Gian Piero Frassinelli, Superstudio, and 2A+P/A


Edited by Davide Sacconi

The recent collaboration between Gian Piero Frassinelli – founder of the Florentine collective Superstudio – and 2A+P/A an architectural practice based in Rome – relaunched a long-established, yet generally overlooked, debate on the relationship between architecture and anthropology. 

Moving away from a historical or scientific perspective to embrace the point of view of the project, the exhibition Savage Architecture genealogically reconstructs the ethos of such collaboration in four episodes. The outcome is a journey through the imaginative potential of the anthropological gaze in constructing both meaning and a method for the architectural project as an alternative to the dominant belief in the economic and technological reasons.  

The story begins with Gian Piero Frassinelli’s graduation thesis, a project for an Anthropology Research Centre that testifies to his original interest in the processes of acculturation, imagining architecture as a mechanism to stage and study the encounter between different human cultures. 

Only a few years later The Twelve Ideal Cities, combining powerful narratives and technical details to describe perfect and dystopian mechanisms, established a method for an anthropological approach to architecture. This unveiled the contradictions inherent in the city as a form of either human or power relations. 

In recent years the proposal for the Budapest Ethnographic Museum marks the encounter between Frassinelli’s theoretical speculations and the formal inventions of 2A+P/A. On one hand Frassinelli focused on the symbolic and political dimension of anthropology while on the other hand 2A+P/A deals with the monolithic and mysterious character of architecture. This encounter generates a tension with its open relationship to the city and the public accessibility of its archaeological content. 

Finally the journey is concluded by the Central Archive of Human Cultures, a primitive black marble ziggurat shaped case. Here all the known human cultures are preserved and experienced in the reddish half-lit vastness of a non-hierarchical and hyper-technological archive. An anti-museum archetype that exposes preservation and curation as powerful yet dangerous ideological constructions against which architecture can act as a mechanism of liberation – staging the emotional contact between every human and human kind.

Savage Architecture is an architecture that rejects the domestic man, refusing to impose the power of reason over his animal, instead it is a symbolic and vital element; a project that imagines forms, mechanisms and narratives to expose the irreducible dichotomy of mankind – framing the violence inherent in human relationships.

Savage Architecture is, at its core, the difficult yet necessary achievement of a field of tensions between control and freedom, narrative and technology, individual expression and collective rituals.