GDC, A History of Resistance and Participation _by AUTLAB
Natalia Agati, Daniele Burattini, Emanuele Caporrella, Olimpia Fiorentino, Daniele Presutti, Renzo Sgolacchia.
14th Triennial in Milan, 1968. GDC argues with students and workers outside the Exhibition.
Giancarlo De Carlo (Genoa, 1919 – Milan, 2005) is a partisan during the Italian Resistance when he approaches architecture through the study of the “pioneers” of the Modern Movement. This experience marks his political vision and his entire production. He is internationally known as one of the members of Team X and the Architect of Participation. He is an architect, an urbanist, a professor, an editor, an intellectual and, as he once declares in Domus’ editorial, his interests vary “from University to black holes”.
A Lesson of Urban Planning
Una Lezione di Urbanistica, 1954. Frames of the short movie’s highlights.
During the 10th Triennial Exhibition in Milan – in 1954 – GDC, Carlo Doglio and Ludovico Quaroni present to the public three short movies: they illustrate their position against the neo-modern movement through the innovative heteronomous perspective they apply to contemporary cities. In particular, Una Lezione di Urbanistica is an ironic critique of the problems deriving from the stereotyped approach of technicians and experts. The intention is to urge the ordinary man to react to easy authoritarianisms. The revolutionary concept of participation is introduced.
Spazio e Società no.1, 1978. Cover.
The manifesto of Space and Society, contained in the first issue (1978), declares the meaning of reflections about specific architectures and places.
What is notable is the strong interest for process in architecture, its motivations and its consequences.
In different numbers of Space and Society, machines from Diderot’s Enciclopédie appear. Machines are metaphors of a certain modus operandi: rational Systems to process resources. Reflections on the necessity of heteronomy in architecture imply argumentations about legitimacy and accountability of architecture. Contributions regarding the Context are attested in all its essays: in Space and Society it is declared that attention will be given to the most diverse Local projects in the world. The only point of contact between the huts of Cameroon and Trulli in Puglia is their being different, their being consistent with the diversity of various components of the environment in which they were born.
(GDC, Casabella-Continuità no. 200, 1954)
Terni, 1970. Exhibition of the Matteotti design’s models.
In 1969 Italy is shaken by the first big workers movements, the widespread strikes and political struggles in the factories, aimed to obtain new rights in the working environment and formalization of social conquests. Villaggio Matteotti is conceived in this historical moment, the hot autumn. GDC proposes a participative process and the workers of the Terni steel mill are immediately involved – during working-hours and without superiors – in the design. GDC prepares an exhibition to expand their figurative panorama about social housing. Together with the inhabitants and according to the principle of variation, they propose 5 typologies evolved into 45 different dwelling solutions for 250 houses. Variation implies independent accesses for each house, private gardens within terraced systems on staggered levels, differentiation between pedestrian and vehicular paths. The workers acquire a strong political awareness about their rights to space: in 1974 the Factory Committees request to be involved even in the decisions about the restoration of the working spaces. Municipal administration – in 1975 – is inspired by Matteotti neighborhood’s principles while drafting the triennial plan for social housing in Terni.
Bureaucracy wields its control through the imposition of a univocal typology, carefully built[…].
“Processes” as a matter of fact bother it, because they put too many variables at stake, stimulate critique, encourage participation.
(GDC, Sulla incontinente ascesa della tipologia /Type and Stereotype, Casabella, no. 509‐510 ,1985)
Terni, 1974. Foto Giorgio Casali.