MOULDING MATTERS – Naples AA Visiting School 2018 Review

by Jessica Pappalardo, Lingxiu Chong, Jonathan Foote
05 July 2018 Naples, Italy   [caption id="attachment_7547" align="aligncenter" width="360"] The first AAVS Naples “Moulding Matters” workshop at the Church of Santa Maria Della Misericordia ai Vergini, Sanità, Napoli[/caption]   The first AA Visiting School in the city of Naples Moulding Matters was launched earlier this year in April, sited in the SMMAVE Centre for Contemporary Arts (a 17th century church and hospital complex Santa Maria della Misericordiella ai Vergini, in the Sanità neighbourhood). The second phase will take place this September in the Palazzo Ayerbo D’Aragona Cassano, presently the Casa Fondazione Morra, a contemporary art museum that hosts several art residency programmes and other collaborative events.   Moulding Matters is a nascent research project into architectural mouldings and their derivatives, with an anachronistic, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach. Throughout the long history of the built environment, Greco-Roman ornament has endured by being continually adapted to new forms of architecture. This research project aims to study and reinvigorate this ubiquitous and perennial architectural language in its diverse contexts, functions and materials. By adopting the format of intensive collaborative workshops that combine research and making, augmented by today’s design methods and technology, the project seeks to establish new modes of architectural craft.   [caption id="attachment_7549" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Palazzo dello Spagnolo, architect Ferdinando San Felice[/caption]   The city and buildings of Naples provide a fertile ground for investigating the matter of mouldings. With ornaments and motifs both unique and bizarre, Baroque Naples offers endless opportunities for new encounters. From the magnificent hawk-wing stairs of Ferdinando San Felice to the esoteric facades along the Spaccanapoli - Naples' original Roman east-west axis - we survey the city looking for inspiration to develop our own vocabulary of details and geometries.  Building mouldings seem to be in a constant state of movement and metamorphosis - dripping, stepping, flowing - giving one the instant feeling that 'classical' architecture has nothing to do with static rules.
[caption id="attachment_7551" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Nathalie Esnee practising casting[/caption] From the grammatically-correct Classicism of a 19th century ceiling rose to the geometric abstractions of a Modernist Architrave, from fragments of Pompeii’s remains to the grand excesses of a Baroque cornice, we each select our own artefact and style to further explore.  The craft of plaster mouldings is taught by fourth-generation artisans of the Donofrio family, giving students the unique occasion to work closely with masters of the moulding craft. A deep source of knowledge of traditional Neapolitan plaster mouldings, the Donofrio masters provide a springboard for thinking through making.   [caption id="attachment_7552" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Distorted Capitello[/caption]   Set against the backdrop of the city of Naples, the life, chaos and flow of its streets and facades, the workshop challenges students to question and subvert classical architectural ornament.  The students’ site-specific installations and ornamental prototypes, drawn from the local and the natural (including figs, blackberries, octopi and oysters), present bold and experimental new ideas for architectural ornament, advancing the tradition of architectural mouldings towards a future of playful experimentation.   [caption id="attachment_7553" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Phoebe McElhatton, Fritto Misto[/caption]
Through the following sessions to take place in September 2018 and beyond, the larger project of Moulding Matters advocates for mouldings as a common architectural denominator in contemporary discussions of details, periods, styles, cities and regions. In the universality of the subject of mouldings, as well as the proposed project methodology and results, this project aims to have far-reaching impact across different disciplines and regions in contemporary global design culture.   We believe that Moulding Matters as they are universal, dating back to the first architectural solutions.  They become a way of reading our cities, these small white details tell us everything about the space, shadows, structure and at times simply become the backdrop of the city through ornate facades that showcase the life that was there before us.  The material, plaster and silicone for the moulds, with its elastic properties and fast setting times gives us a unique, immediate way to study and reinterpret our moulded surroundings.   [caption id="attachment_7548" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Fondazione Casa Morra, Salita S. Raffaele, 20 Napoli[/caption]   This September’s workshop will be hosted by Casa Morra, founded by art collector Giuseppe Morra, who created the Hermann Nitsch Museum and a renowned collection of artworks by John Cage, Marcel Duchamp and Allan Kaprow. This even more extraordinary site will be the base of our continued site-specific studies of Neapolitan mouldings with a new selection of historic mouldings and contemporary design technology in partnership with London fabricators.   You can join us in shaping this next installation of Moulding Matters, from 20 – 29 September. We would be honoured to make you part of our project and expand the course to a broader public together.   Sign up this summer while a limited number of spaces are still available.   For more information: AAVS Naples microsite Apply to AAVS Naples 2018 Follow us on instagram Fondazione Morra For any inquiries please email or   About the Naples AA Visiting School: Director: Jessica Pappalardo Tutors: Jenya Andersson, Lingxiu Chong, Jonathan Foote, Federico Letizia & Harjit Sembi Students: Armaan Bansal, Nathalie Esnee, Valentina De La Rosa, Phoebe McElhatton , Gianluca Palmiero, Dafni Rigas, Morgan Solorio, Shutian Zhou Partner Organisations: Architectural Association (London), Aarhus School of Architecture (Aarhus), IUAV (Venice), PLP Architects (London), Page & Turnbull (San Francisco), SMMAVE Center for Contemporary Arts (Naples), Officia Keller (Naples), Casa Fondazione Morra (Naples)