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Exploring Orizzontale - an interview with Giuseppe Grant

Exploring Orizzontale - an interview with Giuseppe Grant by Naïna Dion-Barbin and Jasper Runge

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In the bustling world of architecture, where innovation and creativity thrive, Orizzontale emerges as a beacon of distinctive design philosophy and community engagement. With a name that echoes their commitment to horizontal dynamics and equality, Orizzontale has carved out a niche for itself in the realm of urban and temporary design. Founded by architect Grant and his team, Orizzontale's approach to architecture goes beyond mere aesthetics, delving deep into the fabric of communities and the spaces they inhabit. 

The name "Orizzontale" itself holds profound significance, embodying the ethos of equality and collaboration. Grant explains, "Orizzontale is because we focus on an approach where we are equal to each other." This emphasis on horizontal dynamics transcends mere architectural principles, extending to their work culture and community engagement efforts. Rejecting traditional hierarchies, Orizzontale embraces a collective approach where every voice is heard and valued. As stated on their website, their projects are guided by the principles of participation, inclusion, and reciprocity, reflecting their commitment to fostering meaningful connections within communities. 

One striking aspect of Orizzontale's portfolio is their affinity for temporary structures. Embracing temporality as a tool for experimentation and adaptability, they redefine the boundaries of architectural intervention. Grant elaborates, "We decided to use temporality in construction to have the ability to experiment in a changeable way." This emphasis on temporality allows Orizzontale to seamlessly integrate their interventions into diverse urban landscapes, leaving minimal ecological footprints while maximizing community engagement. Their approach to temporality extends beyond mere functionality, imbuing each project with ethical and aesthetic values that resonate with local contexts. 

Central to Orizzontale's practice is their participatory design process, where communities actively contribute to shaping the built environment. Grant describes their role as architects as mediators, facilitating dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders. He notes, "An Architect is like a director without a Film". This approach ensures that Orizzontale's projects reflect the aspirations and needs of the communities they serve, fostering a sense of ownership and pride among residents. Whether it’s revitalizing public spaces or creating temporary installations, Orizzontale's participatory design process remains at the heart of their practice. 

Orizzontale's commitment to community engagement extends beyond their design projects to encompass educational initiatives and cultural programs. Through workshops, exhibitions, and collaborative events, they strive to empower individuals and communities to take an active role in shaping their urban environments. Their website showcases a diverse array of projects, ranging from urban interventions to research initiatives, each reflecting Orizzontale's unwavering dedication to innovation and social impact. 

In a world where architecture often serves as a symbol of power and privilege, Orizzontale stands out as a champion of inclusivity and equality. Their horizontal approach, rooted in collaboration and community engagement, offers a refreshing perspective on the role of architecture in shaping our cities. As they continue to push the boundaries of design innovation and social responsibility, Orizzontale serves as an inspiring example for architects and urban planners worldwide, reminding us that great architecture is not just about buildings—it is about people, communities, and the stories that bind them together. 

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Orizzontale’s work: the interventions in BelMondo 

Orizzontale's interventions in BelMondo center around the 'Cantiere Domestico' philosophy (Domestic Construction Site), transforming the construction site into a communal space for continuous dialogue and collaboration between architects, collaborators, and the local community. Their approach, rooted in "conscious uncertainty," fosters constant experimentation and engagement, treating the construction site as an incubator of ideas. Additionally, through projects like "BelMondo Tracks," they focus on valorizing territorial heritage, commons, and public spaces, facilitating global-local collaboration and community involvement.

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