Umberto Napolitano – Species of Space


Species of Space
Umberto Napolitano, LAN, Paris 

‚A bedroom is a room where there is a bed; a dining room is a room where there is a table and chairs, often accompanied by a sideboard; a living room is a space filled with armchairs and a sofa; a kitchen is designated by the presence of a stove and running water; a bathroom is distinguished by a water source positioned above a bathtub; when equipped solely with a shower, it becomes a shower room; when containing only a sink, it transforms into a toilet; an entrance, defined by at least one door leading outside the apartment…‘

In our modern culture, a space exists solely due to its designated function. But what happens to a bedroom when the bed is removed? What this space become?
Between subprime crises, climate upheavals, tsunamis, raging wildfires, and epidemics, the onset of this century shifts the architectural paradigm. Once seen as symbols of stability and permanence, the art of construction must now grapple with an unpredictable future. If the 20th century was marked by prediction, the 21st will be defined by uncertainty. To harness this pervasive uncertainty as a creative force, we must meticulously observe, describe, and comprehend a world that is complex, heterogeneous, and rife with contradiction.

As functionalist models appear to wane, how do we envision spaces of the future? How do we conceive of spaces capable of accommodating the unpredictable, the indeterminate, and the paradoxical that define our era? Are we witnessing the emergence of new species of spaces? Or rather, spaces without species?

Umberto Napolitano

studied architecture at the Università Federico II in Naples and then at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette. Founder of LAN (Local Architecture Network) with Benoit Jallon in 2002, he also conducts a theoretical work through research projects, exhibitions and conferences all around the world. Umberto was professor at the Columbia University GSAPP of New York (USA), at the AA (Architecture Association) School of Architecture in London (UK) and currently at the TU Vienna (A). He is a member of the French Academy of Architecture since 2016 and was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2018.

LAN (Local Architecture Network) was created in 2002 with the idea of exploring architecture as a material at the intersection of several disciplines. This attitude, which has now become a methodology, allows the agency to explore new territories in search of a vision involving social, urban, ecological and functional issues.

The firm’s projects reflect this spirit of openness and cover a wide range of scales and programs: theatres (Maillon Theatre – Strasbourg), prisons (Minimum Security Prison – Nanterre), offices (Euravenir Tower – Lille) and housing (Neue Hamburger Terrassen – Hamburg).

Since 2019 two new projects have been launched in the LAN ecosystem: the Research Laboratory dedicated to Architecture and Reality (RAAR) and the Pianoterra gallery restaurant.

Umberto Napolitano is currently guest professor at the Institute of Architectural Design TU Wien.


(c) LAN – Local Architecture Network, Paris