»I don’t mistrust reality of which I hardly know anything. I just mistrust the picture of it that our senses deliver.«

Gerhard Richter

Blog Lens

Collage Capriccios

The Drawings of Carmelo Baglivo

  • “View of the Octagonal Temple at Minerra Medica”. (All images: Carmelo Baglivo) 1 / 19  “View of the Octagonal Temple at Minerra Medica”. (All images: Carmelo Baglivo)
  • “Venetian Palace”. 2 / 19  “Venetian Palace”.
  • “Structure of Opera”. 3 / 19  “Structure of Opera”.
  • “Enlargement of the Ponte Sisto, Rome”. 4 / 19  “Enlargement of the Ponte Sisto, Rome”.
  • “Roman Holiday”. 5 / 19  “Roman Holiday”.
  • “Ruin of Monument”. 6 / 19  “Ruin of Monument”.
  • “Teca city at the Trevi Fountain in Rome”. 7 / 19  “Teca city at the Trevi Fountain in Rome”.
  • “Place of worship” 8 / 19  “Place of worship”
  • “View of the Tomb of Caius Ceftio”. 9 / 19  “View of the Tomb of Caius Ceftio”.
  • “Teca on Piazza Navona in Rome”. 10 / 19  “Teca on Piazza Navona in Rome”.
  • “View of the Tomb of Caius Ceftio”. 11 / 19  “View of the Tomb of Caius Ceftio”.
  • “Internal structure of St Peter's, Vatican”. 12 / 19  “Internal structure of St Peter's, Vatican”.
  • “Piranesi”. 13 / 19  “Piranesi”.
  • “Linear system at Villa Adriana”. 14 / 19  “Linear system at Villa Adriana”.
  • “Instant City (43 years later)”. 15 / 19  “Instant City (43 years later)”.
  • “Delirious New York (35 years later)”. 16 / 19  “Delirious New York (35 years later)”.
  • “Shenzhen-Rome-Shenzhen”. 17 / 19  “Shenzhen-Rome-Shenzhen”.
  • “Superelevation of Paul Rudolph”. 18 / 19  “Superelevation of Paul Rudolph”.
  • “Structures”. 19 / 19  “Structures”.

Carmelo Baglivo, an architect who set up the multi-disciplinary agency IaN+ with Luke Galofaro and Stefania Manna in 1997, has become known for his extraordinary collages that mash-up historical utopian ideas, post-war Italian film and contemporary references to create powerful new imagery. uncube asked him about his use of collage, how it relates to his ideas on architecture, and how it feeds into his work at IaN+.

Can you explain your interest in collage?

I like how collages use domestic and familiar representations, they are created ​​using recognisable pieces of everyday life. For me collages don’t build an image, but deconstruct it; they show architecture with no function, place or structure.

I think collage has been the ideal tool of the historical avant-garde, because it’s an instrument immediately capable of handling and measuring reality. With collage you can just add or subtract: you can make something new from what you have. You can reinvent the past and create new connections between things and people. I see each collaged image as taking a clear political position. I don’t think they are neutral.

I’m also interested in representing exactly the opposite of the three-dimensional simulations of architectural renderings, which are emptied out of any theoretical interpretation of the image. Today we are at the point where a lot of built architecture has surpassed the spectacle of its own representation. What is the sense of paper architecture, unless it represents something else? We need to provide new ready-to-use imagery. Collages are very immediate; they let you communicate straightaway.

How do you see collage’s relationship to built architecture?

My images are not architecture; otherwise they would probably appear as academic exercises. They aren’t meant as visions or provocations, but reflections made ​​public. In them the city is represented outside any ancient-modern juxtaposition, without history, but as a place momentarily timeless, pure: the city of abstract places rather than of abstract images.

You often use architectural capriccios and utopian ideas from the past as the basis for your collages. What do you see as the role of utopia today?

Architecture has always played an important role in imagining the future, a future that nowadays no longer seems so far away given the speed of change. The loss of the future has also made utopia lose much of its appeal, at least of its imaginative power for social or other revolution.

According to Erasmus: “The best ideas do not come from reason but from a clear and visionary madness”, but it is difficult to believe that nowadays as a society we can rely on visionaries. Within the Western world, utopia seems to belong to the past, or occurs only within isolated communities. Utopia is elsewhere. In the Far East they are experiencing the utopia of shaping a new world without wondering if it’s good or bad – the imperative is to build.

Now the utopia of architects seems to be related only to pragmatic issues, and its realisation only a matter of time. The future does not seem to interest us, we have delegated it to others or to other disciplines, from where we get ideas and resources. Ecological thinking seems to be the only utopian ideas catalyst at the moment, but it struggles to offer new social and architectonic structures and to free itself from the apparatus of rapidly dating technologies.

Architectural utopias are often attempts to rationalise the contemporary city, highlighting its irrationality through an abstract model of reference, as with the mathematical processes behind parametricism.

Do you see drawing and collage as feeding back or informing your practice at IaN+?

With built projects it’s not always possible to reflect on what is happening around, because one is too focused on a single goal: to build. But at IaN+ we’ve always been engaged in architectural research and theory, never approaching architecture using just formal solutions as a starting point, but investigating society’s needs through the use of drawing and diagrammes.

Using collage is an attempt to free architecture from the increasingly exhausted aesthetics characterising our commodified world, where the obligation is always to invent new forms. It’s an attempt to bring an end to the show-off period in architecture, and to think of architecture in terms of implementable and non-iconic buildings.

- Rob Wilson




Recent Magazines

25 Apr 2016

Magazine No. 43

  • essay

    From the Bottom and the Top

    Powering Athens through collectivity and informal initiatives by Cristina Ampatzidou

  • photo essay

    Nowhere Now Here

    A photo essay by Yiorgis Yerolymbos

  • Essay

    Back to the Garden

    Athens and opportunities for new urban strategies by Aristide Antonas

  • Interview

    Point Supreme

    An interview by Ellie Stathaki


03 Mar 2016

Magazine No. 42
Walk the Line

  • Essay

    The Line Connects

    An essay on drawing and architectural education by Wes Jones

  • Essay

    Drawing Attention

    Phineas Harper sketches out new narrative paths with pencil power

  • Essay


    Elvia Wilk on a city of shadows as architectural fiction

  • Interview

    The (Not So) Fine Line

    A conversation thread between Sophie Lovell and architecture cartoonist Klaus


28 Jan 2016

Magazine No. 41
Zvi Hecker

  • essay

    Space Packers

    Zvi Hecker’s career-defining partnership with Eldar Sharon and Alfred Neumann by Rafi Segal

  • Interview

    Essentially I am a Medieval Architect

    An interview with Zvi Hecker by Vladimir Belogolovsky

  • viewpoint

    The Technion Affair

    Breaking and entering in the name of architectural integrity by Zvi Hecker

  • Photo Essay

    Revisiting Yesterday’s Future

    A photo essay by Gili Merin


17 Dec 2015

Magazine No. 40

  • Viewpoint

    Wish You Were Here

    Arna Mathiesen asks: Refinancing Iceland with tourism – but at what cost?

  • Photo Essay

    Spaces Create Bodies, Bodies Create Space

    An essay by Ólafur Elíasson

  • Focus

    Icelandic Domestic

    Focus on post-independence houses by George Kafka

  • Essay

    The Harp That Sang

    The saga of Reykjavík's Concert Hall by Sophie Lovell & Fiona Shipwright




Uncube is brandnew and wants to look good.
For best performance please update your browser.
Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 (or higher), Safari, Chrome, Opera