18-04-11 // DEADLY SERIOUS – INTERVIEW WITH ADOLFO NATALINI
Adolfo Natalini is taking a photograph of a neobrutalist building by Ricci in Florence, 2011, photo by Beatriz Ramo, ©STAR
Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer spoke on behalf of MONU with Adolfo Natalini. Natalini was one of the founders of the legendary 60ies architecture firm Superstudio, which was one of the major part of the radical architecture movement of the late 1960s. In 1991 Natalini founded the Florence-based office Natalini Architetti. The interview took part in his office in Florence.
Beatriz Ramo: When we opened your website, the first thing we saw was this picture and we thought ‘he looks very serious’.
Adolfo Natalini: I am very serious. I am deadly serious.
BR: We were reminded of historical paintings, where everything in the composition had a meaning. They were very narrative. We X-Rayed every element in your photograph; they seem to reveal tradition, culture, decorum…. Does it show the values you are striving for as an architect?
AN: This is a funny photograph. Somebody asked us to be in a very professional portrait, something to be used for an advertising campaign by the brick producers of Italy. And they wanted us to look like serious professionals, so they did it this way. Which by the way I like, because you can see several objects that I produced myself, like the chair, the bookshelf…
I think that this photograph does represent the office quite well. In fact we are quite old-fashioned guys; we are not modern at all. I have always dressed in the same way; we always wear ties, because we were brought up in families in which we were supposed to be properly dressed. I am a man of habit; I have always the same things… And in this photograph is one of my best friends. Fabrizio Natalini and I have been working together from the beginning of ’71. So it’s a sort of family photograph.
BR: So Fabrizio was already with you during the time of Superstudio.
AN: Fabrizio was the only collaborator at Superstudio, because at the very beginning you had the five of us, Fabrizio, and the secretary, which by the way was my wife.
BR: If Fabrizio has shared all the experiences with you, from Superstudio to Natalini Architetti, he probably did not see this radical change in your work, which most people insist on pointing out. We think that rather than changing you just moved from writing to building, but your position has stayed the same.
AN: To me it was not a radical change. People look at both images at the same time, but there are 40 years between the two of them. If they look at my work in chronological sequence, they will not see a radical change. In fact, the most conceptual work was not produced during the Superstudio years, but towards’79 and so on, when I designed the Romerberg in Frankfurt or the Jerusalem project, which are much more theoretical than everything else that we did before.
The difference is that with the more recent projects we were using the tools of architecture and in the previous ones we were using the tools of art, literature, and so on…
…the complete interview was published in MONU #14 on the topic of Editing Urbanism on April 18, 2011.
Title: Deadly Serious
Project: Interview with Adolfo Natalini
Date: April 2011
Type: Commissioned interview
Topic: Editing Urbanism
Publications: MONU #14, P.57-67
Interviewer: Beatriz Ramo, Bernd Upmeyer