“La Tourette is in-situ cast concrete, and it reads as a singular structure in spite of its volumetric and formal complexities and apparently tectonic language. The monastery is suspended between earth and sky; it echoes the dark depths and gravity of the earth while reaching towards the sky, hovering weightlessly on its dense system of piloti. This building merges the opposing human dreams of flying and being buried in the earth…
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Palazzo del Lavoro. A Forbidden Land
11 June 2017
words & photos: Natalie Donat-Cattin
I was walking in the streets of the almost suburban Turin with sweaty hands and sticky clothes. It was one of those 30-degree sultry days: gray sky, blurry shadows and steamy asphalt.
Under the blazing sun, my friends and I were strolling around the 100 x 100 m perimeter of the building: solid in its geometry, but light in its brise-soleil rusted wrapping, which at first glimpse could be mistaken for timber. We were looking for an “entrance”. In other words, we were seeking for a ford, a slightly lower gate, a tip on the lattice frame to simplify the climbing.
It was on the east side of the building that we stumbled across a line of wild, high vegetation. Here the fence lowered lightly: it was the perfect breaking-in setting. Despite the proximity to a park visited by a number of strange Sunday tourists, we attempted to camouflage ourselves with the surrounding environment and embarked the “aerial-crossing” of the steel mesh. It was with a sweet, adrenaline feeling that we entered that forbidden land: that sense of lightness, heaviness, euphoria and hesitation congenital to all prohibited experiences.
The building stood before us imposing and abandoned. A broken glass and multiple graffiti were evidence that many before us had violated its solitude. Right through a smashed window we penetrated into the concrete soul of the building. Here, an infinite space opened in front of us: a basilica of our time, a cathedral of architecture with no god or religion, a modern days’ ruin.
The echo of our footsteps was the only voice to our amazement, so eager as we were to pace up and down the whole edifice. Only the “mushroom-pillars” gave a rhythm to the room in their obstacles’ nature: sixteen Titans ordered in a 4 x 4 formation and forced like Atlas to support the celestial vault. As the only vertical elements in a volume initially perceived in its horizontality, they were sovereigns of space and caught the attention in their detail and uniqueness; every column broke away from the floor and from its cruciform plan to gather in a perfect circle at 24m above the ground. At that height, 20 deep beams blossomed from its rounded head in order to support a square cut-out of the ceiling.
By now just looking up, we were lost in the light and shadow games defining the vault geometry. Thin strips of natural light acted as separating elements among the huge square tiles. Through these cracks, a serious of sparkling rays entered the building, creating a surreal atmosphere of reflections and transparent walls. At the end of their vertical journey, the rays glimpsed on the floor. Here, however, they appeared vague and unsteady, mirror of the ceiling’s intersections.
Oppressed by this infinite height and width, we decided that it was time for us to abandon this abandoned building. We retraced our footsteps and made our way out from the same broken glass opening. Perhaps it was precisely this illegality that had made the whole visit so special.
I climbed over the steel fence. On this side it was even simpler due to a larger mesh pattern. Once on the other side, the so-called “land of the living”, I stopped, by now having the right distance to rethink this experience. Sic transit gloria mundi. Thus passes the glory of forgotten buildings, made to be rediscovered and worshiped by those few. Those few who are the architects of tomorrow.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Progressing through the maze of columns, towards the centre of Bernini’s eclipse, we find ourselves in front of an imposing white wall, the Dover’s cliff of Rome: Saint Peter’s Basilica. Decorated to the last detail, it can only be compared to the English steep rock face for its whiteness and grandeur. In all other aspects, we can say that the craft of man has equaled if not surpassed the force of nature.
The Barbican Centre – A place of connection, a place of transition between two different worlds: the street and the courtyard. The former, a reflection of everyday life. The latter, an image of the pleasure of stopping, sitting, observing and thinking. Two universes governed by opposing laws: that of motion and that of stillness.
Modern, provocative, rebellious. The new entrance of the Musée du Louvre is this and much more. Criticism has built its reputation, making it the most talked about pyramid in the world. Eternal in volume and modern in material, it represents the architecture of two millennia in a single structure: from the pyramids of Giza to new, innovative technologies. From the first, it inherits the proportions and the form. From the second, the lightness and the transparency.
Architecture is art, and in art lies its completeness. In Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, designed by Stanton Williams Architects, the two disciplines work one in function to the other. The building is like a Rubik’s cube in which all faces have the same colour: the solutions are endless and they all work.