed remotely. À La Folie amusement park radically embodies the opportunities that the infrastructure may offer in the next future: a space of experimentation around forms and functions, enabling updated ways to live the territory beyond a linear experience of the highway.


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Bibliography AMO and Koolhaas, Rem (2020). Countryside: A Report. Cologne: Taschen. Groen, Ludo, and Kuijpers, Marten (2020). “Automated Landscapes and the Human Dream of Relentlessness”, Strelka Mag, March 03, available online at: https://strelkamag.com/ en/article/reporting-from-automated-landscapes (accessed June 04, 2021). Otero Verzier, Marina (2019). “Logistics”, in Giudici, Maria Sheherazade, ed., AA Files 76. London: AA Publications. Pestellini Laparelli, Ippolito (2019). “Data Matter”, Flash Art 326, June-Aug, available online at: https://flash---art.com/ article/data-matter/ (accessed June 04, 2021). Subramanian, Samanth (2019). “How our home delivery habit reshaped the world”, The Guardian, November 21, available online at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/ nov/21/how-our-home-delivery-habit-reshaped-the-world (accessed June 04, 2021). Zanda, Claudia (2020). The Architecture of a Motorway. Between Maintenance and Preservation. Siracusa: Letteraventidue.


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04/ADS - Scrivia Service Area.

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Projects

A7 Scrivia Service Area

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08/ADS - Scrivia Service Area Site.

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09/ADS - Scrivia Service Area. Orography.


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02/ADS, Valle Scrivia, site survey.

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01/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area

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02/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area

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04/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area. Highway Oasis.

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07/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area. Learn, Plant, Grow.

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08/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area. Tension and Vibration.

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09/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area. Green again.

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11/ADS - Valle Scrivia Service Area.

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Projects

04/TP: Nicolò Mariani, Christian Spolti, Lorenzo Turnaturi. Valle Scrivia Service Area.

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Projects

04/TP: Nicolò Mariani, Christian Spolti, Lorenzo Turnaturi. Valle Scrivia Service Area.

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Projects

01/TP: Manuel Benedettini, Valle Scrivia Service Area.

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Projects

A7 Giovi Service Area

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06/ADS - Giovi Service Area. The Dissassembled House.

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12/ADS: Giovi Service Area. Flowing Line Park.

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12/ADS: Giovi Service Area. Flowing Line Park.

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14/ADS: Giovi Service Area. Bianchetti Rest Area.

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Giovi - Ronco Scrivia, being a major railroad juction point between Genoa and Turin, it was heavily bombed by Alied planes during the late World War II. Giovi is an Inner Area. Why an Inner Area National Strategy? To give true content to the EU Cohension Policy Territorial Objective.To overcome the rural-urban dichotomy. To empower territories and people to restore growth and welbeing over marginalized area, recognizing their diversity. To recover non-valorized natural and cultural assests, reducing territories depopulation and consequent abandonment costs.


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Program for Giovi stop We choose an existing economic facilitiy since our strategy will be based on circular economy. Multi-fund attitudes and participatory approach to local development can be enhanced. A greenhouse (to steer the market and local producers) for connecting producer with customers has a temporary section which exhibits industrial and agricultural products has an office section for meetings. A retail store (to serve basic needs) for both customers who come for rose activities for travelers. A rose museum (to give a vision to local area) for enhancing local traditions.

16/ADS: Giovi Service Area. Rose Center.


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10/ADS - Campora Service Area. Orography.

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A7 Campora Service Area

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01/ADS - Campora Service Area

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03/ADS - Campora Service Area. Dining beside the Highway.

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03/ADS - Campora Service Area. Dining beside the Highway.

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05/ADS - Campora Service Area. Non Place.

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10/ADS - Campora Service Area. Taste Valpolcevera.

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13/ADS - Campora Service Area.

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Conceptual Diagram The original conception and elements of Architecture: 1, Use many bridge like structures to develop our space. 2, Create some high-rise venues to liberate people's vision. 3, Some trees pass through the building to make the building integrate with nature.


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15/ADS: Campora Service Area.

