Antonino Cardillo

An Anthology of Interpretations

La Grotta dei Coralli by Diletta Bracchini

[...] Amante della letteratura e della componente tattile dei materiali, l’architetto siciliano Antonino Cardillo ha sviluppato, attraverso i suoi progetti, uno stile che trascende l’ordinario e riconduce lo spazio contemporaneo ad una forma classica. Specus Corallii è una delle sue ultime opere, un progetto di restauro che riporta alla luce la dimensione sacra di un antico oratorio attraverso l’immaginario della città in cui sorge e la sensualità dei materiali utilizzati. [...]

Diletta Bracchini: “La Grotta dei Coralli a Trapani di Antonino Cardillo”, in:, Wolters Kluwer Italia, Milan, January 2nd, 2017.

Architektur als Rausch by Jeanette Kunsmann

Licht und Schatten, Stein und Staub, aber vor allem: Symmetrie. Antonino Cardillo ist ein Architekt der klassischen Schule, seine Räume suchen nach ähnlich großen Gefühlen, wie Richard Wagner sie in seinen Opern komponierte. Auf das „Haus aus Staub“ und die „Grünliche Götterdämmerung“, einem Galerieumbau in Rom, folgt diesen Sommer Specus Corallii: eine „Korallenhöhle“ in Trapani auf Sizilien, der Heimat Cardillos. [...]

Jeanette Kunsmann: “Antonino Cardillo: Architektur als Rausch”, in:, BauNetz, Berlin, November 29th, 2016.

L’Architecture est un Songe by Sipane K-Hoh

En 2015, à Londres, l’architecte sicilien Antonino Cardillo a présenté une installation qui reste encore dans les esprits. Retour sur une œuvre épurée qui s’avère être une ode à l’architecture. Dans l’une des rues géorgiennes de la capitale anglaise, derrière un portail typique se trouve un espace des moins anodins. Selon son architecte, il s’agit d’une « grotte ». En effet, si l’on regarde de près, les murs rugueux et la maçonnerie artisanale nous font penser à un antre millénaire. Pourtant il s’agit d’une scénographie menée intelligemment par l’architecte Antonino Cardillo. [...]

Sipane K-Hoh: “L’architecture est un songe”, in:, Paris, 28.11.16, ISSN:2269-9600.

Antonino Cardillo interviewed by Zurain Imam

[...] I see architecture as an attempt to investigate forgotten meanings from the past. I am currently constructing an architectural codex which references to ideas of protection (the grotto) and eroticism (the arch). The grotto alludes to uterine protection and arch to the phallus, both sacred origins of life. Thus such classical references, unconsciously seeded in the imaginations of people, admonish us that other worlds also existed. [...]

Antonino Cardillo, Zurain Imam: “Antonino Cardillo”, in: «Odda», no.11, New York, September 2016, p.426-427.

Storie di Altre Stanze by Beppe Finessi

There are interior designers who magically sweep away all established practice and make a name for themselves with a project destined to became a milestone. We have seen this recently with Antonino Cardillo, whose House of Dust (Rome, 2013) proposes metaphysical settings of great beauty, where the interiors speak of memories deposited in layers of colour that have never seen before.

Beppe Finessi: “Storie di altre stanze”, in: Stanze. Altre filosofie dell’abitare, XXI Triennale, Marsilio, Milan, September 2016, p.169.

Cor Que Domina by Carolina Junqueira

Q: Seu trabalho é conhecido pela presença marcante de cores e materiais. A combinação desses elementos gera que tipo de atmosfera?
AC: Cores e materiais são instrumentos necessários para criar histórias. A arquitetura funciona se seu vazio é capaz de alterar a realidade e revelar os planos invisíveis da existência, esses labirintos de significados encerrados pelo nosso inconsciente. Esse é o tipo de atmosfera que importa para mim.
Q: Como é a escolha das cores e dos materiais?
AC: Cada decisão está relacionada com a história que cada trabalho arquitetônico quer contar. Por meio da arquitetura, tento explorar os significados antropológicos que cada cor e material possuem. Assim, no projeto House of Dust, o gesso áspero marrom faz referência à terra nua; em Crepuscular Green, a abóbada brilhante esverdeada lembra as profundezas de um rio; os vasos de vidro em Colour as a Narrative referem-se à natureza aérea do perfume.
Q: Muitos de seus projetos de interiores empregam o uso mínimo de objetos decorativos, deixando a arquitetura falar por si só.
AC: A redundância deve ser evitada na arquitetura. O minimalismo não importa para mim. Aprendi com a arquitetura antiga a atitude de buscar a qualidade fundamental de uma obra. Afim de definir um projeto significativo, você deve aprender a renunciar a distração.
Q: Em sua opinião, o que torna um trabalho de interiores prestigioso?
AC: Um trabalho é prestigioso quando pratica a magia.

