Drawing an Evocative Non Finito
Oblò Architects in collaboration with Alberto D’asaro, Giulia Peyote, Chiara Valentini, Victor Miot, Filippo Pasini and Lorenzo Santosuosso
Who influences you graphically?
We draw inspiration from a plentiful of graphic solutions from the pre-digital era in order to achieve a higher level of visual synthesis and abstraction. Examples are Archigram’s collages from the 50’s, the drawings of Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp from the 70’s, the contemporary graphic investigations of Assemble, Fala Atelier and Point Supreme – among the others – we try to overlap the project’s spaces with several layers of life and “culture”, instead of reducing it to its mere physical appearance.
Some details emerge vividly, whereas others are consciously omitted, turning the image into a highly evocative non finito, which stays hypothetically open to further changes and additions. As in Flemish paintings of the 16th Century, the possibility to convey a message through an allegorical representation is here preferred to a bare realistic attitude.
You mainly explore your proposal through axonometric and visuals, to what extent do you trust the axonometric as the most complete form of representation?
Axonometric drawings and visuals are a much-needed tool for today’s designers. They convey a clear and memorable – but not oversimplified – image of a project, one which can hope to survive the incessant flow of information in and outside the internet.
By no means, though, we believe this type of representation can take over the traditional technical drawings – such as plans, sections and elevations – the latter being the objective, precise and scientific counterpart of the former.
Axonometric drawings can be evocative, plans and section are to be exact.
What dictates your choice of colour palette?
Once again, we don’t pursue strict realism, but rather we work on creating evocative atmospheres.
To do so, we take inspiration not only from other architectural images but also from the fields of photography and art. Among the others, we often refer to the Italian photography of the Eighties – which we appreciate not only for its elegantly outdated vintage aesthetics, but also for its disenchanted interpretation of landscape as a complex artifact – or to such painters as Henri Rousseau, Edward Hopper and David Hockney.
How does the use of sketching help in understanding and defining stages of a project?
We do use a lot of sketching in the first steps of the work on the project. In addition to being the fastest way to share thoughts and ideas with the other team members, hand drawing also helps us to focus on the basic project’s goals more precisely. The clear and synthetic contents of the first sketches are later reproduced, thoroughly checked and increased by their translation into digital drawings.
To us, this passage fundamental, both to enhance the quality of the final output and because we don’t believe in the stereotyped vision of the architect as a artist, who impulsively sketches the shapes of the project out of a blank sheet of paper.
What is the effect and purpose behind your choice of ‘cartoon’ like characters?
We try to design spaces that draw most of their sense out of people inhabiting them. Consequently, for the views of our projects we choose characters which can fully fit into their overall aesthetics and share their same level of abstraction.
Coherently, most of the times, instead of drawing generic brand new figures, we borrow them from the atmospheres of selected paintings, photographs and illustrations – the infamous covers of The New Yorker being one of our favorite sources of inspiration.
The final effect we try to achieve is one where people do not emerge as silhouettes pasted on the background – as it might happen with realistic images – but rather merge with it showing how life its strictly interlaced with architecture.
Oblò – officina di architettura is an architecture practice based in Milan and Paris founded by Alessandro Benetti, Francesca Coden, Margherita Locatelli and Emanuele Romani.