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The archive center is located in the southeast of the site. It is a small library which contains lots of reading materials about the history of highway for people to browse and read. Attracting visitors to stay, slow down people's travel speed, so that they can better understand the history of the Italian highway.


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The service center is located in the middle of the site. It includes restaurant, outdoor garden, roof terrace, entertainment center and some service space. In order to create a more comfortable environment, it uses a lot of glass to get a better view on both sides of the highway. And the introduction of green plants into the interior, making the building better combined with nature.

15/ADS: Campora Service Area.


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The rational, objective and pragmatic world that seems to surround and constrain much of today’s civil and structural engineering work has always been the force that has legitimized its aesthetic and visually anonymous projects. This attitude is a source of strength. As well as the disadvantage: thinking about how highway infrastructure is proliferating, growing thousands of miles per year, without any of the substantive interrogation of design issues normally applied to the simplest of architectural structures. There seems to be a general denial of the realm of appearance whenit comes to engineering projects, even when those projects have a highly visual image.


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02/TP: Du Jan, Campora Service Area.

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A relational architecture, as a limit in between, in the specific meaning of threshold, manifests itself as a single transformative action between the territorial and the architectural scale. An autonomous entity capable of mediating between the antithetical conditions and to regulate the relationships.


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03/TP: Beatrice Garampelli, Elizabeth Heidenreich, Campora Service Area.


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The project is configured as a stereotomic form-structure generated according to an action-reaction principle to the characters of the site conditions.

03/TP: Beatrice Garampelli, Elizabeth Heidenreich, Campora Service Area.


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A single entity, halfway between the infrastructural work and the architectural object, which sees an overlapping of flows, a plurality of accesses and the coexistence of different populati Specifically, this is configured as a stereotomic form-structure generated according to an action-reaction principle to the characters of the two conditions.


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03/TP: Beatrice Garampelli, Elizabeth Heidenreich, Campora Service Area.


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Research

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Reprint

"Infrastructural

systems work like artificial ecologies. They manage the flows of energy and resources on a site, and they direct the density and distribution of a habitat. They create the conditions necessary to respond to incremental adjustments in resource availability, and modify the status of inhabitation in response to changing environmental conditions." (Stan Allen, Infrastructural Urbanism.)


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Stan Allen Infrastructural Urbanism

Infrastructural Urbanism. Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City, 1999; pp. 48-57. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.


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I start with a sequence of three images spanning six decades of the twentieth century: FIRST IMAGE: the bow of an aircraft carrier, shot from below. The bulk of the craft looms over an invisible horizon, a blank open-mouthed face stares back at the viewer. Published in 1935, in a collection edited by Le Corbusier, the caption reads: 'Neptune rises from the sea, crowned with strange garlands, the weapons of Mars.”1 This photograph of the American aircraft carrier USS Lexington stands for a moment in which the technical and the aesthetic formed a unified whole. It presents the instrumentality of advanced engineering design and the organization of the forces of production that made construction at this scale possible – processes inescapably linked to the war machine – as fully integrated into a meaningful cultural and aesthetic framework, even to the point of establishing continuity with classical mythology. SECOND IMAGE: the liner Andrea Doria foundering off the coast of Nantucket in 1956 (taken over twenty years after the first image, still closer in time to the


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heady world of prewar modernism than to our cynical end-of-century postmodernism). Recalling the iconic status of the liner in the theories of modern architecture, this image could be emblematic of the foundering of the modernist project in the postwar era. By 1956, under the shadow of the Cold War, the modernist dream of an integration of technology and aesthetics was no longer believable. The social and technical forces of modernity were about to become detached from the production of images, both in popular and high culture. THIRD IMAGE: B-24 bomber factory in Fort Worth, Texas. This aerial view of the factory floor documents the implementation of the modernist dream of rational production under the pressures of the wartime economy: the precise calibration of material, bodies, and time that allowed such incredibly efficient production – "on the front line, and on the production line," as the promotional copy says. “One 8-24 Bomber every four hours": a mechanical ballet performed in this limpid space of production. The space is the exact counterpart to the rational machines produced within it, organized by the infinite perspective of a perfect panoptic transparency,


