adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
 

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78

italian architect, adolfo natalini, passed away yesterday on january 23rd, 2020. born near florence in 1941, natalini was best known for co-founding superstudio with his university classmate cristiano toraldo di francia. gaining prominence during the 1960s and 70s, the architecture collective became famous for its avant-garde style and fantastical visualizations, which birthed the italian radical design movement after the defining ‘superarchitettura’ exhibition of 1966.

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78 designboom
image courtesy of natalini architetti

 

 

after growing up in the italian town of pistoia, natalini gained higher education at the university of florence, graduating in 1966. although he was more interested in painting at first, his friendship with toraldo di francia led to the birth of superstudio in the same year. gian piero frassinelli, alessandro magris, roberto magris and alessandro poli would later join the collective, and together, with their shared disillusionment of the status quo, the young creatives forged a new path in architecture that pushed the boundaries of the built environment. 

 

video via MAXXI

 

 

for the next 12 years, through research, drawings, photomontages and film, superstudio imagined subversive worlds that marked a definitive leave from modernity. one of the most notable projects was ‘the continuous monument’, which imagined a ‘negative utopia’ that pushed the limits of the relationship between architecture and nature. providing inspiration to generations of architects and artists, the collective’s work was purposefully radical. as opposed to traditional architects, superstudio placed a huge importance on ideas that would never be realized, in an effort to stir debate and provoke thought amid a sedate status quo.

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
twelve ideal cities – twelve cautionary tales for christmas
utopian project, 1971
architects: superstudio (alessandro magris, alessandro poli, piero frassinelli, cristiano toraldo de francia, roberto magris and adolfo natalini)

 

 

after the dissolution of superstudio in 1978, natalini would continue to work within the realms of architecture, focusing on projects in historic centers across italy and europe. he also became increasingly involved in academia and was a professor at the university of florence. in 1991, the architect would go on to establish natalini architetti with fabrizio natalini.

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
‘gli atti fondamentali’, education, 1971-1972, collage
image by cristiano toraldo di francia, courtesy of MAXXI

 

 

if design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of bourgeois model of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities… until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. until then, design must disappear. we can live without architecture…’ adolfo natalini, 1971.

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
‘il monumento continuo’, new york, 1969 – lithograph
image courtesy of MAXXI

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
superstudio, self-portrait, 1973, collage.
image by c. toraldo di francia, courtesy of MAXXI

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
‘quaderna’ for zanotta

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78
sofo for poltronova, 1968, modular seat
image by c. toraldo di francia, courtesy of MAXXI

adolfo natalini, founder of radical architecture group superstudio dies aged 78

‘gli atti fondamentali’, vita (supersuperficie), san martino alla palma, 1972, collage
image by cristiano toraldo di francia, courtesy of MAXXI

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