a writing and architecture workshop
“Listen, I really think it’s going to be something quite extraordinary. Very spacious, bright, really well arranged, with no hidden corners, you know. There will be fine lighting, really brilliant, that will clearly show up all those disordered objects.
The fact is, everything will be simple, with no mysteries and nothing soul-disturbing, you know. Wonderful! Really very beautiful – very beautiful, and very large. Quite extraordinary! It will be cool in there too, with an immense silence.
My God, how can I describe to you the wonderful colours! You see many things are quite hard to describe, especially because they’ll be used in such a new way. And then, there’ll be glass, wood, linoleum, water, plants, vases, and many of those boxes they used to use, in wood or plastic, and all empty…
What’s really extraordinary about all this is that many of these things will be handmade, especially the largest ones. Of course, others will obviously be machinemade. The household equipment will be just perfect, in wonderful colours, neutral colours, I should say… All the rest will be bright, and there’ll be a big swing with room for two.
You see, there’ll be lots of marvellous things, and yet it will look almost empty, it will be so big and so beautiful… How fine it will be… just spending the whole day doing nothing, without working or anything… You know, just great… (And so, starting all over again at the beginning.)
What we use, then, in creating our environment is the least physical thing in the world, namely, words. Of course, that doesn’t at all mean that in postponing the physical realisation of this environment we have avoided picturing it. On the contrary, we have refused to complete a single image, our own, preferring instead that as many should be created as there are people listening to this tale, who will imagine this environment for themselves, quite beyond our control.”
This quotation was first spotted, as an edited version, in Adrian Forty’s Words and Buildings. Included here is the essay from Archizoom (a group of Italian avant-garde architects predominately active in the 1960s) in its entirely. The intersection between writing and architecture is made most explicit at the beginning (quoted above and highlighted below) where the indistinct nature of language is used to inspire multiple versions of a single space. The remainder of the essay deals with the issues of culture, ownership and the city. Though less direct than the opening paragraphs in its expression of language to re-imagine architecture, there is reference to alternative visions of the urban that is worth reading.