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Superarchitecture is the architecture of superproduction, superconsumption, supermarket, superman...

“Superarchitecture is the architecture of superproduction, superconsumption, supermarket, superman, super petrol”, so ran, in 1966, the manifesto of eleven “young adults” at the exhibition they staged in Pistoia, 17 Via San Bartolomeo, at the premises of the Jolly 2 gallery. England and the Sixties: the newly-formed Beatles were embarking on a growth curve that would win them a place of honour on the world Olympus. The same place and period saw the birth of Archigram (Architecture + Telegram), a group of architects who would come to influence generations of younger colleagues at home and overseas, and eventually carry off the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 2002. USA 1964: Bob Dylan recorded “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, denoting an explicit awareness of what was happening all around. Italy and the Sixties: with the economic boom in full swing, the Fiat 500 and Piaggio Vespa were being mass-produced, the first vehicles to satisfy a mood of independence among the young which would manifest socially in the first university sit-ins. In 1963 the Florence Architecture Faculty was occupied: the strait jacket of academic rationalism relegated the figure of the architect to a technician of the building trade. Protest in 1963 targeted teaching methods within the university, rather than the socio-political system as would be the case in 1968. Italian Radical was the offspring of rationalism, and saw its father figures in “the anomalous rationalist” Le Corbusier, the “irrational rationalist” Louis Kahn, and Mies v an der Rohe, to whom Archizoom would one day dedicate a chair. The “dispossessed children of rationalism”, as the future members of Archizoom and Superstudio liked to style themselves, acknowledged the debt to the fathers but yearned to break out of the cramping confines of rationalism as it now figured in practice, a lame movement for all seasons that had lost...

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