Antonino Cardillo, Carolina Junqueira: “Cor Que Domina”, in:, São Paulo, August 2nd, 2016 (retrivied).

Digitale Wirklichkeitsversprechen by Carolin Höfler

Im Jahr 2010 veröffentlichte das Designmagazin H.O.M.E. einen Bildbeitrag über das House of Convexities des italienischen Architekten Antonino Cardillo in Spanien. Zuvor war Cardillo im Londoner Magazin Wallpaper zu einem der 30 bedeutendsten jungen Architekten ernannt worden. Er hatte zahlreiche Print- und Internetmedien mit seinen Entwürfen versorgt und dabei den Anschein erweckt, dass seine Bilder physisch gebaute Räume zeigten. In Wirk-lichkeit handelte es sich jedoch um fotorealistische Computerrenderings ohne Bezug auf ein realisiertes Bauwerk. Vielfach diskutiert wurde die Frage, warum Cardillos Irreführung gelungen war. Warum wurden Cardillos Bilder, die als Renderings leicht erkannt werden können, Fotografien vorgezogen oder gar als Fotografien wahrgenommen? Eine mögliche Erklärung hierfür wäre, dass die Unterschiede zwischen Bild, Modell und Wirklichkeit in der gegenwärtigen Gestaltung zunehmend verschliffen werden, was eine Fiktionalisierung von Wirklichkeit bewirkt. Einerseits gleicht sich die gestaltete Wirklichkeit immer stärker der fotorealistischen Ästhetik von Computerbildern an, andererseits trägt die Nachbearbeitung digitaler Fotografien dazu bei, dass diese wie Modellrenderings wirken. Die Entgrenzung von Fiktion und Realität ist mit der Schaffung vermarktbarer Bilder verbunden, die in einem globalen Bildkreislauf erfolgreich zirkulieren und ein Massenpublikum eher emotional als intellektuell ansprechen können. Der Vortrag widmet sich dem „digitalen Realismus“ in Architektur und Design und reflektiert die Konstruiertheit der Bilder und ihre Wirklichkeitsversprechen. [...]

Carolin Höfler: “Hyper Desire. Digitale Wirklichkeitsversprechen”, Gastvortrag im Interdisziplinäre Ringvorlesung “Wunsch”, Technische Hochschule Köln, June 1st, 2016, Koln.

A Shop with No Products in Sight by Jessica Cooper

Somewhere on Dover Street, round the corner from high-brow Mayfair filled with the hustle and bustle of shopaholics frantically shopping in the luxe houses of Chanel, Prada and Dolce and Gabbana, there lies a fairy tale grotto filled with tranquillity and calm. Once entering this space, I feel that all time has stood still. Suddenly, I am not filled with my shopperʼs impulse. Here I am. I have stumbled into Illuminumʼs perfumery boutique in London. Except itʼs unlike any other boutique in Mayfair: the place is a sanctuary. Before I can even step in I must remove my shoes and am given a pair of soft white slippers. The grey carpet beneath my slippered feet is thick and lush. But itʼs the walls that take my breath away – the whole room has been coated with volcanic grey ash (from Mount Vesuvius in Naples) angrily trowelled on the wall is almost primate-like and angry in its essence. But itʼs unusually soothing. This space is pure luxury: encasing and enveloping you in its womb-like privacy – a far cry from the madness outside. [...]

Jessica Cooper: “Illuminum Perfume: A Shop with No Products in Sight”, in: «Eclectic», AW15 issue, Paris, December 2015, p.160-161.

