In a contribution by Matteo Vercelloni to the volume Progetti e Paesaggi (Bologna Fiere 12/15 March 2008), relating to the work of studio studio Topotek 1 founded in Berlin in 1996, by Martin Rein-Cano (Buenos Aires, 1967) and Lorenz Dexler (Darmstadt, 1968) the theme emerges of “a of landscape and greenery design, in a condition that combines attention to the re-reading of existing conditions in a synergistic and multidisciplinary way".
In urban and extra-urban situations, in abandoned industrial areas, in temporary installations, in effective comparisons with historic gardens.
The surface as a primary redevelopment tool
For Topotek 1 "the earth's surface is the place of human movement, the origin of man's work. And man paints, draws, structures and defines this surface as something observed from above. [But] the surface was not only used as a canvas on which objects are placed, but as an object itself.”
In this sense, the surface becomes the primary tool for redevelopment and landscape intervention with the precise "purpose of establishing a dialogue with nature and the landscape".
Assuming the surface as a reference element and responsible care for the environment are among the main themes of the project which poses Topotek 1. Part of that widespread contemporary phenomenon which crosses the entire planet with multiple design expressions: architecture temporary taken as an opportunity for compositional experimentation but also as a vehicle for conveying messages and values.
We are talking about all those projects that intervene in the context of reflection on the landscape and on the territory in a sensitive way, without however building, in the volumetric and traditional sense of the term, permanent built volumes.
From the surface to the material of the landscape, the work of Topotek1 has developed as a conscious process of reflection around the environment and the actions that can be implemented to preserve and enhance it.
Environment and landscapes become key points of a reflection that is carried out in the two latest recent installations by Topotek, presented at Interni's FuoriSalone, at the exhibition INTERIOR Design Re-Evolution, last April at the University of Milan and now, as part of Landscape Festival-The masters of landscape in Bergamo, in Piazza Vecchia.
The Topotek 1 proposal: a collective action
In recent years the world has had to face crises that have left no one indifferent
From the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic to the general increase in atmospheric temperatures in cities. A study published in 2023 shows that if cities extend tree cover by up to 30%, temperatures can drop by half a degree Celsius during summer heat waves. Seeing the potential of this shared effort, Topotek 1 proposes a collective action articulated in three concepts: deconstruction, activation, green growth.
Grow Together, Grow Green / 10K
Last April's site-specific installation for the Cortile d'Onore, entitled Grow Together, Grow Green / 10k+, was configured as a modular and interactive structure of approximately 30 square meters of surface area and 6 meters of height, made up of light and reusable scaffolding that acted as a collection center for a collection of small potted plants. Visitors were invited to take a plant home and take care of it.
Similarly and with the same title but in different dimensions (15 x15 5 meters high) the large pyramid located in the center of Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo aims to stimulate and promote a collective action for the care of greenery.
The temporary dimension of the installation intends to confront the historical structure of the city and the Piazza Vecchia, but only for a certain period of time.
The invitation to citizens to participate promoted by Topotek is part of a process of social conscience towards the protection of the landscape, and does not want to stop at the mere judgment of form relating to temporary architecture.
The figures of the two temporary installations by Topotek appear to be functional in expressing a concept of architecture that aims to stimulate reflection on territories and functions, in its iconic dimension (the large parallelepiped in Milan, to symbolize a skyscraper and a pyramid in Bergamo) to promote a reflection on the importance of urgent social and environmental awareness.
The idea of using a removable and reusable structure that acts as a collection point for a collection of plants underlines the thesis of a conscious and sustainable approach to the landscape.
A theatrical stage
Contemporary society tends to represent itself with greenery and even homes have become a symbol of this attitude.
This is demonstrated by the recent production of Outdoor-Indoor objects for the home, which are increasingly similar to each other, and the development of terraces and balconies, more and more domestic spaces where the inside "exits" towards the outside.
Topotek 1 has developed an exhibition design proposal that presents itself as a "theatrical stage fragmented into different scenes related to situations linked to the contemporary landscape".
Martin Rein Cano claims, in an essay published for Progetti e Paesaggi / Luoghi Non Luoghi published by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore in 2008: "we try to work with this language, transporting it and transforming it and making an aesthetic experience of the trafficked surface and its graphics a poetic landscape language”.
In the case of the two installations, however, the temporary set-up does not merely limit the construction of new "fixed" volumes, but amplifies the action of the project in the action of intervening in specific contexts by introducing a privileged point of view that conditions and directs the vision in an innovative way. Light and targeted interventions capable of modifying more than just individual landscapes, parks and gardens, but also the way of perceiving them, walking through them and enjoying them.
In the case of the "green pyramid" of Piazza Vecchia, the architectural figure, deliberately elementary and recognizable, does not intend to be the subject of attention; the protagonist is in fact the message that the tutoring structure wants to convey. The small plants offered to the city are the collective tool to stimulate urban participation towards an active transformation of the landscape that welcomes us. A resource to be looked after, maintained and implemented such as the support of Arketipos, organizers of the event, to the reforestation program of the area near the city's monumental cemetery, intends to demonstrate.