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sheltered by the rationaI tectonics of the factory structure itself. However, it is important to note that this image appears not in its original 1940s context, but in the early 1990s, illustrating an advertisement to raise money for the reconstruction of a single B-24 bomber for exhibition purposes. As such, it marks a shift from technologies of production to technologies of reproduction and display. If the factory floor is the ideal space of early modernism, then the museum is the emblematic space postmodernity. It is this perceived failure of the modernist project that serves to legitimate the subsequent turn toward a postmodern culture of abstract signs and surfaces without depth. In architecture, the consequence of the shift from technologies of production to technologies of reproduction was given expression as an architecture that produced meaning by the grafting of conventional signs onto a neutral technical frame. These images mark a shift from models of formal organization and meaning that work with transparency and depth, to a condition of shallow surfaces, in which meaning resides in graphic information lying on the surface. But is it not equally plausible to conceive of this shift


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not as modernism's failure, but as a paradoxical success? Modernity tended toward abstract systems of exchange and serial production. The passage from concrete, material things to ephemeral signs – the dissolution of objects into flows of information – was in many ways already anticipated by the abstract logics of modernity itself. However, the particular form that this transformation takes is not anticipated nor can it ever be fully controlled from within modernism. Some reassessment is required. Postmodernism in architecture is usually associated with a rediscovery of architecture's past. However, an equally important shift preceded and in many ways underwrote the postmodern turn to history at the end of the sixties.2 Postmodernism responded not only to a call to re-inscribe architecture into history, it also responded to a contemporary demand for meaning in architecture. History provided a ready-made catalog of "meaningful" forms, but in order for the past to be appropriated and utilized, it had to be detached from its original context and converted into a sign. More than historical reference, it is the presence of this semiotic/structuralist model that identifies postmodernism in architecture. But once architecture's signifying capacity had been opened up, no


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Louis Kahn: movement diagrams. Philadelphia Planning Study, 1952.


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limit could be placed on signified content. "History" is but one of the many things that a semiotic architecture can signify. This turn toward a semiotic architecture at the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies has itself been subject to intense critical scrutiny – from both a formal and an ideological point of view. But even the most radical critiques have left the fundamental assumption that architecture behaves like a discursive system intact. Deconstruction's radical claim to contest the very possibility of meaning in architecture, for example, was a claim carried out over the territory of meaning and representation, and pays little attention to architecture's instrumentality, or to the complex traffic between representation and materiality. Meaning today may be multiple, contested, contaminated, and partial, but meaning is still the issue. Nevertheless, an architecture that works exclusively in the semiotic register and defines its role as critique, commentary, or even "interrogation" (laying bare of the intricacies of architecture's complicity with power and politics) has, in some fundamental way, given up on the possibility of ever intervening in that reality. Under the


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dominance of the representational model, architecture has surrendered its capacity to imagine, to propose, or to construct alternative realities. As Robin Evans has remarked, a building was once "an opportunity to improve the human condition;" now it is conceived as "an opportunity to express the human condition."3 Architecture is understood as a discursive system that expresses, critiques, or makes apparent the hard realities of a world that is held safely at arm's length. One effect of this shift toward images and signs is that architecture's disciplinary frame shifts. It finds itself in competition with other discursive media-painting, film, literature, the Internet, performance art – a field in which architecture often seems to come up short. What these other media lack, of course, is architecture's powerful instrumentality – its capacity not only to critique, but also to actually transform reality. Architecture's relationship to its material is, however, indirect. Unlike activities such as gardening or woodworking, where something concrete is made by direct contact with the material, the architect (like the engineer, the urbanist, or the ecologist) operates on reality at a distance, and through the mediation of abstract systems such as nota-


