A personal fascination with obsolescence as an inherent landscape condition lies at the core of a project, which thematically concerns fundamental scientific inquiry. It stems from the preconceived tensions between progress versus obsolescence—and—progress versus accident. The former is a result of the latent dependency of economic progress on the perpetual obsolescence of space exemplified by postindustrial landscapes, a condition which will be elaborated in this paper under Territories of Obsolescence. The latter, however, as Paul Virilio argued in his University of Disaster, is a controversion that scientific progress and accident are two sides of the same coin. His theory provides a critical understanding of the scientific experiment and introduces the counter notions of accident and disaster.
The project addresses the need to contain scientific progress architecturally inside micro-regions of concentrated knowledge and satisfy the territorial concerns of the Big Science that—more often than not—take on an infrastructural scale. It addresses these themes in Trieste—a territory of contested history and sovereignty once envisioned as the city of science and knowledge. Architecture is argued to be a relevant space where the tensions between progress, obsolescence and disaster could play out productively and dive into architecturally little-theorised spaces.
Anatoli Bugorski Independent Research Institute for Scientific Failures inhabits a postindustrial landscape of the former cement quarries in Trieste that allow for sustaining such an institution—by providing the underground territory for experimentation and the primary structural material for the institute. The project speculates on reversing re-naturalisation processes and excavating the underground spaces by employing a room and pillar mining method superimposed upon the critically unstable conditions of the Karstic terrain. Here, the notions of accident and disaster materialise within the postindustrial landscape.