Labics: Structures

Wooden architectural models
Man with glasses looking at model.
Visitors to the Labics exhibition in John Hartell Gallery get an up-close look at the models. William Staffeld / AAP
Cardboard and wood models on plexiglass and wood tables.
Exhibition models are lit from below to add drama and focus to the display. William Staffeld / AAP
white cardboard model lit from below.
A close up view of a model reveals the fine details. William Staffeld / AAP
Woman and Man standing by models in a dark room.
Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori, founders of Labics, during the exhibition reception in John Hartell Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP
Woman looking at a model in an exhibition.
Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20) studies the details of a model during the exhibition reception. William Staffeld / AAP
Visitors to the Labics exhibition in John Hartell Gallery get an up-close look at the models. William Staffeld / AAP Exhibition models are lit from below to add drama and focus to the display. William Staffeld / AAP A close up view of a model reveals the fine details. William Staffeld / AAP Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori, founders of Labics, during the exhibition reception in John Hartell Gallery. William Staffeld / AAP Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20) studies the details of a model during the exhibition reception. William Staffeld / AAP

Structures is an installation consisting of 50 architectural models based on three structures created by Labics between 2014 and 2015. The models were constructed from an abstract matrix of spatial archetypes that demonstrate some of the recurring themes in the studio's research — the boundary between interior and exterior, dilation and compression, and architecture and landscape. The matrix was set up as a logical process based on three successive choices that came to form the rules of the game. The first rule was to unify the size of the various models in order to render the starting point as neutral as possible. The second rule concerned the choice of three different structural logics requiring three different materials for their construction. The chosen structural systems exemplify, both in language and in tectonic terms, three common methods in architectural construction — frames, surfaces, and volumes. The third rule covered the definition of three different geometries inherent to the structural logic.

Since the structure, in a broader sense, constitutes the internal order of a system and incorporates a complex rule of relations within the composition, each model of the matrix stems from the application of a certain spatial theme to the specific structural logic adopted. Once the architectural theme was established, every other decision was a logical consequence of the choice made. Taken together, the models are a landscape in which they investigate in an iterative manner the relationship between structure and space; a landscape in which architecture is not described or prefigured in an allusive way, as it occurs in the drawing, but is simulated immanently: the models are themselves architecture. The exhibition depicts not an analysis or an exercise on form but a pronunciation on the role of structure in architecture.

Based in Rome, Labics is an architectural and urban planning practice founded in 2002 by Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori. Labics has won several national and international architectural competitions, including CDU (University Campus) in Milan (2003–04), the Mast in Bologna (2006–13), Città del Sole in Rome (2007–16), and, most recently, a series of residential buildings within the Cascina Merlata masterplan in Milan and the extension of the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara. In the past few years their projects Piazza Fontana in Rozzano, Mast in Bologna, and Città del Sole in Rome have garnered awards with the last two buildings also being selected for the Mies van der Rohe Award.

Their work has been exhibited internationally at the 2008, 2010, and 2014 Venice Biennales of Architecture and the Make City Festival in Berlin in 2015, and has been featured in numerous significant publications. This exhibition marks their first solo exhibition in the U.S. and is sponsored by the Department of Architecture.