Architectures of Hiding

Claudio Sgarbi, in collaboration with David Bastien-Allard, Rubin de Jonge and Fabio Elia Sgarbi Biondi

Hidden Relics

Relics of a secret design were found hidden inside a wall of a building: two lavishly illustrated empty match-boxes, a holy picture with a prayer, a king of cups briscola card, a wooden spoon.

What can we infer from these relics? Endless stories. They were hidden for all the ghosts to come and for all our possible accidents of the real. They were given to me as a gift, because I am an architect, and the person (builder or rather un-builder) who handed them down to my donor has already joined the f|ock of the un-knowns. Even more unknown are now the hider(s) of the relics and all their “reasons”! I fathom, for a moment, their spontaneity and a naiveness that might alone be the most powerful deterrent against (our?) evil eyes. But maybe it was malice. Maybe it was apotropaic, or a curse, or a desperate search for accomplices - as we must be. Who knows!? This is what got hidden and found: all the infinitely secret “who-knows”.

The architecture of this secret lies in its meticulous secrecy. And the necessity of this secrecy is the essence of architecture. These relics were buried in a wall and so we have retrieved them. They were buried without any sign of their burial. The retrieval was unintentional. Was it? They were found as a surprise. Was this a mistake? Or a trick? Was the wake of this finding planned? Imagine that you are demolishing a wall to open a door. Suddenly you find a cavity and in that cavity you find some remains, curios, strange relics. Someone must have buried them there. “This is architecture” (A. Loos). There is always something to hide in order to build. There is always something to build in order to hide. This is why to build you shall hide something, whether you like it or not. But you arrogantly say: “I have nothing to hide!”. This negation that you want to hide is the full expression of your hubris.

We, nilly-willy, conspirators of these secrets, are now even thinking again and again about how to accomplish the truth of the destiny for these relics – traveling vast distances, joining strange unpredictable situations into an empty school of architecture. Who-knows.

Keywords: secret, hidden, relics

DR. CLAUDIO SGARBI, Dottore in Architettura (IUAV), MS, Ph.D (University of Pennsylvania), Visiting Professor (Lebanese American University), Adjunct Research Professor (Carleton University), Tutor (Marangoni Design School), is a registered architect and is lecturing in several universities. His research concerns the ethics, the image and the gender of the architect, the design of construction sites, the building technologies, and the relevance of architectural history and theory in our contemporary projects. He designs, writes, publishesand lectures to accomplish these projects while being fully involved in the construction processes. He is working on a publication with the title Misconceptions: The Infertile Belly of the Architect.

DAVID BASTIEN-ALLARD is a graduate student at the Azrieli School of Architecture, he is known for his interest in filmmaking, classical architecture and contemporary design. David’s research is based on inclusive designs, mental health and ways architecture can improve well-being. Aside from being an architecture student, David is also interested in social issues, gender equity and human rights. His hope for the future is that architecture and mental health will play a larger role in society.

RUBIN DE JONGE recently completed his Bachelor of Architectural Studies with a focus in design at Carleton University. Prior to pursuing his degree, he worked as a craftsperson building hand-made guitar—from which he carries skills and principles into his current vocation. His areas of interest include the study of architectural scale, seeking to reconnect what we measure with how we measure, and how the ‘memory’ of a drawing translates into the impression of a space. He currently holds the position of Research Assistant at Carleton’s Immersive Media Studio where he is pursuing techniques which combine digitally assisted and manual fabrication.

FABIO ELIA SGARBI BIONDI, Photographer (IED, Madrid) with an education in architecture (IUAV) develops his figurative research traveling between spaces of conflict and territories of everyday banality. He dwells in the omnipresent tension that springs from the ordinary and extra-ordinary. His images are a meticulous attempt to capture visual frames of recurring coincidences.

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