Simone Ferracina (EDO) and six alumni/alumnae from his Radical Harvest design studio at The University of Edinburgh (Tallulah Bannerman, Molly Deazley, Eilidh Duffy, Sarah Kemali, Rana Tabatabaie, and Andrew Wyness) present Cumulo (Heap/Cloud) at Genova BeDesign Week 2022.
The title of the project, installed in the courtyard of Marcantonio Sauli's palace in Genoa, is a play on the ambiguity of the word "cumulo," which in Italian indicates both a heap (often with a negative connotation, which presupposes the low value of the objects within it) and a cumulus cloud—an aerial and unstable, temporary, and mutable architecture. The metaphorical grounding of the project can be found in the tension between these two definitions and dimensions.
On the one hand, the project develops and extends the objectives and experiments of Radical Harvest, a design studio that, within the Architecture BA/MA (Hons) programme at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), diverts and repurposes discarded or low-value materials, adopting them as starting points for the development of tectonic and architectural solutions and reinterpretations, and for reconsidering how notions of use and value can be decoupled from the consumption of raw materials and energy, and from ecocide. The materials in Cumulo—wire hangers, reclaimed jeans, and milk cartons—are utilised (in the etymological sense of "made useful") in a new context, and transformed into strange walls, columns, screens, and benches.
On the other hand, the project responds to the theme of the event—time—as a fundamental ingredient for understanding both the materiality of buildings and their sustainability. Here, the term 'material' does not refer to fixed, stable, and independent categories (wood, stone, steel, etc.), but to all manner of objects that are paid due technical and architectural attention. It is this attention and care, which privileges embodied and situated materials—ones present and experienced in a precise place and at a specific time—that guides the installation, animating it and changing it over time. The modules that make up Cumulo are disassembled, moved and reassembled periodically—responding to different uses and users, and reminding us that their value cannot be reduced to the unity and integrity of a single author or project.