Journey and research
Each project is a journey made of exploration, encounters, discovery, and in-depth research. It is a path that fuels itself with continuous external stimuli, comparisons with form, matter, language, and technology.
We research by collecting reports and scientific material on events and phenomena such as climate change and the Mediterranean territory. We organize information, and test sources, as we did for example with school architecture. We build knowledge on matter. Above all, we listen, analyze and verify.
Sometimes we collide with reality, but we always pick up the thread by measuring ourselves with the imaginary part of reality.
The following research projects that are related to our professional activity were developed thanks to this particular approach.
Architecture is needed to design places
But that is not enough
You need dialog
500×100 is a platform for dialog created in 2015 with the will to investigate all that comes with architecture and design in their integration process with the city. A rich archive of video interviews (more than 500) to designers, administrators, and cultural figures, testifies Alfonso Femia’s commitment to understanding the constant transformation of the environment and how fast urban contexts change. Over time, 500×100 has developed different formats with its travel companions Marco Predari and Giorgio Tartaro.
Tempodacqua develops a reflection on the environmental issue, not in generic and all-inclusive terms, but by choosing the specificity of water that represents its essential and foundational aspect. It is a permanent project that appeals to architecture and art to help “change the imagery of change”. It was the main theme of the Pisa Architecture Biennale held in 2019 and directed by Alfonso Femia.
Mediterranei Invisibili was ideated in 2017 to explore and research the Mediterranean territory by telling its unexpected stories. Since then we have traveled three times between Sicily and Calabria – in the area of the Strait – and we have been once in Città della Pieve and Venice.
Scuola Social Impact was originated from a personal reflection of Alfonso Femia concerning schools as the only public function able to create cultural and social wealth for the country. During the lockdowns due to the pandemic, it turned into a theme of research on national territory. Scuola Social Impact does not refer to a modern type of building but it affirms schools have the energy to re-generate the city. The project was presented in November 2020 with the collaboration of the Fondazione and Order of Architects of Turin.
Transversal to our design activity – and the main thread of Alfonso Femia’s work and the Atelier(s)’ cultural research – is a permanent study on materials, their unique and historical aspects, and their technological evolution in the application to design and architecture. “In a permanent virtuous circle, matter refers to crafts – the art of making – and crafts draw energy from the territory. Our history and our memory belong to the territory. So if we don’t stay connected to matter, if we don’t take care of it and conserve it, we lose our identity.”
Art and invention
The connection between art and architecture guides the soul of the Atelier(s) and intertwines with our research on materials. Alfonso Femia has developed, together with Danilo Trogu, a study on ceramics through the creation of architectural models, “author frames”, and the “Bestiario Mediterraneo” artistic project: ceramic elements created to narrate the Docks of Marseille project, the Urbagreen residences in Romainville, and the Great Railway Workshops in Turin for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. Recently, Alfonso Femia has also designed art installations like “The other face of the Moon” (2019) and “Disco di Nebra” (2020), as part of the Hoperaperta project by Patrizia Catalano and Maurizio Barberis.