From 26th May to 14th July 2023, Antonia Jannone Disegni di Architettura
presents HALF EARTH, a new exhibition of work by architect, artist and educator Steven Holl (Washington, 1947) curated by Steven Holl Architects. The exhibition project five years after the first exhibition One Two Five curated by Marco Sammicheli is a reflection on the role of architecture as an activity which, today, is inevitably and inescapably linked to responsibilities to Nature.
The exhibition, from a concept by Fulvio Irace, takes its title from the work of the same name on biodiversity by the scholar Edward Osborne Wilson who, in the 1970s, attempted to map animal and plant species from all over the world, in order to identify those places where man had the most room to act on the environment while still protecting it.
Today, more than ever, the idea of rethinking urban settlements and their density is a crucial task, indeed a duty, for urban planners and architects. Holl himself has, over time, tried to address this need by creating that could preserve and/or restore struggling ecosystems thanks to ecological architecture powered by renewable energy sources.
HALF EARTH include projects such as Edge of a City (1988-1991), which offers suggestions for restoring the natural landscape on the edges of large American cities, and Spatial Retaining Bars for Phoenix and Spiroid Sectors for Dallas, dedicated to the design and construction of new community settlements. Geothermally heated and cooled, these new communities include living, working, recreational and cultural activities. One of the gallery walls also accommodates a life-size image of Gran Sasso, the highest mountain in the Apennines, along with models and studies for a new community public square, the Gran Sasso pavilion and hotel transformations.
In addition to plans and models are also large watercolour drawings inspired by John Cage's ideas on chance-controlled creation: indeed more than half of the shapes have been left to the randomness of water and chance.
For Holl the act of drawing is a daily exercise which he has always conceived as a metaphysical activity in search of an essential conception of architecture: the design process takes on the characteristics of a journey between reality and fiction, in which large buildings act as monumental containers that capture the passage of time.
To me sketching, drawing by hand, is a form of thought. It is through my paintings that my thoughts take shape. By painting or drawing I manage to create a connection between the subjective element and the objective element. Its an unpredictable way of opening your mind and feeling freely.
The catalogue comprises texts by Evan Douglis, Steven Holl and Fulvio Irace.