The City as a Festival

Ortigia Sound System Festival 2016, 25th-31th July 2016, Siracusa.

Workshop to design and build the display of the spaces for the festival in collaboration with the Architecture faculty of Syracuse.

In our cities, rituals and sacredness seem far and forgotten. Religious processions and ceremonies seem to belong to ancient times. But if we pay attention to the history of the modern city, we realize they didn’t change, they’ve just shown in a different way. For instance, in Amsterdam during the 60s, for the Provos the urban ritual became fundamental in order to spread their message. Their sanctuaries became symbols of the city, as it happened for the Spui statue in front of which ritual and ludic joined. New clothes, new music, and new artistic practices exploded in the city, thus transforming it through temporary actions. In 1973 Ettore Sottsass published on Casabella “The Planet as a Festival.” The festival is a utopia, a new and real vision of life. In Sottsass’s opinion, and also according to that time’s counterculture, its inhabitants freed themselves from the chains of labor and became Homo Ludens. We can find some connections with Constant’s situationist city: The New Babylon was defined by the author himself as the “Provos’ city.” Today, these experiences of temporary escape persist in discos all over the world. The architecture of these places, if we can define its architecture and if they need it, doesn’t care about cannons such as firmitas, utilitas or venustas, but rather to the creation of atmospheres and sensations, physical and mental, extra-corporal and extra-terrestrial.
Rationality has nothing to do with it. These events have a deep connection with the dead space, forgotten by the city, visible for instance in relation with the first rave culture and the urban periphery, the industrial architecture or the berlin club scene with the visible empty spaces of the city, in its permanent state of bankrupt. During the 60s and 70s, for the spokespeople of the Superarchitecture, the creation of a ludic space became the only way to concretize a new design vision. The non-rationality of the party atmosphere was the element used to contradict the modern movement and its standardization. Places like the Superstudio’s Mach2, Ugo La Pietra’s Bang Bang, or the 9999’s Space Electronic brought an entire generation of designers to reconfigure their architectural approach and its materials.
Through a workshop, the project tries to re-cap some of the rituals and elements typical of the party atmosphere seen as an escape and an alternative. It retakes the experiences of the Superarchitecture and of the discos around Italy, considered by the Radical groups as the new public spaces. The space of the festival as a contemporary square.


Collaborators: Petra Popa, Lavinia Mates, Roxana Orasteanu, Antonello Livrano
Participants: Ernesto Stancanelli, Cosimo Aleo , Alessandro Bontà, Giulia Sorbello, Federica Musarra, Niccolò Grassi, Alberto Cuteri, Martino Greco, Omar Vitagliano, Eugenio Risicato, Alice Pollicina, Arianna Lo Re, Federica Russo, Angelo Ruta, Valeria Cristaudo, Erica Parrino, Giorgio Russo
Ph. Stefano Colombo