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tion, projection, or calculation. Indirect contact is the necessary counterpart to the larger scale of intervention. Architecture works simultaneously with abstract images and with material realities, in complex interplay. It is a material practice. It is not entirely coincidental that the twenty-five year period coinciding with the rise of post modernism in architecture has seen a massive defunding of urban infrastructure. In the United States, public investment in civic works – highways, railroads, water supply and control, land reclamation, mass transit-is at an all time low. While architects cannot logically be held accountable for these complex political and economical shifts, it might be argued that by the production of a theoretical framework to justify an architecture of surface and sign, architects have, consciously or not, participated in their own marginalization. If architects assert that signs and information are more important than infrastructure, why would bureaucrats or politicians disagree? As much as they have been excluded from the development of the city, architects themselves have retreated from questions of function, implementation, technique, finance, and material practice. And while architects are relatively


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powerless to provoke the changes necessary to generate renewed investment in infrastructure, they can begin to redirect their own imaginative and technical efforts toward the questions of infrastructure. A toolbox of new and existing procedures can be expanded by reference to architecture's traditional alliance with territoriaI organization and functionality. This is the context within which I want to situate the shift in recent practice toward infrastructure. Going beyond stylistic or formaI issues, infrastructuraI urbanism offers a new model for practice and a renewed sense of architecture's potential to structure the future of the city. Infrastructural urbanism understands architecture as material practice – as an activity that works in and among the world of things, and not exclusively with meaning and image. It is an architecture dedicated to concrete proposals and realistic strategies of implementation and not distanced commentary or critique. It is a way of working at the large scale that escapes suspect notions of master planning and the heroic ego of the individual architect. Infrastructural urbanism marks a return to instrumentality and a move away from the representational imperative in architecture.


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This does not imply a simple return to the now discredited certainties of modernism. Two claims can be made: first, that architecture's instrumentality can be reconceived-not as a mark of modernity's demand for efficient implementation but as the site of architecture's contact with the complexity of the real. By immersing architecture in the world of things, it becomes possible to produce what Robin Evans, paraphrasing Lyotard, has referred to as a "volatile, unordered, unpoliceable communication that will always outwit the judicial domination of language.”4 The second claim is for a practice engaged in time and process – a practice not devoted to the production of autonomous objects, but rather to the production of directed fields in which program, event, and activity can play themselves out. In an interview conducted fifteen years ago, Michel Foucault noted that "Architects are not the engineers or technicians of the three great variables: territory, communication and speed."5 While it is hard to argue Foucault's point as an assessment of the current condition, it deserves to be pointed out that historically this has not been the case. Land surveying, territorial organization, local ecologies, road construction, shipbuilding, hydrau-


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lics, fortifications, bridge building, war machines, and networks of communication and transportation were all part of the traditional competence of the architect before the rise of disciplinary specialization. Territory, communication, and speed are properly infrastructural problems, and architecture as a discipline has developed specific technical means to deal effectively with these variables. Mapping, projection, calculation, notation, and visualization are among architecture's traditional tools for operating at the very large scale. These procedures can be reclaimed for architecture, and supplemented with new technologies of design and simulation now available. But rethinking infrastructure is only one aspect of a larger move away from the representational model, one of the many implications of architecture understood as a material practice. Material practices (ecology or engineering for example) are concerned with the behavior of large scale assemblages over time. They do not work primarily with images or meaning, or even with objects. but with performance: energy inputs and outputs. the calibration of force and resistance. They are less concerned with what


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things look like and more concerned with what they can do. Although these material practices work instrumentally, they are not limited to the direct manipulation of given material. Instead they project transformations of reality by means of abstract techniques such as notation, simulation, or calculation. Material practices organize and transform aggregates of labor, materials, energy and resources, but they work through necessarily mediated procedures – operations of drawing and projection, for example – that leave their trace on the work. Material practices deploy an open catalog of techniques without preconceived formal ends. In architecture and urbanism, technique does not belong to an individual but to the discipline as a whole. As Foucault has reminded us, techniques are social before they are technical. Hence, to think of architecture as a material practice does not mean leaving questions of meaning entirely behind. Architecture works with cultural and social variables as well as with physical materials, and architecture's capacity to signify is one tool available to the architect working in the city. But material practices do not


