Written in 1971, Superstudio’s 12 Cautionary Tales anticipated, with its critical attitude against the totalitarian and alienating aspects of the advanced capitalist metropolis, the debates on production, consumption and sustainability that arose following the 1970s economic crisis. Situated at the crossroads between architecture, literature and graphics, this work revealed a vision of urban reality that was both extreme and radical, and rejected what until then, had marked the body of architectural research connected with social utopias. Investigating and meditating in an unconventional way the existing network of human relations through its physical dimension – the architecture of the metropolis – Superstudio’s work presented a critical theory that stood out as a negative reflection on reality, unveiling its deep and hidden contradictions through a utopian and cognitive model. It still represents one of the most interesting contributions to an alternative debate on architecture and urban planning, highlighting the importance of the dissenting role of architects and intellectuals in society.
Superstudio’s 12 Cautionary Tales was instrumental in reinvigorating the discussion around architecture and city development models. Its influence survives to this day, and contributes to fully illustrating the richness and the breadth of the critical debate pertaining to growth strategies of the 1970s.