Totipotent Architecture is an inhabitable sculpture created by Lucy Orta that stands in Linear Park in Corso Tazzoli. This park is part of a project to redesign the area that was previously dedicated to parking, in front of the entrance to the Fiat factory in the Mirafiori North district of Turin. The project underlying the work took as its starting point the wish expressed by a group of students of two high schools in the neighbourhood - "Cottini" (artistic lyceum) and "Majorana" (scientific lyceum) – for an open area within the new park where they could meet, relax, read, chat: "an atoll, a sort of free port". Lucy Orta's research, focusing on the relationship between body, environment and community, lent itself perfectly to the patrons' expectations, involved as they were in planning a form that would be welcoming and protective but, at the same time, transparent, luminous, illuminated.
Totipotent Architecture is a large structure of organic form, comprising a concrete base that extends on three different levels, surmounted by a semicircular roof made of steel tubes. The curvilinear pattern of the base recalls the shape of a pluripotent stem cell, the unit with unlimited potential that controls the construction of an entire organism. Impressions of the patrons' body parts, made of aluminium with the collaboration of the Ornamental Plastics Department of the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts of Turin, and subsequently impressed into the surface of the concrete base, highlight this potential, inviting anyone "inhabiting" the sculpture to take on relationship-inspiring postures. Totipotent Architecture is thus offered as a structure that changes according to how it is used.
Lucy Orta was born at Sutton Coldfield (GB) in1966. She lives in Paris and London. In 1991 she has founded, with her husband Jorge, the Studio Orta, whose research addresses the relationships within the community and between individual and environment with a multidisciplinary approach. Amongst her recent solo exhibitions, with Jorge Orta, there are: Amazonia, Natural History Museum, London, Wjheizij – Milk, Permekemuseum, Jebbeke, Belgium, 2010, Anctartica, Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2008. She took part in the Biennials of La Havana, Johannesburg and Venice. In 2007 she curated the Biennale al Fin del Mundo at Ushuaia, Argentina. In the same year, Lucy and Jorge received the Green Leaf Award for artistic excellence with an environmental message, at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.