Da Nobis Hodie Incantum Quotidianum by Ana Araujo

[...] Gottfried Semper used to argue that the true function of art was not to translate reality but to destroy it; that this was the only way an artwork could be truly fulfilling. ‘Every artistic creation, every artistic pleasure, presumes a certain carnival spirit, or to express it in a modern way, the haze of carnival candles is the true atmosphere of art. The destruction of reality, of the material, is necessary if form is to emerge as a meaningful symbol, as an autonomous human creation.’ Semper’s carnivalesque spirit pervades the whole oeuvre of Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo. His Crepuscular Green gallery in Rome evokes the setting of an ancient sacrificial ritual. Egyptian? Greek? Roman? It doesn’t really matter, because once these ancestral images are deposited in our unconscious they are emptied of their historical specificity; as in our dreams, the only link that remains is the emotional one. In a similar guise, Cardillo’s MIN sculptures, inspired by the homonymous Egyptian god of fertility, gives shape to what could be regarded as a contemporary image of a talisman; a symbolic magnet, an object imbued with magical properties. Not to mention his most well-known work, House of Dust (also in Rome), an allusion to the religious settings of Duccio and to other masters of the Trecento. [...]

Ana Araujo: “Da Nobis Hodie Incantum Quotidianum”, in: «Design Exchange», no.12, London, August 2015, pp.107,109.

Being in Shape by Sophia Klinkenberg

[...] For Antonino Cardillo, who is specialized in architecture as well as interior architecture, there is a difference in his work considering the creation of a dialogue between the user and space, when compared to his early work and how he currently positions himself as an architect. One of his early works is the ‘House of Convexities’, that is part of the project where he designed ‘Seven Houses for No One’. He reflects on this work by considering the house merely as a form of self-expression in a narcissistic way. The complexity of the house shows the narrative that is more related to physical forms and the movement of the light it plays with. It is therefore also suggested to be a ‘dance’. Cardillo created a narrative space that is related considerably to the possibility of the life as it has never been built, but it is the idea behind it; ‘Architecture only remains still in pictures. In real life its natural state is one of transition. Both man and light move within it. [...] How many possible stories will this light tell over the course of a year?’ The narrative here is about the natural environment in relation to the design. The ‘dialogue with the weather-sun, wind, dust and rain – is of more interest than furniture’, as Cardillo describes his current vision in his biography. In his later work this poetical feeling between nature and architecture remained as it might even became stronger and developed it in a more anthroposophical dialogue between man and space. One of the main differences with his earlier work is that the narrative of the concept in ‘House of Convexities’ was expressed strongly in the complexity of forms, whereas with more recent apartment he designed in Rome, ‘House of Dust’, he reinvented a space with a conventional lay-out. This was done by considering the space more like an instrument to write a narrative without an extravagant typology, it becomes a scenography of a time process related to space and light. He reached this complexity by his use of textures, proportion, the relations of the different part in space, natural light and minimal use of artificial light, the experience of colours and so on. In his work he is very much inspired by human nature, cultural heritage and classical architecture as he also believes that good architecture represents the sense of the change over time. In contrast to natural light, strong artificial light creates overexposed spaces and removes the possibility to mutate space, where Cardillo links shadows and mysteries in space to create a sense of eroticism. [...]

Sophia Klinkenberg: Being in Shape | Shaping Environments, Royal Academy of Art (KABK), The Hague, May 2015.

Soluntum by Antonino Cardillo

I see references connected to the ideas of permanence and tradition. We are sons of someone who, in a past age, became dust. I do not see division between him and us. Each act of beauty is a gentle message toward death. Any act of beauty is a shard of love en route for a stranger. Any fragment of past beauty is part of our memory, giving sense to the permanence of mankind on the earth. Thus references can become testimonials of love, beyond the death. On the contrary, when references are deprived of love, when references are intended as intellectual quotations, they turn in fetishism, alienation, entertainment, aspects which trivialize the feelings of life.

Antonino Cardillo: “Soluntum”, in: Kristina Herresthal, Lisa Kadel: “Falsche Freunde, Sieben Architekten Über Ihre Arbeit Mit Referenzen”, in: Baunetzwoche, no.403, BauNetz, Berlin, March 2015, p.25.

