La Marionettistica | Florence, Italy | Unit 21 | 2023

This project proposes a puppet workshop and theatre in Oltrarno, Florence — a district renowned for its vibrant artisan culture. The chosen site, Piazza di Cestello, holds significance due to its proximity to the River Arno and the 17th-century church San Frediano in Cestello. Despite Florence’s historical association with puppetry through works like ‘The Adventure of Pinocchio,’ the city’s puppet culture is currently diminishing.

Inspired by the controller-and-controlled relationship found in puppetry,
especially marionettes, the project seeks to develop a puppetry-like design process that
can create cause-and-effect outcomes, finding visible, invisible, immediate or remote
connections. The design is driven by puppetry in mainly two ways: Firstly, the mechanism behind the manipulation of puppets by puppeteers has evolved into a digitally-programmed drawing machine called the ‘Puppetograph.’ This tool assists in translating various samples into new ones, such as the context, original design, puppet movements, and material textures. Secondly, the satirical nature of puppetry, where a real person tells stories through the performance of an inanimate character, has inspired the creation of dichotomies within this project. The aim is to develop dual qualities in the space, such as heavy and light, dynamic and static, solid and flexible.

La Marionettistica not only proposes a building closely tied to its site but also seeks to demonstrate how puppetry can become an applicable architectural tool, letting not just animate bodies but also architectural languages and elements become the subjects of control and being controlled. It also emphasizes the cause-and-effect contrasting relationship in the process, and how it can lead to outcomes that form juxtapositions themselves.

La Marionettistica – Final Film

Project 1 | La Passeggiata [through the Cast Court]

Digital Puppet | Mechanism Investigation

Motion tracking a digital puppet to unveil the manipulation between the puppeteer and the puppet.

Puppetograph | Drawing Machine

A digitally programmed drawing machine that transforms one profile to another, subsequently designing them into spatial vignettes.

Puppet Workshop and Theatre | Plan and Section

Plan of the building within the context and a section through the main indoor theatre. Puppetograph expressions demonstrate the puppetry connections within the space.