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Thoughts in Architecture: CLUBE

Thoughts in Architecture: CLUBE

CLUBE at Monte, Buenos Aires. Courtesy of Flora, Architecture Office

CLUBE is an architecture office based in São Paulo, Brazil. Founded in 2019, the studio establishes its practice through both producing and discussing architecture. Their aim is to stimulate criticism towards the exhaustion of Brazilian modern paradigms and the idea of underdevelopment that informs contemporary local practice.

Started by the duo of architects Gabriel Biselli and Luiz Solano, CLUBE argues against the inert conception of the project is a manifestation of progress in itself. The capitalistic city is considered as the product of the quantitative management of built space, where the architect has less and less control over its form.

Regarding this lexicon, CLUBE proposes alternatives for the qualification of everyday life. This attitude is manifested in both cultural and practical fields. The first one is given while working as cultural agitators of the discipline, organizing talks, small exhibitions, and workshops that aim to share, discuss, and map contemporary architectural practices.

Model of the project M, exhibited during the Non-Domestic Seminar. Courtesy of CLUBE and Josefina Ramírez

In the practical field, the same attitude is translated when formal aspects, material choices, and scale of each project are considered. Bridges between art, furniture, architecture, and design are welcomed. These interfaces, when understood as both material and representational, make the imagery realm the core of CLUBE’s production. As the architects say:

“If to deal with images is to deal with the very know-how and production means of the discipline, to dissociate their illustrative character becomes urgent. When one affirms the idea of drawing as construction and considers its role as a means of production, one inserts the discipline within a visual culture, where the constructed object—with its constituted values, ideologies, and affections—guarantees its autonomy. Thus, to produce a drawing, an image, is to promote the paradigm of an idea.”

Drawing of the project M. Courtesy of CLUBE

One example of the role as a cultural agitator of the studio is the open class “Please, do not disturb” that was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this October. The talk took place within the Non-Domestic Seminar, which is dictated at the Faculty of Design, Urbanism, and Architecture (FADU) of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). The seminar urges the participants to rethink and document the limits of architecture in Buenos Aires, creating a permanent exchange of ideas and material. The seminar is led by Facundo Fernández (FLORA architecture office), part of the Walter Gropius chair (DAAD) and its director Markus Vogl.

The introduction of the talk mapped experiences that controversially introduce the idea of limits and their dissolution within the inherent process of abstraction in modernity. A wide panorama was narrated through works from No-Stop City by the Italian architectural group Archizoom to the radical Brazilian housing experiences headed by Vilanova Artigas during the recrudescence of the dictatorship period. Vanitas, a built project by CLUBE, was shown to explain the studio’s experience on such matters.

Vanitas has been selected and built as a result of a design competition promoted by a furniture shop in 2018. It is in between object and architectural scales—an artefact that contains space; architecture within architecture. Like Le Corbusier’s Beistengui apartment, Vanitas is a chambre à ciel ouvert. As an easily movable cabinet, the device is precise in terms of budget, technical feasibility, and use: there is no sophistication in detail, no formal or structural virtuosity. It is an attempt to produce an autonomous device.

Somewhere between talk and exhibition, this event gathered architects, artists, students, professors, and enthusiasts to reflect on the role of domesticity in contemporary architecture. “Please, do not disturb,” aided the Non-Domestic Seminar, but also materialized the result of an effort to establish a network of discussion that meant from the beginning a truthful, fresh, and courageous attempt to stretch bonds.

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