Götterdämmerung in Rom by Jeanette Kunsmann

Letzten Sommer trafen sich Richard Wagner und Andrea Palladio in Rom – ein grandioses Gigantentreffen und zugleich der Referenzraum dieses Galerieumbaus. Crepuscular Green hat Architekt Antonino Cardillo seinen Innenausbau einer Kunstgalerie im römischen Viertel San Lorenzo genannt: eine „Grünliche Dämmerung“, angelehnt an die vier Operndramen von Rheingold bis zur Götterdämmerung. Wie aber passt Wagners Ring des Nibelungen mit dem Werk des Renaissance-Architekten zusammen? Es ist mehr als die goldgrüne Farbe an den Wänden. Ein Drama in einem Akt (Raum) – und in der Mitte schwebt ruhig der Horizont. Wenn das Rheingold nach Sonnenaufgang in der Tiefe des Rheins erstrahlt, lässt es das gesamte Riff glänzen. Mit dieser Szene beginnt Richard Wagners Oper als Teil des Gesamtwerks Ring der Nibelungen. Von eben dieser Schönheit des Naturschauspiels, das die Welt in ihrer natürlichen Ordnung zeigt, ließ sich der italienische Architekt Antonino Cardillo inspirieren. Während die Rheintöchter Wellgunde, Woglinde und Floßhilde das Gold bewachen, „dass kein Falscher dem Hort es entführe“, kann nur der, der die Liebe verflucht, aus dem Gold einen Ring erschaffen, der ihm Macht über die gesamte Welt verleiht. Rheingold ist der perfekte Auftakt für ein dreitägiges Bühnendrama. [...]

Jeanette Kunsmann: “Götterdämmerung in Rom”, in:, BauNetz, Berlin, February 24th, 2015.

Architettura di Polvere by Francesca Gottardo

Un tappeto di legno sembra come fluttuare nell’aria e, adagiandosi delicatamente su una superficie eterea color talco, come fosse un’astronave atterrata su un pianeta lontano, ci trasporta in una dimensione apparentemente fuori dal tempo, che qui sembra essersi fermato o mai trascorso, sospeso, immobile. Un senso di iniziale estraniamento pervade l’animo di chi osserva. L’occhio è confuso, la mente turbata, proiettata in uno spazio infinito, senza orizzonte, in cui tutto sembra capovolto. Cielo e terra, sopra e sotto, alto e basso, leggero e pesante, si invertono a dispetto di ogni legge di gravità e di ogni consapevole percezione dello spazio. [...]

Francesca Gottardo: “Architettura di Polvere”, in: Paolo Portoghesi: «Abitare La Terra», no.37, Rome, March 2015, p.50,52-53.

House of Dust by Nacho Alegre

Italian-born architect Antonino Cardillo believes that ‘if light is the raw material of architecture [...] light, when it encounters a solid material changing its nature and form, reverberates on other surfaces in a game of divisions until [it] decays into darkness’. This is certainly the case for Cardillo’s project House of Dust, located in Rome. And although a lot has been written about it, I was attracted to it at first glance; it instantly brought back memories of the best postmodern, neoclassical architecture that I was revisiting at the time – Bofill, Moneo, Tusquets – but with a more personal and very contemporary view. In the design for this private apartment, Cardillo used materials and colours to delineate spaces and define uses. Neutral colour tones denote public spaces, as found in the living room, while the colour pink indicates more private rooms. The living room’s neutral-coloured theme is explored through a multitude of textures: a rough-plastered ceiling, smooth grey walls that bend to form the perimeter floor, which in turn frames a carpet-like wooden floor at its centre. The bedrooms and bathrooms sit behind tall, arched doorways with pink knobs, which conceal a pale pink ceiling and walls, while a ghost-like sheet surrounds the shower area. The room’s layout, dictated by the golden ratio, together with its textured outline give the room a sense of order and proportion. Deep, recessed, tapered windows reveal the surrounding city while streaming daylight inwards, as if illuminating a cavernous space. In this space, Cardillo’s use of texture and colour, natural light, shape and proportion is exquisite and poetic.

Nacho Alegre: “House of Dust”, in: Room: Inside Contemporary Interiors, Phaidon, London, October 2014, p.64.

