Picture of superstudio founders Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia taken in 1968 barechested


Italian architecture collective

Superstudio (founded in 1966, closed in 1978) was one of the most revolutionary collectives of Italian architects of the 20th century. It focused on the exploration of “anti-architecture,” breaking the conventions of modern architectural design away from consumerism and inviting people to explore the meaning of design and architecture separate from the desire for luxury. Although the architects at Superstudio were theoretical in aim—they never completed a single architectural project during their tenure—the novelty of their designs posed essential questions and encouraged pivotal evolutions in the field of Italian design.

The idea for the creation of Superstudio came from Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, both of whom had studied architecture at the University of Florence. They set out in the late 1960s to create a conceptual collective that would focus on the exploration of “anti-architecture”—that is, designs that broke the conventions of modern architectural design. One of their more substantial creations was a series of conceptual sketches called “The Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization” (1969). In this series, the collective envisioned an architectural form that encircled the entire globe in an effort to achieve a heightened level of harmony with the cosmos. read more

By the early 1970s, Superstudio had grown to include Roberto Magris, Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Magris, and Alessandro Poli. This dynamic team of architects came together to imagine the new possibilities for architecture, ranging from the psychedelic to the science fictional, which they expressed in both visual and film forms. One of the most influential film series created by the collective was Supersurface, which was developed in 1973 and consisted of commercial-length film clips that challenged the representations of “modern” design as presented in the Museum of Modern Art’s “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” exhibition the year prior (in which they themselves had displayed works).

The architects at Superstudio exhibited their conceptual works at the Triennale di Milano in 1973 and soon after enjoyed two tours showcasing their designs, one that circulated in Europe (“Superstudio: Fragmente aus einem persönlinchen Museum,” 1973–1974) and another that traveled to America (“Sottsass & Superstudio: Mindscapes,” 1973–1975). The collective began to break up later in the 1970s, but members of the group continued to exhibit their Superstudio work in the 1980s. Furthermore, the influence of their avant-garde proposals helped shape the advancement of Italian architectural design for decades to come. In 1966, Archizoom and Superstudio jointly organized the influential Superarchitettura exhibition, from which a strong theoretical design framework emanated and where the design objects and prototypes exhibited showed a strong English pop influence.

Today, Superstudio designs can be found in museum collections around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt; the Centre Pompidou in Paris; and the “Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985, The Dennis Freeman Collection.” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 14, 2020–April 26, 2020).

For additional information about Superstudio, please visit the following: 

Superstudio: The Architecture Collective That Influenced a Generation” Metropolis

Superstudio.” MAXXI.

Superstudio.” Poltronova.

Last updated: February 8, 2020

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