The Pinners, the Grammers and more in the thumbs up era: HPO

The Pinners, the Grammers and more in the thumbs up era

On the occasion of the 58th edition of the Milan Design week – one of the most chaotic weeks of the year – KooZA / rch in collaboration with Bianca Felicori invites you to take an old-fashioned coffee break. Let your break not be a moment of endless scrolling through an infinite sequence of images and rather follow the live talks on our KooZA / rch social media channels. From the 9th to the 12thof April every morning between 10 and 12 am we will bring together creative minds from various creative disciplines – architects, designers, curators, artists, photographers – to talk about architecture at the time of the World Wide Web. Between a “coffee” and a “pastry” we will discuss the increasingly central theme of digital dissemination, analyzing its problems and its strengths, and above all, trying to identify together use and not misuse the power of the WWW.

HPO

HPO took shape in 2017 around the Architecture Faculty of Ferrara, as a reaction to a condition of boredom after days of Brazilian samba and Swiss precision.
Once back from foreign experiences we understood the importance of creating an alternative to our curricular agenda The organization of lectures, events, workshops became the opportunity to understand the architect’s position, reducing the distance between what we are taught architecture is and what architecture can actually be.
This experience led us to the idea that “making” is better than rendering, creating our own opportunity to actively take part in the architectural scene.
As we realized the thin line between university and professional practice we had the chance to set up our first installations: vera plastica, zero, supercinema.
HPO is an experiment aiming to cross the line between an architectural practice and a cleaning agency.

KOOZARCH: HPO, what does it stand for? 

HPO: Our name is not a statement, it does not express a precise idea and it does not allude to any architectural movement. It is just the result of a series of circumstances which brought us together. HPO literally means “Hospital Prato”, anyhow please, feel free to give to this acronym and as many “groovy” associations as you want.

KOOZARCH: As part of a young generation of architects, you probably start your research on the Internet what media platforms do you use and how? 

HPO: Yes we do, a lot. We actually use the Internet and its platforms in a very un-sophisticated way: copy&paste, scrolling and liking are part of our daily routine, similarly too many other people.

In a few years internet has radically changed, from being similar to a Middle age city formed by narrow streets in which one could lose himself, to a Haussmanian Paris whose boulevards efficiently connect centres of interest. Instead of Napoleon III and mattocks, big internet companies and user friendly interfaces made the game.

We are part of this system and we are interested in its banality and in its unexpected outcomes.

KOOZARCH: You talk about making as better than rendering, could you expand on this statement?

HPO: We are part of a generation which generally tends to step away from reality. 

The architecture student is tempted by an incredible amount of virtual allure as per online competitions. For a rather consistent payment these competitions offer visibility and rewards, a first form of exploitation which is set to continue next door, in the world of working.

After having returned from experiences abroad, we thought that to be active could actually be the solution to our condition of academic boredom. Instead of devoting our time to the production of nice images for our portfolios we decided that the organization of events, lectures and the set up of our first installations could become a way to express ourselves as architects in the real world.

KOOZARCH: How important were physical encounters as those generated through the lectures organised by the collective at the University of Ferrara? 

HPO: The organization of a series of lectures called “menodieci” gave us the possibility to bring to Ferrara a series of young architects. Menodieci in Italian literally means “less than ten”, this meant that the lecturers had to have less than ten year of experience, a basic rule to show the different possibilities that a young professional can follow after her/his studies.

Fala Atelier, Fosbury Architecture, Inout, Lado, Lamber+Lamber and Parasite 2.0 were invited to talk about their experiences, in their diversity all of them showed their way to interpret the profession of the architect nowadays.

Anyhow, in their variousness a common thread bound them together, they all had an active role as students and somehow spontaneously we were following their path.

KOOZARCH: Let’s focus on the role and power of images within architectural practice. As a collective between architecture and design, you create temporary installations. This means that your work has a very short life. How important are the photographs and the images drafted to create and document the project as traces of these momentary architectures? How are these stored and shared? 