Decorative ceilings by Jenny Dalton

[...] Meanwhile, in a newly built project by Antonino Cardillo, for Rome-based client Massimiliano Beffa, the ceiling is at the very crux of the interior. House of Dust features a cave-like rough-plaster version that almost seems to drop down from the sky—it is purposely reminiscent of all kinds of subliminal historical references, in particular the vault of very early architecture. “I’ve always been interested in ceilings,” says Cardillo. “The vault is the place where the architecture ‘happens’. It possesses an archetypal and sacred value. It goes back to the primary meaning of architecture, which is the protection of the cave, but also to its spiritual meaning, because every ‘vault’ is also the transfiguration of the sky in stone.” Previous Cardillo projects have included a double-height vaulted ceiling studded with gold mosaic, and each one tells a story. “Decoration has a profound subversive potential,” he says. For owner Beffa, the finished effect was at first “oppressive—at the beginning I really thought that this couldn’t, shouldn’t, be my house”, he admits. However, after a while, it has become “ever more a part of it, strong and present. That first sensation of mine has completely gone. Sometimes I find myself reclining on the sofa in the evening, watching the reflections of the purplish light above, hypnotised.” [...]

Jenny Dalton: “Decorative ceilings”, in: «How To Spend It», Financial Times, London, March 2014, p.71.

Feeling through sight by Ana Araujo

[...] To conclude this discussion, I will point to some aspects of a recently completed interior design scheme by the Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo. This is a project modest in size that nonetheless illustrates well in my view how the dimension of the haptic may be integrated to architecture. The work is entitled House of Dust, and it consists of a domestic space in the centre of Rome, Italy. The intriguing title refers to the coarse texture applied to the ceiling of the living room, a rustic volume made of brownish-yellow cement mixed with aggregate, which in its materiality evokes the image of a cave or of a grotto in a picturesque garden. Dust is, of course, minuscule, and, alluding to it, the scheme relates to the miniature world of Seasons, as well as to other protuberant surfaces previously illustrated here. The ceiling of the House of Dust is haptic in the conventional sense Riegl understood this term: it communicates a strong sense of tactility; it calls for the near look, but then it blurs the vision. Dust also has a temporal dimension—the dimension of time passing, to be more precise—and this adds to this ceiling a somewhat archaic feel. Another notable feature of the House of Dust is a series of openings framed as arches: sometimes connecting the rooms, sometimes acting simply as cabinet doors. In their proportion as well as in their chromatic scale, these arches call to mind some religious paintings of the fourteenth century (Duccio and Giotto, more specifically). In their unlikely arrangement (for if they all led to different rooms those would be too small to be inhabited) the arches follow a spatial logic akin to the one of the picturesque garden. They trick your expectations; they ‘point to another world’ (to the representations in the fourteenth-century paintings, for example; Cardillo also mentions ‘Alice in the Wonderland’ as an inspiration). They are, perceptually, ‘excessive’: tenaciously repetitive; uncanny, almost. In connecting architecture to the realm of the haptic, both on a more tactile, micro scale (ceiling) and on a more visual, macro scale (arches), Cardillo’s architecture promotes the sensorial mobilisation envisioned by Benjamin as a potential force for social/political transformation. It also responds to Rilke’s call for an intensification of the senses as the only possible antidote to human suffering and violence. It is a hopeful piece that suggests that architecture still holds the power to awaken our senses and emotions for a deeper, more intimate and fulfilling engagement with the world.

Ana Araujo: “Feeling through sight: zooming in, zooming out”, in: «The Journal of Architecture», vol. 19, iss. 1, RIBA, London, January 2014, pp.14-15.

