Monthly Archives: April 2019

PhD Lunchtime Talk: Matilde Cassani

Celebration Days

The spatial implications of cultural manifestations in the contemporary western urban context

Friday 3 May 2019, 1:00-2:15pm, 33 FFF

Since Baroque times a celebration has been an event that can be repeated more than once over time with the same rules but which starts in the same way and always ends in different ways. A party can be a moment of happiness but also of collective sadness. The place is the centre of the city, where the celebration reproduces the macrocosm in a microcosm. The event involves arts and crafts, religion and superstition, history and myth; individuals and communities, sometimes becoming a global fact. There are numerous opportunities for having a celebration. It can be a local or international event and may even be run by another country. A party reflects or foreshadows real events whether they be political or cultural, sacred or profane. During the event, the artisans under the guidance of its director produce artifacts that will be the protagonists of the show. Often the celebration closes with fireworks before everything finishes and the glory comes to an end. The ephemeral frequently also becomes a form of experimentation for a more lasting design and anticipates a more in-depth change. Celebration “designers” were the most important architects of the time during the Baroque period and their events were also reproduced in paintings, described in books and remembered for generations. In one way it may be said that a celebration is an architectural project in all respects, from a single element to its totality where the architect is not only the designer but also the director and the communicator. Ephemeral architecture becomes a reason for transforming a city, where the stage is the city itself and the mass of people are an integral part of the show. The lecture will focus on celebratory events and their “anticipatory” agents of the changes of the city and the roles of its architect.


Matilde Cassani moves on the border between architecture, installation and event design. Her practice deals with the spatial implications of cultural pluralism in the contemporary Western city. Her works have been showcased in many cultural institutions, art galleries and were published in several magazines such as Architectural Review, Domus, Abitare, Flash art, Arkitecktur, Arqa. She has been a resident fellow at “Akademie Schloss Solitude” in Stuttgart and at the “Headlands Center for the Arts” in San Francisco. Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York hosted her solo exhibition “Sacred Spaces in Profane Buildings” in September 2011. She designed the National Pavilion of The Kingdom of Bahrain at the XIII Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012 and she was part of the XIV Venice Architecture Biennale with the piece “A celebration day”, recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She was recently involved in the Chicago Architecture triennale, Oslo Triennale and Manifesta12. She currently teaches at Politecnico di Milano, at Domus Academy and at the Architectural Association in London working with Unit 11.