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attempt to control or predetermine meaning. Instead, they go beyond the paradoxes of the linguistic to examine the effects of signifying practices on performance and behavior. Material practices are not about expression – expressing either the point of view of an author or of the collective will of a society: rather they condense, transform, and materialize concepts.6 Architecture is uniquely capable of structuring the city in ways not available to practices such as literature, film, politics, installation art, or advertising. Yet because of its capacity to actualize social and cultural concepts, it can also contribute something that strictly technical disciplines such as engineering cannot. When Walter Benjamin writes that “construction fulfills the role of the unconscious” he articulates the capacity of certain structures to act as a scaffold for a complex series of events not anticipated by the architect-meanings and affects existing outside of the control of a single author that continuously evolve over time. SEVEN PROPOSITIONS In retrospect, I really think that we are now dealing with


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the same issues again, after the “semantic nightmare." Rem Koolhaas, 1991 1. Infrastructure works not so much to propose specific buildings on given sites, but to construct the site itself. Infrastructure prepares the ground for future building and creates the conditions for future events. Its primary modes of operation are: the division, allocation, and construction of surfaces; the provision of services to support future programs; and the establishment of networks for movement, communication, and exchange. Infrastructure's medium is geography. 2. Infrastructures are flexible and anticipatory. They work with time and are open to change. By specifying what must be fixed and what is subject to change, they can be precise and indeterminate at the same time. They work through management and cultivation, changing slowly to adjust to shifting conditions. They do not progress toward a predetermined state (as with master planning strategies), but are always evolving within a loose envelope of constraints.


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3. Infrastructural work recognizes the collective nature of the city and allows for the participation of multiple authors. Infrastructures give direction to future work in the city not by the establishment of rules or codes (top-down). but by fixing points of service, access, and structure (bottom-up). Infrastructure creates a directed field where different architects and designers can contribute. but it sets technical and instrumental limits to their work. Infrastructure itself works strategically. but it encourages tactical improvisation. Infrastructural work moves away from self referentiality and individual expression toward collective enunciation. 4. Infrastructures accommodate local contingency while maintaining overall continuity. In the design of highways. bridges, canals, or aqueducts, for example, an extensive catalog of strategies exist to accommodate irregularities in the terrain (doglegs, viaducts, cloverleaves, switchbacks, etc.), which are creatively employed to accommodate existing conditions while maintaining functional continuity. Nevertheless, infrastructure's default condition is regularity – in the desert, the highway runs straight. Infrastructures are above all pragmatic. Because


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it operates instrumentally, infrastructural design is indifferent to formal debates. Invested neither in (ideal) regularity nor in (disjunctive) irregularity. the designer is free to employ whatever works given any particular condition. 5. Although static in and of themselves, infrastructures organize and manage complex systems of flow, movement, and exchange. Not only do they provide a network of pathways, they also work through systems of locks, gates, and valves – a series of checks that control and regulate flow. It is therefore a mistake to think that infrastructures can in a utopian way enable new freedoms, that there is a possibility of a net gain through new networks. What seems crucial is the degree of play designed into the system, slots left unoccupied, space left free for unanticipated development. This also opens the question of the formal description of infrastructural systems: infrastructures tend to be hierarchical and tree-like. However, there are effects of scale (a capillary effect when the elements get very numerous and very small) and effects of synergy (when systems overlap and interchange), both of which


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tend to produce field conditions that disrupt the overall tendency of infrastructural systems to organize themselves in linear fashion. 6. Infrastructural systems work like artificial ecologies. They manage the flows of energy and resources on a site, and they direct the density and distribution of a habitat. They create the conditions necessary to respond to incremental adjustments in resource availability, and modify the status of inhabitation in response to changing environmental conditions. 7. Infrastructures allow detailed design of typical elements or repetitive structures, facilitating an architectural approach to urbanism. Instead of moving always down in scale from the general to the specific, infrastructural design begins with the precise delineation of specific architectural elements within specific limits. Unlike other models (planning codes or typological norms for example) that tend to schematize and regulate architectural form and work by prohibition, the limits to architectural design in infrastructural complexes are technical and instrumental. In infrastructural urbanism,


