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There is a kind of 'ABDR Method' of approaching the project: this is not the result of a rational process, nor is it the result of a lucid desire to plan all the steps that go into defining the work of architecture. As we know, this is not in the order of things. Instead, its deeper nature lies in a simple but very rare condition: decades of professional life, of working on the project, spent together.

If we really want to define it, our 'method' is therefore the result of a long experience, first lived in four and then in three, always surrounded by a host of extraordinary collaborators, for a period still to be defined. 

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This does not mean that the technical, cultural and scientific aspects of 'designing architecture' are irrelevant to us, and that the mechanisms that lead to the realisation of works are not the subject of continuous reflection and revision, far from it. But we know that in our case, over and above everything and beyond the awareness of the impossibility of figuring it out, these cannot disregard the profound effects of the existential component, the persistence over time of the "shared life" factor. It is precisely from the intimate, private and unspoken knowledge of each other's shortcomings and capabilities that our professional way of acting and, ultimately, our being all-round authors and architects takes shape.

Notebook of Michele Beccu

In other words, it is the daily exercise of mediation that trains us and leads us to a balanced and constructive approach to the different and often contradictory factors, these all external, that contribute to the realisation of the architectural project: economic or technical, political or cultural, administrative or regulatory ones, and so on...

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In short, it is the exercise of understanding the needs of others that allows us to provide answers to individual and collective instances that conflict with each other, to transform personal limits into additional resources, to make constraints become factors for the advancement of the ideational work; finally, to resolve into form what at the beginning and during the design process appears to be the fruit of irreconcilable and - for architecture - potentially deflagrating instances. This does not mean that our action consists in reducing everything to a state of peaceful co-presence of the different factors that contribute to the definition of the work, but that the process we activate leads to the realisation of a new figure, complete, autonomous and endowed with its own specific identity, a new form.   

 Beyond the stubborn and irresolute pursuit of purely disciplinary approaches... this is the 'ABDR Method'.  

 Filippo Raimondo 

Sketch by Paolo Desideri

One of the central issues that as architects we must conceptually define is the relationship between our work as designers and creativity. Which is certainly not the only indispensable strand within our genetic code, but it is certainly the most equivocal and, if we may say so, the most slippery to define. Easy indeed to understand and define the admittedly vast field of technical and technological knowledge that we must necessarily have within our remit. Much more difficult, it is evident, is to try to formulate any conceptualisation regarding the architect's albeit essential creative capacity: a field that by its very nature borders on knowledge and skills and disciplines and attitudes that are difficult to codify.   

Lever House, SOM, Ponte sul Basento, Sergio Musmeci

And perhaps even more generally, what can we define as creativity within design activity? It seems to me that the first misunderstanding to shy away from è the identification of creativity with architectural language. A misunderstanding that stems directly from the confusion between art and architecture. Because unquestionably both Art and Architecture live, move, use and are founded on the exercise of creativity. The use that the two disciplines are called upon to make of it, however, seems to me to diverge immediately after the ascertainment of this presence in the statute of both.  

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Unlike Art, Architecture is by statute called upon to solve problems. And therefore, to a certain extent, as the number and importance of the problems in the field grows, we should learn to increase our capacity to face and solve them through creativity, unless we want to leave the task of doing so to others with other tools (and legions of engineers are eager to do so...). But we architects, on closer inspection, have this one formidable tool: creativity and form. We could venture that creativity and form must take on a kind of ethical responsibility towards the overall design system. Far beyond the "simple" and self-referential freedom of language that almost always runs the risk of pursuing "extravagance", I would therefore like to postulate, in the extreme territories of complexity, a creativity entirely devoted to "problem solving": a shift in the poetic horizon, as already mentioned, within which the contemporary architectural project moves, which much more than any other historical season must renounce, as Felix Candela puts it, every "extravagant architects dream".  

Paolo Desideri 

Edited by Michele Beccu

In day-to-day design practice, issues related to the transformation of existing buildings, the renovation of monumental buildings, and the confrontation with recent construction are becoming increasingly frequent, we experience the growing distance that separates our actions, the tools at our disposal, the techniques, the specialised knowledge, the reference to contemporary aesthetic categories, with the architectural and monumental legacy that the city and the territory deliver to us. A distance that appears to be growing, and which risks turning into an irremediable conflict. 

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The unrepeatable singularity that characterises our heritage runs the risk of overpowering our ability to design, to create form, if we do not measure ourselves carefully and punctiliously against those texts, if we do not live up to that singularity, as highly qualified operators, capable of exercising design with awareness, according to an organic and unitary conception of the artefacts to be reconfigured. Only in this way will we be able to recompose that conflict, relax and ease that tension, without renouncing the identity of our path, and our authorship as architects.

Detail of the Florence Opera House

Within the labyrinth of our profession, a new nature of the Architectural Project almost emerges; contextual sensitivity, technical complexity of procedures, holistic view of the project, figurative ability, seem to constitute aspects of a 'new naturalness' of the project. As if this ancient practice of transforming physical reality had undergone a subtle mutation, an unprecedented phenomenal variety of themes to deal with, but an immovable poetic centre, the architectural form.

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A principle of form that makes compositional values descend from simple operations of subtraction of signs, or from shrewd translations or modifications of technical components. To make the use of glass expressive, to re-actualise ancient materials, to appropriate techniques capable of modifying, without distorting it, the production chain of certain materials. To come to terms with the overbearing protagonism of specialisms, to dialogue with manufacturers, and to listen to the wisdom of artists.  

 Michele Beccu 


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