In his recent book, Caricature Architettoniche, Gabriele Neri conducts an extremely rigorous examination of the complex relationship between the posters and proclamations on architectural theory of the last 150 years and the veritable “counterpoint” of written and graphic satire. If some of these vignettes might seem like the predictable outcome of the endemic “resistance to change”  that every innovation generates as an equal and contrary action, many of them manage to demolish the over-simplified assumptions underlying the regional expansion following World Wars I and II and their formal outcomes.
In a recent study into housing conditions in European cities exhibited as part of the show
At Home 20.20 at the MAXXI in Rome, the figures accompanying the photos of the living spaces of students and young professionals in Paris make one shudder: one 8 or 12 square metres space containing all the furnishings, cupboards and utensils required by a temporary inhabitant of the new metropolis.
The surreal, or perhaps hyper-real plans (in an “augmented reality” world, Alvar Aaltissimo’s drawings seem to consciously pursue the ideal of a “diminished reality”) illustrating the imaginary flats to let or buy in Milan, a city forever waiting to be admitted to the club of great European capitals, thus become an element of critical reflection on the living conditions in the city. The captions that accompany them are the key to their interpretation and constitute the means of deciphering the graphic cryptogram and the trap of an unexplored pyramid in which the sancta sanctorum (the virtual inhabitant whose physical and moral attributes must of necessity dictate the very specific characteristics of the space depicted) is forever hidden from our sight and left to our imagination.
In their Chronicles of Bustos Domecq, Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares had great fun with the literary style and interpretative grids of an imaginary art critic trying to make sense of the most extreme experiments by contemporary artists; in one of the fake essays, entitled “The Flowering of an Art,” Bustos Domecq describes the gradual detachment of architectural design from the shackles of a supposed original sin, that of having to respond to a “need.” Set definitively free, the “Uninhabitables” – buildings you can’t even get into, but which can be observed from outside – can finally be regarded as “pure” architectural statements, in which the composition of the parts is regulated by autonomous matrices. 
It is perhaps not surprising that the apparently naïf graphic style of the plans illustrated in these pages strikingly resemble those in the graphic work of some of the most interesting young figures on the European cultural scene: Dogma, Piovenefabi, Matilde Cassani, YellowOffice/Francesca Benedetto, Salottobuono/Matteo Ghidoni, Baukuh and many more. Arthur C. Danto described the essence of this operation as “the transfiguration of the commonplace,” i.e. the more or less pronounced feeling of alienation engendered by the modern age on objects and icons of mass society.  In this sense, one could say that these plans cause us to look at the world of domestic architecture as if through a mirror in which the inverted or deformed image unveils and destroys the automatisms.
Through the Looking-Glass?  A reference to Lewis Carroll’s merciless and irreverent logic and is perhaps the only way at this point to halt the almost surreal montage of authors, thoughts and citations in this “occasional essay,” written by Alvar Aaltissimo’s greatest fan: your most affectionate Cino Zucchi.
 Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, Nouveau Précis des Leçons d’Architecture: Données à l’École Impériale Polytechnique, Fantin, Paris 1813.
 Antoine Arnauld and Claude Lancelot, Grammaire Générale et Raisonnée Contenant les Fondemens de l’Art de Parler, Expliqués d’une Manière Claire et Naturelle..., Pierre Le Petit, Paris 1660. General and Rational Grammar. The Port-Royal Grammar, I Volume 208 in the series Janua Linguarum. Series Minor. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110874716
 William J. Mitchell, The Logic of Architecture: Design, Computation, and Cognition, MIT Press, Cambridge 1990.
 Burgess Shale fossil-bearing deposit in Canada – which documents the so-called “Cambrian Explosion” of around 500 million years ago – which also contains the soft parts of the organisms; a number of findings, such as the Hallucigenia and the Acinocricus, defied scholars’ attempts to catalogue them for years, given that their morphology could not be traced to any known animal species.
 Marc Augé, Domaines et Châteaux, Seuil, Paris 1989.
 Natalie Merchant, VH1 Storytellers, DVD, recorded 14th September 1998 at the Manhattan Center, New York, Warner Bros Music, 2005.
