Europa: Italy + Switzerland @ RIBA, London [13 February]

Europa: Italy + Switzerland

19:00 - 20:30

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66 Portland Place, W1B 1AD London, United Kingdom
The fifth talk of EUROPA: Connecting Ideas Across Borders #RIBAEuropa

​Hear from architecture practices Labics, ULTRA Architettura, Manuel Herz, Patrick Reuter and Lukas Raeber at the RIBA.


Labics is an architectural and urban planning practice led by Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori. The name of the practice expresses the concept of a laboratory, a testing ground for advanced ideas. Combining theoretical approach with applied research, the field of interest of the office extends from the small scale buildings to urban masterplans.

Research at Labics is geared towards an open, relational and structured architecture; public space, intended as a place of construction and representation of an open and democratic society, always holds a central role in Labics’ research, from the more theoretical projects like Borderline Metropolis (Venice Biennale 2008) to urban master plans such as Città del Sole in Rome (2007-2016) or architectural projects like MAST in Bologna (2006-2013).

The office has gained several international awards and has been selected for the last two editions of the European Mies van der Rohe Award. Labics has been invited to participate to several exhibitions, among which the 11°, 12° and 14° Venice Biennale and the monographic exhibition La Città Aperta during the Berlin architectural festival “Make City” (2015).

ULTRA Architettura is a Rome based firm arising from the partnership of Emanuela Ortolani, Michela Romano and David Vecchi. Since their common university career at Sapienza in Rome, they have established a compact core that faces every task with similar assumptions, according to which each project is conceived as a narrative sequence open to new formations, but always based on the need of a solid argument.

As well as a wider vision allows to face every problem whit flexibility in relation to its specific factors, in the same way having a well-structured base makes possible to create a valid logical succession.

Each project is an opportunity to explore the ways through which the form and the social role of architecture measure themselves and to investigate languages that can be adaptable to the contemporary. They have been participating in several competitions, gaining awards and mentions, such the first prize in Europan 12 and the first prize for participation in the Moroccan pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale.


The work and collaboration of Lukas Raeber and Patrick Reuter ranges from architecture, urban design and planning to furniture and object design. Both graduated and taught at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH in Zurich. By way of lateral thinking they arrive at original solutions that distinctly respond to the project at hand. Patrick and Lukas understand their work in a very traditional, Vitruvian way. For each project they search for a specific solution, which must be solid, useful and beautiful.

Recently their work has focused on static equilibriums and understanding how structures can work and be understood. These studies are shown in their most recent project at the House in Riehen. Design and construction are connected closely and depend on each other. The notion to combine structure and material in a project is a major part of their work and serves as a guiding idea.

Consequently the authenticity of material plays a significant role in this process. How this affects spaces and can create atmospheres and above all be expressed with building materials authentically is their main experimental field.

Manuel Herz is an architect based in Basel. Among recently completed projects, his office has built the Synagogue of Mainz, and the housing project ‘Ballet Mechanique’ in Zürich. Current work includes projects in Switzerland, Germany, France and Senegal and his projects have received several European prizes.

His research focuses on the relationship between the discipline of planning and (state) power. Herz has authored African Modernism—Architecture of Independence which presents the architecture of countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia at the time of their independence in the 1960s and 1970s.

The accompanying exhibition, shown at the Vitra Design Museum, is currently travelling to cities across Europe, the United States, and sub-Saharan Africa. Manuel Herz has worked extensively on the architecture and urbanism of refugee camps.

His book From Camp to City—Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara documents how camps can be spaces of social and political emancipation. Herz was also the curator of the Pavilion of the Western Sahara at the Venice Biennale 2016, the first time a nation-in-exile was presented at the Biennale.


£9.50 Standard. £6.50 RIBA Members, RIBA Student Members and RIBA Friends

The EUROPA Talks Series is generously supported by L.K.E. Ozolins and The London Community Foundation and Cockayne — Grants for the Arts.
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