Roundtable in Rome highlights new ways for young architects to practice

Generazione Differences

Roundtable in Rome highlights new ways for young architects to practice

“Generazione: A Call From Rome,” a tavola rotunda or round table, was just convened at the Acquario Romano, home to the city’s Casa dell’Architettura di Roma. The gathering aimed to address a range of issues relevant to the generation of young architects just entering into professional practice. This new approach, according to Jacopo Costanzo, organizer of the tavola rotunda, asks architects to “draw from archives—mental, digital, or printed on paper… distant from the typical parametric and highly schematic rationales that characterized the last thirty years of design in architecture.” It is a movement asking for a break from the digital practice so dominant in the profession, and a return to a more locally and culturally focused approach.

It featured two young architecture practices committed to newer and—for them—more authentic approaches to working in the world. UNULAUNU, from Zurich, Switzerland/Bucharest, Romania, and TRAUMNOVELLE, from Geneva, Switzerland/Brussels, Belgium, are committed to moving away from an obsession with digital production as the only tool for design and toward a new way of conceiving, presenting, and thinking about design. For example, TRAUMNOVELLE’s three principals, Léone Drapeaud, Manuel León Fanjul, and Johnny Leya, claim to champion “a multi-disciplinary approach with architecture at the crossroads.” They eschew traditional client relationships and instead seek their own areas in which to apply their architectural educations. Instead of working to find clients, they imagine their own projects merging the conditions of contemporary life and then use “architecture and fiction as analytical, critical, and subversive tools to emphasize contemporary issues and dissect their resolutions.” Their non-traditional research practice is not necessarily a unique one for a young firm without commissions but these Belgians leave little room for a move into a conventional mode of production.

The roundtable discussion by Nicola Di Battista of Domus, architect Giuseppe Pasquali, artist Nancy Goldring, historian Lea-Catherine Szacka, and this writer, spoke about the history of new approaches to architecture, the value of drawing as a mode of production, and the special conditions of Italian design. The commentators—from their different perspectives—all supported the new approach but warned about the pitfalls faced by past attempts to create new models of practice. It is hoped that these young practices were not fazed by these critics and instead that this first call from the home of so many other architecture revolutions will produce another.