 Adolf Loos, Architektur, in “Der Sturm”, 42 (December 1910), English translation by Shaun Whiteside, Ornament and Crime, paperback published as part of Penguin on Design, 2019
 Groupe μ, Rhétorique Générale, Larousse, Langue et Langage Series, Paris 1970, II edition Seuil, Collection Points, Paris 1982. A General Rhetoric, by Group μ, English translation by Paul B. Burrell and Edgar M. Slotkin. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981
 Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis 1968. Cf. Chapter V.
 Heath Robinson, K. R. G. Browne, How to Live in a Flat, Hutchinson, London 1936. On the subject of one-room residential units, see also Robin Middleton, The One-Room Apartment, in “AA Files”, 4 (July 1983), pp. 60-64, Architectural Association School of Architecture.
 Josef Frank, Architektur als Symbol: Elemente Deutschen Neuen Bauens, A. Schroll & Co., Vienna 1930-31.
 There are a number of articles that describe in detail the buildings and interiors in the Greater London area used by Kubrick as settings for the film. Alex’s house is on the Southmere Estate in Thamesmead.
 Genesis, Foxtrot, Charisma Records, 1972, third track on the A side. “This is an announcement from Genetic Control/ It is my sad duty to inform you of a four-foot restriction on Humanoid height (…)/ It’s said now that people will be shorter in height/ They can fit twice as many in the same building site/ They say it’s alright/ Beginning with the tenants of the town of Harlow/ In the interest of humanity, they’ve been told they must go/ Told they must go-go-go-go.”
 Jacques Tati, Mon Oncle (1958) and Playtime (1967). Both Tati and his production company Specta Films got into serious financial difficulties when building the set for the latter. It portrayed an entire “modernist” city called Tativille. On the building of Tativille, see also the 1965 documentary Tativille-sur-Marne.
 Gabriele Neri, Caricature Architettoniche. Satira e Critica del Progetto Moderno, Quodlibet, Macerata 2015. Cf. Cartoon Architecture, Essay by Gabriele Neri, The Architectural Review, 16 January 2017.
 “The building which carries out these principles covers a rectangular plot with a frontage of six yards and a depth of something slightly under eighteen. Each of the six doors that go to make up the façade of the ground floor, communicates, at a distance of some thirty-six inches, with a similar door, and so on in succession, until at the rear of the building we arrive at the eighteenth door. Severe paneling on each side divides the six parallel systems, which all together add up to the imposing sum of one hundred and eight doors. From the windows of houses across the street, the careful observer may make out that the second floor abounds in staircases of six steps that go up and down in zigzag form; that the third floor is made up entirely of windows; the fourth, of thresholds; and the fifth and last, of floors and ceilings. The building is of crystal, a characteristic which clearly facilitates examination from the outside. So perfect is this jewel, in fact, that no one has as yet dared copy it.
And so, having come down to the present, we conclude this brief sketch of the morphological evolution of Uninhabitable Dwellings, those concentrated refreshing whiffs of pure art which do not pander to the slightest trace of utilitarianism. Inside them, nobody finds his way, takes his ease, sinks himself down into comfortable furnishings, greets the passerby from the inaccessible balcony, waves a handkerchief (or throws himself) from the upper windows. Là tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté.” Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Cronicas de Bustos Domecq, Editorial Losada, Buenos Aires 1967. Chronicles of Bustos Domecq. English translation by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Allen Lane, London 1982.
 Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. A Philosophy of Art, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1981.
 Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) written by Lewis Carroll. Through the looking-glass, Alice enters a world where logic is turned on its head, in which fragments of reality and language are jumbled up to generate nonsense, or to make us reflect on their habitual mechanisms. The following is the first verse of the famous poem Jabberwocky contained in the book, crammed with portmanteau words:
“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;/ All mimsy were the borogoves,/ And the mome raths outgrabe.”
Title: Case Milanesissime. Piante dell’Abitare del XXI secolo (Exceedingly Milanese homes: 21st Century Floor Plans)
Author: Alvar Aaltissimo
With an Essay by Cino Zucchi
Published by: Corraini Edizioni