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URL was born spontaneously at andreacaputo.com studio, out of discussion on urban environment. URL is a Local Research Unit investigating a number of themes relevant to contemporary architectural debate. The fields of investigation are diverse, ranging from the scale of the product design to the scale of the megacity. The various outputs of our activity define different methods of engaging with research, from editing a bi-annual magazine, organising a lecture series, to collaborating with a design gallery and carrying out research for publications.

Public Domain is a bi-annual publication, structured into themed issues dedicated to the city and the misappropriation of public and private space. It represents our editorial approach to research. ‘Public Domain’ refers to the moment when an empathetic exchange between people occurs in an urban or rural space. Through this lens, the publication aims at describing how architectural devices are lived and re-invented by diverse social groups. No more streets, plazas or urban parks, but infrastructural sites, with a purely functional character; a re-purposing of private land such as railway tracks, city rooftops, or physical boundaries, so that contemporary communities are able to find distance from the usual program and develop new relationships.

Lecture Series is an initiative of URL and Manuel Orazi, aimed at bringing the architectural debate into the office. It represents the oral approach to research. Once a month, the studio opens its doors to the city and hosts a lecture on themes tangent to the design dominium. The program is heterogeneous and the lecturers invited come at architecture from different perspectives: historical, architectural, curatorial, aesthetic etc. The lectures are usually short and are held during lunchtime to allow time for discussion after the talk.

Plusdesign is intended as a place for re-thinking concepts and collaborations through research. It embodies the tangible approach to research, becoming a means through which the Unit explores materials, handcraft techniques and product design. The gallery offers a residency project for designers, who are challenged to investigate contemporary design topics through experimenting and producing new design objects. Starting from an idea, the team launches research that ultimately leads to the creation of various works of art. Some of these projects become publications produced by URL.

Editorial embody the collector character of URL. In his years as a university student, Andrea Caputo undertook a personal study of urban cultures and the consequent social and aesthetic influences. The aim of the unit is to continue researching new issues with the contribution of a larger team. Currently, URL is engaged in two research projects to be published in future: Chinese Hacking and European Logistic Platforms.