Public space is the background of our daily life and the framework of our professional research. Both the progressive disappearance of communities from the collective spaces of the city and contemporary society that is always changing in both form and needs, prompted us to start a research project on contemporary public space.
Mobility, flexibility, transiency and globalization are elements of the contemporary society that are reflected in a public space that no longer meets the real and immediate needs of the community.
Our goal is to respond to new social needs through experimentation in public space, we try to optimize the resources available and to create a synergy between different types of “urban waste”: waste materials, residual spaces and forgotten or uncommon uses. Public acts, minimum infrastructures, DIY workshops are the tools we use to intervene in reactivating common spaces.
Within exhibitions, festivals or reactivation projects, we inhabit spaces through our installations. The aim of these urban machines is to produce a collective imagination, to stimulate debates and reflections and to encourage interaction. Therefore we aim to involve inhabitants in redefining the use and configuration of contemporary public space. In our process we often use an urban storytelling as the incipit of a new urban story: the ultimate goal is the creation of a social and cultural identity, on which to base the processes of urban transformation.
Temporary architecture allows us to explore unknown territories: we believe that ephemeral goes far beyond the meaning of short duration, it triggers a semantic stratification processes that transform the space into common place.
Our architectures are mobile, unstable, provisional, dynamic. Strange vehicles that open-up uncovering instant squares, temporary structures that get reorganized according to specific needs, peculiar buildings that can be assembled and disassembled in few hours, urban readymades. Some of these works arise on the same site where others just disappeared, giving birth to chains and creating a public space in progress, evolving, always uncompleted. They are, literally, «provisional constructions», built to supply a specific need and intended to be dismantled and replaced by something else. At the same time, however, they are «provident constructions», able to see beyond their temporary utility and to imagine the place they occupy after their own disappearance.
We believe in open design processes, where the architectural project continually receives input, even after the start of construction. For this reason we adopt the laboratory approach as a design strategy, thus trying to reduce the distance between the actors of the architectural process and hybridizing research, design and construction phases. The open design process is complex and indeterminate. Residents, administrations, associations, architects, urban planners, activists, anyone who belongs to a specific area should be part of the process, each at the right time and the useful energy to participate, but with a common goal: to encourage new ways of using public space which makes it genuinely a common ground.
Therefore architectures need to change and adapt to the different conditions of each phases. During the construction workshop, as much as possible, we try to test the various uses of a public space; a complex task, but absolutely useful to discover the potential of a space. Sometimes the project works properly in the construction of the new space, otherwise it may not reach the set target. The workshop form allows us
to test the proposed solutions from the beginning, questioning in this way the infallibility of the project itself, which is continually contaminated by the multiple contributions deriving from the context.
Orizzontale develops, designs and builds its work. In this way we try to deepen the theme of the contemporary production process. Construction becomes a tool to research and experiment on material with recycling / upcycling strategies. We develop products both within larger scale projects and in an autonomous form. In this latter situation we test new possible uses for materials. Self-production allows us to research and transform recycled materials into architectural products or components.
Orizzontale is a permanent lab, we look at contemporary public space promoting new possible uses. Our research is obviously directed towards those experiments that, beyond the historical period and context, have created an imaginary, inclusive and celebratory public space,.
This constant search allows us to participate in the contemporary debate on public space, redefining as well the architect’s role in contemporary society and in urban development projects. Through a constant interchange between theoretical and practical research, we try to accumulate ideas and experiences to share on a european and global level.