Jason Rebillot Discusses Urban Displacements and the Third Italy

Associate Professor Jason Rebillot recently presented research from his current book project at Parsons School of Design in New York, as part of the Design History Society‘s annual conference. The session he participated in, ‘Urban Displacements’, was moderated by Parsons’ Ioanna Theocharopoulou and included UK-based researchers Vivian Chan and Aikaterini Antonopoulou. Rebillot’s talk, “Designing the Posturban”, discussed the work of Italian iconoclast Andrea Branzi- framing his speculative project Agronica (1995) as a rejection of the traditional city and its associations in an act of voluntary, self-displacement. In particular, the presentation examined the project’s presumed location in the geo-economic region of the Third Italy, understanding the latter as a territorial system synonymous with the emergence of post-Fordist spatial arrangements.

From Rebillot’s presentation:

“For Branzi, the city represented an empirical condition coinciding with his own suspicion of the polis as the primary unit of study for contemporary urban culture. At the same time, the project mirrored ongoing territorial reconfigurations best understood as a geo-economic teleology related to the evolution of advanced capitalism. Deeply humanist and decidedly suspicious of material accumulation, Branzi led his team toward a model of urbanism imbued with the values of reduction, simplicity, conviviality, and a secularist framework. His was a world in which cows mixed with plows, and farmers with technologists- all equal actors in a productive yet benevolent postindustrial community.”

Founded in 1977, the Design History Society works internationally to promote and support the study and understanding of design history. The DHS is the leading organization that promotes and supports the study of design histories, both in the UK and internationally. Through its journal, annual conference and program of events it brings together all those engaged in the subject – students, researchers, educators, designers, designer-makers, critics and curators among them.

For more information, see the conference’s website.

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Image: Andrea Branzi, Agronica – Philips Design Center 1994-1995