San Rocco have been announced as the recipients of the inaugural Icon Award for Emerging Architectural Practice of the Year.
However, San Rocco is not your typical architectural practice. Departing from the traditional model, San Rocco is a collaboration of firms with different disciplines; Instead of buildings, they are known for their publishing projects.
The collective takes their name from a never-built housing development designed in 1971 by two young Italian architects, Aldo Rossi and Giorgio Grassi. The group believes that the design, being typical of neither of the architects later work, suggested a new kind of architecture that was never fully developed. “In San Rocco, common does not mean dry, and personal does not mean egomaniacal. San Rocco seems to suggest the possibility of an architecture that is both open and personal, both monumental and fragile, both rational and questioning.”
Their magazine, a temporary publication, was launched at the Venice Biennale in 2010. They have committed to a five-year plan of nineteen issues only, each issue dealing with a particular theme, as set out in their plan; they have colorful titles such as Mistakes, Monks and Monkeys and Goodbye Enemy Spaceship/The Landlord is Dead.
All the content for the magazine is crowd sourced; at the end of each edition of a ‘call to paper’ for the next magazine is published. To create a constant narrative across the issue, the call to paper is kept narrow and specific. Here, they disect the theme of the following issue and invite readers to contribute pieces exploring, or reacting to it. Given minimal editing, these pieces are compiled and published.
At the 13th Venice Biennale, San Rossa contributed to FAT s "Museum of Copying" with their project “Books of Copies”. They made a list of 100 topics, which they sent to various architects. They then asked the architects to produce photocopies of any images, which could be copied to create architecture. These A4 sized sheets were compiled by topic to create “Books of Copies", each book being both unique, and entirely copied.
They took the time to explain their work to us at the Venice Biennale last year.