Founded in Florence by a group of radical young architects in 1966, Superstudio used photo-collages, films, and exhibitions to critique modernist doctrines of design, urban planning, and architecture.
Natalini Superstudio Collection
Natalini Superstudio Collection documents the career of Adolfo Natalini and the experimental group Superstudio. There is also abundant material relating to other radical architectural groups and projects of the 1960s and 1970s, including Archigram, Archizoom, 9999, and Global Tools. The collection consists of original drawings, collages, photographs, and artwork, as well as typescript or mimeographed circulars and documents relating to Superstudio's activities and conceptual projects from 1967, as well as Natalini's individual development and architectural work continuing after the group's dissolution in 1986. Printed material in the collection includes exhibition catalogs, manifestos, posters, and articles published in avant-garde architectural and design journals as well as interviews, conference proceedings, and monographs about the work of Natalini and Superstudio through the mid-2000s.
Finding Aid for the collection.
Superstudio emerged from the radical architecture movements of the late 1960s. The firm was founded in 1966 in Florence, Italy, by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. They had studied architecture at the University of Florence with Andrea Branzi, the founder of Archizoom, and they presented their ideas about the crisis of modernism in the Superarchitettura exhibition held in Pistoia, Italy, in 1966. Superstudio soon expanded to include Alessandro and Roberto Magris and Piero Frassinelli, and the five young architects continued to live in Florence after graduation. The city played a critical role in their work. “It is the designer who must attempt to re-evaluate his role in the nightmare he helped to conceive, to retread the historical process which inverted the hopes of the modern movement,” Toraldo di Francia claimed. “And in Italy, Florence, a town where all such contradictions become most evident (the moment one draws the curtains of mythically misrepresented past) stands historically symbolic.”
In 1967, Natalini laid out three categories of research that would drive and determine the firm’s projects: architecture of the monument, architecture of the image, and technomorphic architecture. During these early years, Superstudio espoused a utopian vision for social change through architecture, but by 1968, they had dismissed this notion as overly optimistic. The following year they revealed what was to become their best-known motif: a seemingly infinite framework of black-and-white grid extending across the surface of the earth. This megalithic structure, which they called Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization, was meant to critique what Superstudio saw as the absurdities and impotence of contemporary urban planning. They produced photocollages that showed the grid blanketing various natural landscapes and urban sites around the world.
Many of their projects were published in the magazine Casabella, presented in the form of short fiction, storyboard illustrations, and, most famously, photomontage. In the early 1970s, Superstudio produced several films to raise awareness of the potentially detrimental impact of construction on the environment, at a time when this issue was seldom raised. The collective dissolved in 1978, but its members continued to develop similar ideas independently, through writing, design, and architecture.
We begin anew from the art of building,
from the economy of materials,
from the reasons for construction,
and from the meanings of a building.
Trailer for Superstudio o la Mossa del Cavallo, a documentary about Superstudio by Matteo Giacomelli.