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Human Spaces Must-Read The Osaka Experience

Osaka ’70 on tour!

So, Maurizio Sacripanti’s reconstructed architecture is finally on tour! If you own an Oculus Quest you will soon be able to download the experience, if not, we can schedule a special VR session and bring it to you – during sessions, we strictly adhere to anti-COVID-19 protective measures.

It’s been 50 years since the conception of Maurizio Sacripanti’s project, never built, of the Italian pavilion for the Osaka Expo.

With T.E.A.M. we made a detailed reconstruction of the 3D model based on interviews with the design team and the study of the architect’s documents, with the aim of experiencing the building in VR with the Oculus Quest.

For our lab, Osaka ‘70 is a research tool that allows us to investigate the relationship between VR and architecture, in particular the relationship with kinetic elements. For the visitor it is a way to explore a never built project – one which is nevertheless fundamental for the history of Italian architecture – and enjoy a total experience of the space as Sacripanti imagined it.

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Frontiers in Design The Osaka Experience Tools and Technology

The Osaka Experience IV: the Rebirth of the Pavilion in VR

Since we decided that our first case study would have been the Osaka pavilion, we started researching the project documentation, which was unfortunately lacking in details since the project never made it beyond the competition. In a 3D model for virtual reality, however, nothing can be left to chance. You can’t use tricks or “dark corners” to hide missing information, as you would probably do for a static render or a video. The visitors must be able to explore the pavilion as if they were actually in the physical space. Everything is out in the open. Likewise, we can’t build the scene as if it were the 3D space of a traditional videogame, where volumes and details of objects are simplified with textures.

This thinking therefore guided our work, but it wasn’t our only consideration. We have to admit that Sacripanti has meanwhile become almost a presence in our lab – we couldn’t have disappointed him.

And so, we imagined ourselves as archaeologists unearthing a building that was never built, re-constructing the Osaka pavilion in 2021, 53 years after its conception.*

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Frontiers in Design Human Spaces The Osaka Experience Tools and Technology

The Osaka Experience III: a Conversation with Maurizio Dècina

As already mentioned in the introductory articles about Maurizio Sacripanti and the Osaka competition, one of the main topics of the research project T.E.A.M is the digital modeling of several architectural designs, some of which were chosen from existing projects. One of them is the project of the Italian pavilion for the Osaka World Expo of 1970 designed by the Italian architect Maurizio Sacripanti.

During the early stage of our research project, we discovered an account of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca made by the Italian engineer and academic Maurizio Dècina. He worked with Sacripanti on the Osaka pavilion, designing the mechanical and electronic parts of the project, and processing a system capable of achieving the movements of the pavilion. We are excited to present the following interview, conducted on July 25, 2020, aimed at understanding the contribution of Maurizio Dècina to the Osaka pavilion, his experience in the social and cultural context of those years, his vision of the union between computer science and architectural design, and finally the technological tools behind the Osaka project. We have translated the interview from Italian to English and the original text will be shown below.

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Human Spaces The Osaka Experience

The Osaka Experience II: the Competition

“An architecture in continuous motion is not utopian… if you consider the normal perception of today’s individual, accustomed to current modes of transportation, television and fast-moving information, this perception is a mutable and dynamic one.”

Maurizio Sacripanti

If you missed the first introductory article about Maurizio Sacripanti, you can find it here.

In 1968 Sacripanti and his team joined the competition to design the Italian pavilion for the Universal Exposition of 1970 in Osaka. He proposed the idea of a space in perpetual motion, a living organism, experimental and courageous, which clearly differed from the other competing projects. This proposal was aimed at the promotion of the messages and contents that were supposed to represent the Italian values of the time. His idea of Italy was clear: “a reality in motion, amidst a thousand difficulties, and with a thousand obstacles, but with a commitment to vital and continuous dynamism” [1].

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Human Spaces The Osaka Experience

The Osaka Experience I: Maurizio Sacripanti

“[…] this man who, using time as an instrument of something else, treated it, as an architect, as if it were matter […]”

Renato Pedio

T.E.A.M. research is based on experimentation. The Piattaforma Zero represents the first laboratory in which to test basic dynamic structures, detached from a precise context. In order to both get a better understanding of the phenomena we are studying and to test the tools of our workflow, we felt even the need to confront existing projects of kinetic architecture.
As a first case study we have chosen to deal with an iconic project of recent architectural history: the pavilion for the 1970 World Expo in Osaka by Maurizio Sacripanti. This architecture, unfortunaely never realized, was presented at the competition of ideas held in 1968 to select the building that would represent Italy at the international exhibition.