HPO: The fact that most of our installations are temporary doesn’t reduce their impact on media, pictures and videos are able to emancipate any object from a temporary dimension to a permanent one.

In our case pictures are also essential tools in our design process, from edited whatsapp messages to shared images on media and platforms they somehow trace the evolution of a project, from the idea to reality.

KOOZARCH: You use IG as a platform to reveal the  “backstage” of your work whilst also referring to it as Voyeurism 2.0, could you expand this statement? 

HPO: IG is able to satisfy one of the most common perversions, the pleasure of looking at people doing something. The term Voyeur thus broaders its meaning from its sexual dimension to a more extended one, in which actions like: cooking, eating and crafting become subjects of this game, why not architecture?

As a result the design process itself can potentially become a performance. 

In our project supercinema the crafting process was filmed and shared. This explicitly emphasised how, in addition to he act of crafting our workwear and our bodies were and are part of the design process.

KOOZARCH: To what extent are you concerned with the idea of ‘instagrammable photogenic architecture’ as a means to conquer the digital public?

HPO: Architecture photography has always inclined towards a photogenic and staged composition. IG gave to everybody the visibility and the possibility of sharing their photos and transformed what used to be a bidimensional frame into a multi-layered surface which contains in itself an incredible amount of informations.

As a consequence rather than being photogenic what matters is the potential of layered messages behind a single image.

We are trying to define our own visual identity, looking more towards messages rather than the creating a photogenic outcome.

KOOZARCH: Nowadays what role does one’s digital presence play in the construction of the image of an architecture studio? 

HPO: Architecture has always found in images its most attractive way to communicate ideas, in this sense internet and its platforms represents an outstanding tool which incredibly enhances the possibility to discover and to be discovered. As a consequence one’s digital presence (or absence) represents an incredible opportunity in order to express ones own identity. 

One way of carving out one’s own space in this huge amount of information is to have a strong visual identity (and hopefully strong ideas behind it), nonetheless even banal and naive content can be valued as always a valuable and interesting option.

KOOZARCH: On your website you define “whatsapp” your studio.  How do you use this tool and its “limitations”?

HPO: Tools have always determined artistic production and its diffusion. We are interested in how default settings can influence our process. Decisions made by programmers on the other side of the world put strict rules to our process: autocad, revit, rhino, photoshop, illustrator, instagram, whatsapp, all are the result of some code lines. The more the input is simple the more becomes interesting to play with it. In our case whatsapp became a shared space in which our ideas take shape (somehow our office), its photo-editor in its simplicity represents a fundamental tool in our process. It is somehow forming a common language that from a simple structure evolves in our individual interpretation. 

With whatsapp editor the aim is to create an effective way to draw & communicate ideas between us, using fingers and basic colors, with IG stories default editor was used to communicate ideas to our public and outline an identity.

In order to demolish this wall, our hammer is the internet and its tools.” Referring to the division between the student and the professional world.

KOOZARCH: In your website, you say how internet is the tool to achieve your goal. Now that you entered officially this world, would internet still be the best tool?

HPO: In our website we also describe our group as an “experiment”, and certainly our condition of students helped us to differentiate ourselves from other collectives and studios. We hope that this first part of our path will be useful to other students that like us feel the same needs and willing to react. 

Now that we are officially entering the professional word our experimental behaviour  should look for new horizons. Internet in its vastity still represent a precious tool, both in its virtual and in its real life outcomes, a tool that despite its complexity we will continue to use as an hammer.

KOOZARCH: Now that you have all graduated, what are your next steps? How important will this level of hyper connectivity enabled by platforms as www and social mediums be in enabling you continue the project and the collective?

HPO: We do not think that our graduation changed significantly our activity, IG and other social platforms made already our work visible outside our limited environment.

The www is the ‘hammer’ which has broken the wall between students and professionals, and between local and global. 

Exiting our local dimension without letting it is one of the new challenges that we will face as part of an “hyperconnected province”.