Mediterranean dreams

13 Aug 2009

Antonino Cardillo discusses the concept of a Mediterranean house

'Somewhere in the Mediterranean', this house called Lime and Limpid Green, a quote from Pink Floyd album Astronomy Domini, would rest to observe and be observed. The project is due to be exhibited at the Rotterdam Biennale from the end of September to January of next year. Here, architect Antonino Cardillo explains the conception of the house as an architectural showpiece:

"The history of man has developed through continuous interaction between different people. It often happens that the dominant take possession of the submissive, managing to disguise the process by carefully rewriting history. This has probably resulted in the belief on the part of some societies that they are the exclusive owners of something. Just one example. What we in the West call 'modern' is in part the result of the elaboration of that extraordinary reservoir of visions and contents, called the 'Orient'.

"Years ago, around Marrakech, spread out over the arid plains, I saw some large fences. From the outside, I could not understand what lay beyond, but I believe that they were lodgings. What could be within those walls? What was life like there? These questions stimulated my imagination for some months.

"Today, in the project commissioned by Wallpaper magazine, I tried to imagine a possible solution. From the palace of Akhenaton to the projects of Mies, history is full of examples of courtyard houses. This mode of living fascinates me because it brings into question the need to define an 'external'. So, rather than identify itself with its shell, the building finds its true essence within, where the parts of the composition can speak to each other inside the 'empty heart' of a patio, creating a dialogue that recalls the cities of a pre-modern Mediterranean.

"The layout is composed of two different juxtaposed buildings within a rectangular enclosure. The living building is characterized by curvilinear walls and opens out to the sky through large lunette-shaped windows. In the evening, from inside, the building looks like a polyhedron of concrete, witnessed through the windows of the rooms out to the patio.

"The shape of the living space interacts with the path of the sun in the sky throughout the day and seasons, creating a favorable climate. So, towards the south, the vaulted roof protrudes further than the glass, becoming a shield to surpress the high summer sun, whilst allowing the low flow of the winter sun."

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