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form matters, but more for what it can do than for what it looks like. “The time has come to approach architecture urbanistically and urbanism architecturally.”7


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NOTES 1. Le Corbusier. Aircraft (1935; reprint New York: Universe Books, 1988) , illustration 18. 2. Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York : The Museum of Modern Art. 1966), Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978). Note that the text to Collage City was completed in 1973 and widely circulated before the publication of the book. 3. 'Words like investigation, enquiry and interrogation, used much in describing what designers do, suggest that designing is a way of finding out, as if the process of design were conducted in some kind of mental laboratory in which the boundaris of knowledge were being pushed slowly but surely forward." Robin Evans, "Bad News," paper delivered at the Conference on Theory and Practice in the Work of John Hedjuk, Canadian Centre of Architecture, Montreal, 15 May 1992. 4. Robin Evans, The Projective Cast (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995), 91-2. 5. Michel Foucault, "Space. Knowledge, and Power," in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York· Pantheon Books, 1984), 244. 6. In the terms of the distinction proposed by Gilles Deleuze, material practices are more concerned with the actualization of the virtual than with the realization of the possible. See Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 19891, 97. On the subject of virtuality, and on a number of other points, I have referred to Michael Speaks, "Redirecting the Global Space of Flows”, paper given at the Berlage lnstitute, Amsterdam, 28 October 1997. 7. Alison Smithson, ed.. Team 10 Primer, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,


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1968), 73. While an entire section of the Primer is devoted to "Urban lnfrastructure," the primary subject is the problem of large-scale motorways. Nevertheless, Team 10’s attention to questions of scale, use, movement and flow, and the evolution of the urban landscape over time make their thoughts an exemplary and obligatory starting point in any discussion of architecture and infrastructure.



Repertoire

This is a quick collection of service stations. The sequence shows what remains – and it is a lot - and what changes, from the last century. It is possible that the little timid architecture of the pioneering stations will be a good model for the next ones. We look for less imposing, more gentle and sober gas stations.


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Roarin’ Rohrer’s Streamline gas station, McAlester, Oklahoma, ca. 1940.


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Texaco gas station of the Sixties, USA.

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Aldo Favini, Aquila service station, Sesto San Giovanni, 1949.


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Merle’s Coffee Shop, Newport Beach, 1949

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Henri Heidersberger, gas station, Blue Lake, 1953.


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Mario Bacciocchi, Agip service station, Milano, 1951-53.

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J. de Brauer & J.B. Maneval , Station service SNPA, Lacq (France), 1957.


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Walter Haemer, Dea service station, Hannover, Germany, 1956.

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Ogre gas station, Latvia, 1965.

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Vittorio De Feo, Esso Gas Station, Competition Entry, 1970.


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Costantino Dardi, Agip Kaaba Gas Station, Venice, 1969.

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Mario Botta, Rest Area in Piotto, Tessin (CH), 1993-1998.


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Mario Botta, Rest Area in Piotto, Tessin (CH), 1993-1998.

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BKK Architects, Calder Woodburn Rest Area, Australia, 2008.


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Foster and Partners, Repsol Gas Station, Spain, 1996-98.


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Malka Portus, Cepsa Gas Station, Adanero, Spain, 2015.


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Malka Portus, Cepsa Gas Station, Adanero, Spain, 2015.

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PON arquitectos, Rancagua station, Cordoba, Argentina, 2020.


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Atelier SAD, Gas Station, Galanta, Slovakia, 2011.

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Atelier SAD, Gas Station, Galanta, Slovakia, 2011.


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Studio Puisto, Rest stop on highway E75, Finland, 2016.


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Shiromio Studio, Hangzhou Inventronic Electric Charging Station, 2017.


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Shiromio Studio, Hangzhou Inventronic Electric Charging Station, 2017.


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Cobe, Ultrafast Charging Station, Denmark, 2019.


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Dahlberg, Krasse, Lagerqvist, Modular Filling Station, Competition Entry, Norway, 2015.


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Philippe Samyn, Service Stations Projects.


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Tesla Supercharger station type, 2012.

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Tesla Supercharger station, Tejon Ranch, California.

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