Plato’s Republic: a Utopia city state
Lorenzo Merletti & Julia Mainenti
The project is the representation of the ideal city described by Plato’s Republic. The building consists of four floors because there are four categories present. Golden (philosophers), Silver (warriors), Iron (artisans) and Bronze (peasants). The structure is a perfect cube, which is why in the table of plants there is only a quarter of the entire floor, the others are specular.
Each space and furniture has been designed exactly for the category it belongs to. The rooms of the philosophers and the warriors are not closed because private property was abolished for these classes. The philosophers have only a wire mesh that divides the accommodation from the corridor while the warriors have an actual collective dormitory. The artisans and peasants have a private apartment even if built in a minimal space. Outside the building there is a ramp from which, through the cameras, you can see the interior that is not accessible to visitors. This is why the design concept is that of a terrarium with the ants representing the people inside the cube.
What prompted you to look and develop a ‘representation’ of Plato’s Republic? Why not a reinterpretation?
The idea of proposing Plato’s Republic was to create a contrast between a perfect idea, the Republic and an imperfect reality like that of the project area, a place of abandonment and degradation in the suburbs of Milan. The project is a “representation” because the object from which we started is a book (the Republic) and we wanted to translate it into architecture, in other words, when entering the building one should understand the concepts expressed in the book, or at least, this what we hoped to do. We did not want to make a reinterpretation because the very function of our project is to allow the observer to understand the limits and potentialities of the Platonic state and to elaborate its own political theories.
How relevant is the text today?
Today, with the crisis in Western democracies, it is necessary to ask how societies and forms of government will evolve in the future, and a text like this certainly offers food for thought and possible parallels with the present.
Why did you choose to keep these ‘categories’ rather than applying them in a contemporary context?
Those of Plato are categories independent of history, farmers, workers, guards, and rulers-philosophers, are paradigms, the “characters” that exist today as they have always existed, so we have avoided to insert them into the contemporary, tying them to a specific time.
What is ultimately the objective of the project?
Good question … Ultimately we think we can compare it to an aquarium, some visit it for tourism, others work there and study the behavior of fish in certain situations, only here the fish are human beings! Let’s call it a museum of utopia.
What defined the language of representation of the project?
We simply had 4 main colors, Gold, Silver, Iron and Bronze, which are the metals that represent the various types of the human soul according to Plato, which we have used to refer to each of the 4 classes and the building plans . Consequently we used variations of the same tones for the interiors of each floor. At this point given the 4 colors, which had to remain evident, we decided to give homogeneity to the drawings using black lines for people and furniture and red for the geometries that led to the shape of the building. These last two colors in addition to the choice to lay out a single design for all on a square format, lead to the graphic consistency of all the work.
Lorenzo Merletti was born in Brescia in 1993. In 2014 he graduated from an artistic High School and enrolled in the architecture school of the Milan Polytechnic. Studies still ongoing. Since 2015 he has been working at a university course in Architectural Representation.
Julia Mainenti was born in 1995 in Rome. In 2013 she graduated from a scientific High School and enrolled in the architecture school of the Milan Polytechnic. Currently she continues her studies in a specialized course in architecture, focusing on environment and interiors.