Central Archive of Human Cultures


2A+P/A (Gianfranco Bombaci, Matteo Costanzo)
Gian Piero Frassinelli

The collaboration between Gian Piero Frassinelli and 2A+P/A reaches its climax in the Central Archive of Human Cultures, a project initiated by a text written by Frassinelli after the Budapest Competition. Following the narrative method inaugurated by the Ideal Cities and addressing directly his anthropological studies, Frassinelli brings to the extreme his critical meditation on the essence of architecture and the city vis-à-vis the nature of mankind.

In the language of a short science fiction story, he proposes an uncanny reconciliation between the disappearance of the diversity of human cultures – surrendered to the forces of extreme acculturation, endless production and globalization – and the possibility, in architecture, to save those invaluable, fragile treasures.

Facing the impossible philological exercise of giving form to a paradox, 2A+P/A produced a design that is acrobatically suspended on the line between narrative and architectural form. Liberated from the constraints of site boundaries and programmatic requirements, this architecture can radically expose the tension between the material and the symbolic dimension of mankind, unfolding in a vast monumental gesture – reminiscent of a Roman basilica – that is both mysteriously archaic and heavily technological.

The ziggurat-like black marble case – whose primitive purity is ambiguously profaned by the addition of the service building and the atrium on the short sides – contains a high-tech urban interior where the environment and movement are perfectly controlled by the most sophisticated mechanization. And yet the endless grid of shelves immersed in reddish half-light is meant to provoke emotions through the contact between the visitor and the perfect sensorial reconstruction of any known human culture.

The Central Archive is the archetype of an anti-museum, revealing how any attempt at preservation and curation is an ideological construction and therefore an act of power over man. Nevertheless, organizing the possibility of an unlimited personal sampling of the collection the project, proposes an instrument of liberation from power and stages the conditions for the individual to reestablish a deep emotional contact with human kind at large.

Davide Sacconi