Wohnung House of Dust in Rom by Christine Schröder

In Rom hat der Architekt Antonino Cardillo für einen befreundeten Notar das „Haus aus Staub“ entworfen. Eine 100 Quadratmeter große Wohnung, in der das Zusammenspiel von Licht und Schatten eine ganz neue Bedeutung erhält. Durch unterschiedliche Oberflächenstrukturen und Materialien entstehen immer neue, reizvolle Stimmungen und dank der Anwendung des Goldenden Schnitts als ideales Teilungsverhältnis stellt sich in den Wohnräumen eine ausgewogene Harmonie von ganz alleine ein. Rom, die ewige Stadt am Tiber. Hier vereint sich die Geschichte von Antike, Mittelalter und Neuzeit mit der modernen Gegenwart und das Weltliche mit dem Christentum. Baustile wie Romanik, Renaissance, Barock und Klassizismus fanden hier ihren Ausgangspunkt. Ingenieursleistungen wie Aquädukte, die Wasser aus großen Entfernungen in die Stadt leiten, wurden hier perfektioniert. Als wichtiger Bau stein in der Architektur gilt neben der Entwicklung immer noch gültiger Stilelemente die Erfindung von Beton zur Zeit des Römischen Reiches. Auch die Grundlage unseres politischen Systems und Rechtswesens mit Bestandteilen wie Gewaltenteilung, Staatsbürgerschaft und Demokratie beruht auf römischen Vorbildern – nicht zu vergessen die lateinische Schrift, die bis heute weltweit am häufigsten verwendet wird. In diesem einflussreichen Umfeld hat sich der sizilianische Architekt Antonino Cardillo zum Entwurf einer Wohnung inspirieren lassen, in der er die Materie Staub hochleben lässt. [...]

Christine Schröder: “Wohnung House of Dust in Rom”, in: «AIT magazin», Leinfelden-Echterdingen, March 2014, pp.120,125.

Domestic Philosophy by Riya Patel

‘It invites a frugal experience of life,’ says architect Antonino Cardillo of the 1960s apartment he has refurbished for a couple in Rome. ‘A kind of escape from the glass houses that fill the pages of architectural magazines today.’ Cardillo’s House of Dust does not tick the usual boxes. In place of abundant natural light and designer furnishings are gloomy cavernous spaces characterized by a grainy ceiling of pozzolanic plaster, tinted the colour of dust. Even the furniture looks uncomfortable in this environment. But what the interior lacks in material comfort, it makes up for in ideology. Accompanied by both a poem and a short film, Cardillo’s design is a playground of classical, literary and postmodern metaphors, designed to make us question life and how we live it. From the main living room, six elongated arches hint at further spaces to explore, leading either to dead ends (cupboards) or utility spaces—the kitchen is concealed within a kind of modern priest-hole. ‘A pink glass doorknob introduces the intimate rooms, which too are distinguished by the palest pink on the walls,’ says Cardillo. ‘Alice in Wonderland and ’80s fantasy role-playing games were my influences.’

Riya Patel: “Domestic Philosophy”, in: «Frame», no.95, Amsterdam, November 2014, p.58.

House of Dust by Wallpaper* Case Studies

We first encountered Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo in 2009 when we charged him—along with 29 other young up-and-coming talents—with the task of designing his ideal home. Four years and several projects later, Cardillo has unveiled his most recent abode, entitled House of Dust. The minimalist house embraces the earthy material with a rough, plaster cast ceiling that visually divides the room using ‘the golden ratio’. Cardillo waxes lyrical ‘[I was] craving for primordial caverns, for Renaissance grotesques, for nymphaeums in Doria Pamphilj, for faintly Liberty façades in the streets off Via Veneto.’

Wallpaper* case studies app, London, September 2013.

