The strangest drawings of the 20th century
Architect, author and researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain, Bianca Felicori began to notice these blind spots in contemporary architectural studies after discovering the work of Italian architect Marcello D’Olivo. Felicori was struck by D’Olivo’s “organic, sinusoidal” vision, as she put it. This led her to wonder how little she still knew about 20th century architecture and how many pieces were missing from her education.
That’s Forgotten Architecture, a Facebook group and Instagram page, was born in 2019. Felicori wanted to create a space where people could share and talk about the most imaginative deviations from traditional architecture of the last century that they had come across.
The project is now a book of the same name with images and essays from Forgotten Architecture members around the world. It also includes documents from archives, studies and professional photographers. Some photos are unpublished, others have been unearthed by the current owners of the places and other people who have had them in their hearts for a while.
“I realized that many people shared my desire to go beyond the limits of architectural history taught in universities,” Felicori said. Before long, the band became successful. “What interested me was that it wasn’t just professionals who got involved; a lot of people were from the general public,” she continued.
This caused Felicori to reevaluate the role of architecture in society. Far from the elitist discipline that can be presented as in academic circles, architecture can indeed bring together people from different backgrounds. “I learned that sharing your knowledge can be a powerful tool for creative collective projects,” Felicori added.
In fact, many of the people she collaborated with for the book were complete strangers she met through social media. The essays accompanying the images were written by some of the most active users in the group. The chapters are also organized according to the categories much discussed in the Facebook group, including ephemeral architecture, gas stations, nightclubs and resorts, houses and playgrounds.
Thanks to this project, Felicori got closer to several people, including Giulia, the owner of the house designed by the Italian architect Ettore Sottsass for the Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. (Giulia mentioned not sharing her last name to protect her identity.) “When she can, she opens her house to the public and shares it with the Forgotten band members,” Felicori said. But that’s just one of many friendships born within the community “between architects and relatives of deceased designers, photographers, owners of amazing homes and many more people.”
And that’s only the beginning. “We have so much material that we could make a box set,” Felicori said. “There are still so many topics to cover: from summer camps to hotels, from bars and restaurants to town halls.”
The book is available (in Italian) for pre-order until June 7. Scroll down to see more photos: