In 1971, Gianni Pettena took part in the “Trigon” competition in Graz (Austria) entering a series of fifteen proposals, among which Imprisonment and Architectural Project #2 (proposal n° 7) and Grass Architecture I and II (Proposal n° 14), which won first prize. These visionary projects questioned the temporal dimension of architecture as well as its relationship with nature. They extended and completed the in situ interventions the Italian architect had done during this period in his effort to develop a method for physically reading the territory.
In Architectural Project #2 and Imprisonment (colored in 1980), the trails of passing airplanes crisscross the sky, creating the outlines of a grid of clouds. Here, the legacy of the grid in modern architecture is rendered formless, as if “naturalized” by the evaporation of the clouds, subject to chance and the freely drifting trails left by the airplanes. The passing airplanes flying in formation “works” the sky over Graz, temporarily giving it a physical dimension and materializing what “imprisons” architecture, i.e. the geometric strictures of modernism, in its quest for the perfection of classicism while ignoring its own imperfections.