PoliTO Studio: Architectural Practices in China and Latin America

2020 – 2023
PoliTO Studio is a project of internationalisation of the professional practice in the field of architecture, born from the framework agreement signed in 2020 between Politecnico di Torino and the Ordine degli Architetti di Torino (OATO). The aim of the project is to offer a support to the architectural practitioners in international markets where Politecnico di Torino built consolidated collaborations during the last years such as China, Latin America and Africa.

Leading University: Politecnico di Torino (DAD + DIST + China Room research group)
Partner Institutions: Ordine degli Architetti di Torino (OATO)
Research Grant: Ordine degli Architetti di Torino (OATO)
Academic Team: Michele Bonino, Valeria Federighi, Camilla Forina, Lidia Preti
Architectural Team: Michele Bonino, Cristina Coscia, Antonio Cinotto, Valeria Federighi, Urszula Grodzicka, Roberta Ingaramo, Peter Jaeger, Paolo Mellano
Advisors: Roberto Zanino, Francesca De Filippi
Technical Support Committee: Edoardo Bruno, Camilla Forina, Xian Lu, Lidia Preti
Coordinator: Laura Rizzi

Meiguan AXO2

The relationship between academic and professional world in architecture is the object of a long disciplinary debate: on one side, the space for research available within the academy has led scholars to define boundaries for architectural culture that are increasingly separate from (rather than beneficiary for) the world of professional exchange. On the other, professional exchanges have been increasingly subject to the controversial mechanisms of the market. Chinese Design Institutes offer a notable exception, with a model that institutionally combines academic research and professional practice on a large scale. Through a collaboration between Politecnico di Torino (Polito) and Ordine degli Architetti di Torino (OATO), the POLITO Studio project aims to support professionals in international markets, and, more widely, create an incubator of opportunities for professionals and scholars to engage in joint activities.

To test this collaboration, the pilot case for the year 2021 is China, a country in which, in the course of the past ten years Politecnico di Torino consolidated a number of collaborations. For the first year of Polito Studio, twelve OATO registered architects – single or associated – were selected, and have been accompanied by the China Room Research group in applied projects in China, such as design competitions or design consultancies. Moreover, a number of professionals will participate in a two-year program of training activities, in the form of workshops, as introduction to the Chinese market in order to acquire skills and background knowledge to face architectural competitions in China as a team. For the first time in the Italian panorama, a cooperation between professional practitioners, academic researchers and students is being framed in order to maximize the possibility for all actors involved to benefit from the competences of one another.

The first workshop was held in July 2021 as the primary occasion to familiarize with a design competition in China, focusing on the technical and procedural tools that are characteristic of Chinese architectural design competitions. In the framework of POLITO Studio, other initiatives have been parallelly launched. For instance, curricular internships which give master students from Politecnico di Torino the chance to be involved in real projects, thus enriching their educational path in architecture; and an “Observatory of best practices” that selects international case studies where the interaction between academia and practice takes place. Each case study is explored through an interview and a description of the specific structure, aims and methods. In the following years the project POLITO Studio will be experimented in other geographies such as South America and Africa.