Hipo H / Limited versus unlimited

Federica Ottone, Roma, Marzo 2011, Madrid, Enero 2011 

In a recent publication I have defined “progetto secondo” (the second project) as a typical condition under which the architect is forced to work and design.
This concept emerges from Frank Gehry’s definition regarding the use of building materials: “a raw material (wood, metal, and stone) doesn’t exist anymore” (intervista su El Croquis n. 45, 1990).

We should define it as “materia seconda”, thinking that a raw material is something that has already gone through a process of transformation and it is ready to be used in new and different ways. 

Similarly “progetto secondo” also refers to working within a process of transformation that has already been started (an urban, preliminary and final design process). The architect often has a limited role; he/she operates in a particular phase within well-defined circumstances, but being able to modify previous objectives.
If we consider the design process as a large, complex and undefined subject we can’t aspire to keep everything together, being obliged to work within the entire system with new and limited ideas.

The complexity that makes us overcome these situations is often used as an excuse to justify the lack of action, as a way of abandoning initial ideas.
Plato thought the idea of limitation and indeterminateness is innate in the same concept of limit. The material that is in continuous transformation is constantly fed by limited ideas, that are produced by clashing perfection with what is limited rather than with what is unlimited.

Appropriateness, competence and capability are necessary to give real meaning and strength to limited ideas and to transform them into experiences.
The idea by itself is not enough; it needs to be applied to a real scenario, it has to be touched and lived.

A technological and scientific approach can give a bigger impulse to ideas than a formalistic path can.
In a cultural environment where the main issues are shared with Institutions and media (ecology, sustainability, residues) the design process is an instrument useful to discover real possibilities that can be scientifically and practically demonstrated. It is a possibility not a solution, since its strength is shown in comparison to other possibilities.

The recent experience of French landscapers Patrick Blanc and Gilles Clement is useful to make us understand that it’s no longer useful to refer to a single profession, but it is more useful to translate a small idea into something that can modify inhabitable spaces.


The subject of “progetto seconda” as a spin-off of Gehry’s “materia seconda” is inspiring and well read. Perhaps the article could pursue this line of thought in its essence.

rafamartín:Limited versus unlimited
I haven’t been able to fully understand the core idea that wanted to be expressed in the article. In my opinion, it would be better if you followed a more structured approach such as: intro/executive summary, development of the key ideas that support the conclusion, and then a clear conclusion.

Shime’on: Uncertainty
After evaluating Gilles Clement and his concept for “The Third Landscape”, we should also take into consideration human “non-action”, which is uncertainty as factor in the design process.
It can be seen as something unpredictable, nor programmable, but connecting all transformations in the same network, meaning it can be enclosed by “a physical universe, which we know from our perceptions and our representations”, as Edgar Morin says.

Fede: Proceso versus procedimiento
“Proyectar significará establecer un procedimiento de definición sucesiva. Proyectar es negociar. Ya no interesa apoyarse tanto en los procesos, que venían impuestos por aquellos datos, sino en los procedimientos.
Lo procesos son precipitaciones, son lineales, cerrados, tienden a la sobreactuación y a que nos despreocupemos. Los procedimientos son metodologías de negociación, abiertas, series donde no importa el orden sino la posición. No deben prefijarse sino inventarse. Los procedimientos permiten abrir la proyectación a la modificación, la participación o la adaptación a nuevas condiciones”.
Soriano, Federico: sin_tesis. Barcelona: Ed. GG, 2004. Pág. 194.

más información: http://www.hipo-tesis.eu/numero_hipo_h.html