Rural City is a research project based on the necessity to overcome the millenary dichotomy between city and nature. In order to rethink this relationship, the project works on the creation of a heterogeneous dispositive, capable to detect and deal with those visible and invisible forces that characterize contemporary areas. On the one hand Rural City proposes operations of urban retrofitting, by imagining new uses and new programs for existing buildings; on the other hand, new architectural typologies are defined: vertical parks, greenhouse villas, and other collective spaces will be part of a complex infrastructural support, that combines the new and the old according to a critical approach.
The proposal for the Industrial Arts Center pursues a double challenge: on the one hand, to re-activate and reconvert the existing building through new functions and a contemporary language; on the other hand, to focus attention on the public character of the intervention, in order to allow citizens to gather and share the activities of the Art Center during the day, according to the prescriptions of the Brewery District.
“From Program to Use” wants to reconsider the importance of the idea of use in the conception of an architectural work: in our case, the program is just the starting point to design spaces where notions such as experience, movement, perception, atmosphere become fundamental. The Rapid Electrotype Company Building, a 1 story structure built in 1900 and located at the base of a steep hill, will be the central nucleus of the future INDUSTRIAL ARTS CENTER: rather than manipulating its exterior shape, the building will be restored and transformed into a public mega-foyer. It will act as a collective-distribution space where you can enter the disparate functions of the new Centre, but also can spend some free-time, have a coffee, buy something, or simply take a walk around the hill. In this way, visitors, workers, and people in general are forced to enter and visit the ancient building, with its massive columns and its rough-industrial aspect, and can use it even when the regular activities of the Center are closed.
“The Vertical Garden” is a proposal for the new Shuter Headquarters in Taiwan, and attempts not only to fulfil the programmatic requirements required by the competition, but mainly to open the building to visitors and citizens, by providing public-collective spaces where people can enter, gather, and join specific events. At the same time, “The Vertical Garden” aims to build a new, sustainable and green building, in which any design effort is addressed to reduce C02 emissions, guarantee energy optimization, water recycling, and biodiversity. In order to integrate the new functions into the surrounding landscape of Bansan, without altering the current site topography and ecosystem, the building is conceived as a vertical garden: a continuous green surface which hosts different plant species. People (both visitors and workers) will venture into the The Vertical Garden” without interfering with the daily activities of the factory; furthermore, they will always find interesting places where to enjoy different events (concerts, exhibitions, and so on). The interaction between factory and administration will produce new public spaces where to gather and meet each other.
ABC House is a project aimed to re-think the traditional typology of the house according to a new relationship between landscape and architecture.The clients, a young couple with a kid, asked a villa where to spend their summer holidays, with an open flexible living room and two bedrooms. From a functional point of view, the project consists of two levels: the ground floor hosts kitchen, dining room, and a small studio; bedrooms and bathroom are at the upper level. The starting point of the project is a new alliance with the surrounding landscape that allows integrating a man-made artefact, that is architecture, into the given natural site. The silhouette of the Italian mountains, with their irregularities, offers the pretext to work on a natural architecture, whose formal configuration recalls the geometries of the mountains. ABC House is an open system based on the assembling of three elements: two independent boxes, that contain bedrooms and technical spaces; the roof, which represents a kind of artificial mountain; and last, the panoramic points, some small architectures that attack like parasites the house and offer interesting perceptive views.
Archaeology of the Future is a proposal aimed to turn Plovdiv Central Square into the main hub of the Underground Museum of Philippopolis, which will connect into an integrate system all the Plovdiv main monuments.
For this reason, the project consists of the superposition and interpenetration of three different layers:
1. The archaeological layer, located at the lower level, characterized by the Ancient Forum, and made it partially accessible. In some points of the square, on the upper level, a “trace” or memory of the Forum will recall the integrity of the entire plan.
2. The modern-contemporary layer, contradistinguished by important architectural elements, such as the Military Club, the Trimontium Hotel, the Post Office, and the former Communist Party House. Along with the park on the west, they will constitute the basis for the new configuration.
31. The layer of the Future, in which new functions are installed: a Tourist info-centre, an exhibition space, a new Market (which replaces the current parking area), an underground parking, and some artistic installations, whose disposition breaks with the current axial and hierarchical organization.
Who influences you graphically?
I don’t have any constant or precise reference, but am interested in the contamination of different “atmospheres”: the obsessive technicality of the Italian Tendenza, the rigorous minimalism of the Portoguese and Swiss contemporary production, the pop manifestations from Archigram, Archizoom, Superstudio, etc.
You only explore your proposal 3dimensionally (3d section, perspective view etx), do you trust these are more effective in conveying the proposal rather than a typical plan/section?
No, I don’t. Both are part of the design process, and have the same value to me. Actually I’m more interested in the plan (especially the ground floor) as the main instrument in order to understand the urban connotations and consequences of any architectural project, than the section: sections play a secondary role in my work. Perspective views, axo, 3ds sections are operative devices that I use to unveil (and express) mistakes, contradictions, incongruences.
You approach each drawing in a very diagrammatic way, do you trust this is an easier way to communicate architecture as opposed to realistic views?
As I was saying before, the hybridization of the representation techniques is an important part of my methodology: abstract / autonomous drawings and realistic views merge in the same project. At the same time, I conceive the diagram not only as an explanatory instrument, but also as an operative device: it serves to better comprehend all the phases of the design process, and to raise possible concerns.
What role does colour play?
Normally I use a very limited palette of colours, especially when producing technical drawings; on the contrary colours are predominant in perspective views and renders (contamination, again). In general terms I use black, white and just 1 colour for plans and sections: in this case they are useful to emphasize certain aspects of the project.
What dictates your choice for a very flat untexture palette for certain projects, Rural City, as opposed to a rich texture as in Archaeology of the future?
That depends of the design strategy one is setting up: in the case of “Archaeology of the Future”, the idea was to graphically express the stratification of layers that composed the city. Each strata had its own precise characterization, and its own physical and symbolic connotation. In other cases, you just need to represent a more undefined and uncontrolled mood, without referring to specific layers or conditions.
About: SCSTUDIO Architecture and Design
Stefano Corbo (1981) is an Italian architect and Visiting Professor at the Lebanese American University, Beirut (2014-2015). He received a MArch II in Advanced Architectural Design at ETSAM Madrid (Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura) in 2010, and is currently a Ph.D Candidate at the same Institute, with a dissertation entitled: “Archaeology of Infrastructures. A conceptual cartography”. He has been lecturing at ETSAM, University of Miami, University of Wisconsin, and teaching as Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Alghero, Italy (2011-14). In 2014 he published his first book: “From Formalism to Weak Form. The Architecture and the Philosophy of Peter Eisenman”, edited by Ashgate. He has contributed to several magazines (Mark, CIRCO, CLOG, L’Arca, Il Giornale dell’Architettura, Dichotomy, Studio Magazine, etc.)
In 2012, after working at Mecanoo Architecten (Delft, Netherlands), Stefano Corbo founded SCSTUDIO Architecture and Design: a multidisciplinary network practicing architecture and design, preoccupied with the intellectual, economical and cultural contemporary context. His work has received several awards for international competitions in Italy, Russia, and South Korea; his projects have been published in many architectural magazines (Archinect, Archdaily, e-architect, A as Architecture, Accesit, Metalocus).