House of Dust by Mitchell Oakley Smith

As one of the world’s most exciting architects, Antonino Cardillo draws on classical and ancient architectural forms to create spaces that feel entirely new. House of Dust, his latest residential project in Rome, reveals a yearning for primordial caverns. Architect Antonino Cardillo was not being ironic when he named his latest project—a 100 square metre apartment in Rome, Italy—House of Dust. Here, the ceiling and upper half of the rooms’ walls is covered in a raw plaster the colour of bare earth, giving the space a cavernous quality in combination with carved-out windows. It’s not a common style in contemporary design practice—indeed, the closest thing to this I can recall are the concrete bagged walls of my high school, and how hideous I always thought them—but the effect in this context is rather profound, almost sacred in its allusion to classical religious tombs. Of course, this can only be expected from Cardillo. The young Sicilian-born, Rome-based architect has built a reputation for exploring the boundaries between ancient and modern languages, fusing cultures and traditions in his designs spanning urban, residential and retail spaces. With the employment of classical techniques, Cardillo rightfully earned a place on Wallpaper magazine’s list of the top 30 architectural practices in the world, a detail confirmed by editor Tony Chambers in his statement that he is “one of the most significant architects of our time.” He may work alone—Cardillo rarely employs additional staff—but his output, both in the number of projects and their cerebral depth, is prolific, testament to his constant personal quest for information. I first came into contact with Cardillo’s work via a one-off project he created for Italian footwear label Sergio Rossi in 2010, which features in a chapter on retail architecture in my forthcoming book Art / Fashion in the 21st Century (Thames & Hudson). Commissioned by Wallpaper as part of the Salone del Mobile, Cardillo was commissioned to create a temporary men’s boutique within the brand’s permanent store in Milan. Cardillo’s design centred on the concept of superimposition, the insertion of one building into another, a recurring theme in architecture of the past. For the first incarnation of his temporary structure in the Sergio Rossi boutique, Cardillo made use of the existing store space, articulated by a grille of exposed wooden beams to create a rhythmic sequence of vertical planes suggestive of cathedral vaulting, employing light grey tones and velvet curtains in the décor. A marriage of the sacred and profane, the design was intended to disrupt the reverence with which fashion products are presented and viewed in shops. The shoes themselves were displayed sparingly on plinths, lit theatrically with downlighting, emphasising the museum-like quality of the space and bringing additional gravitas to the shopping experience. Other recent commissions have included London Design Festival and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and his work has been exhibited at the International Architecture Biennale of Rotterdam and the Artindex of St-Petersburg. Cardillo has reached a point in his career that many clients are happy to charge him with full creative direction, providing him a viable platform upon which to experiment with ideas and concepts, such as with House of Dust, created for Massimiliano Beffa, a return client Cardillo has known for over a decade. A functional brief was provided, but the architect was “totally free.” Long interested in classical architecture—my first in-person meeting with him, in Rome in 2012, included a tour of some lesser known but nonetheless remarkable historic ruins near to the Colosseum’s sprawling footprint—Cardillo aimed to create the feeling of a primordial cavern. “It’s a reference to the underground as a physical space, an anti-mainstream space of mind,” explains Cardillo. “A kind of escape from the glass houses that fill the pages of architectural magazines today.” With Rome heavy with tourists, an escape is important for its fulltime residents. The clever duality of this interior is that while it feels somewhat raw and stripped back in texture, it simultaneously has a feeling of encompassing cosiness care of the references to Renaissance-type grotesques: arches etched into timber, an ode to fourteenth century Italian painting, disguise doors and cupboards. “I attempted to include many archetypical elements, reducing them to ideas,” says Cardillo. That these elements don’t feel stuffily historic or precious is a result of the modern elements that offset the architectural framework: pink glass doorknobs are an entry to the soft pink bedrooms and bathroom, creating a separation between the shared and private spaces of the home, while a sparse amount of furniture and no hanging artwork is present. Is it liveable? “House of Dust invites a frugal experience of life,” says Cardillo, “but then life is more than these consumer objects. Life is about beauty. We deserve more than objects... the main actor in the house is the light.” Cardillo is specifically interested in not imposing a concept, but generating an emotional response from his space, and his client and his guests have the option to read into the stories the walls tell or not. “The space is cohesive but full of visible and invisible meanings, brought together by the architecture.”

Mitchell Oakley Smith: “House of Dust”, in:, Sydney, August 2013 (retrivied).

Doesnt float with the stream by Haim Capone

האדריכל האיטלקי אנטוניו קרדילו אינו הולך בתלם ומסרב להתאים עצמו לסגנונות קיימים. הדירה אותה עיצב ברומא היא יצירה של אדריכלות אינלקטואלית רבת רבדים המציגה אסתטיקה מאתגרת. האדריכל האיטלקי אנטונינו קרדילו (Antonino Cardillo) ראוי לתואר "איש הרנסנס" מכמה וכמה סיבות. הוא מחובר בטבורו לאדריכלות הקלאסית, שואב השראה אמנותית מתקופת הרנסנס, מעצב רהיטים, כותב שירים דרכם הוא מנסה להסביר את יצירותיו, ונמלט מהמודרניות כאילו היתה זו מחלה ממארת...
אבק ועפר הם הגיבורים הראשיים והמפתיעים של "בית האבק", דירה בת 100 מ"ר בלבד, לתוכה יצק האדריכל אנטונינו קרדילו את משנתו הסדורה. "בית האבק" הוא יצירה מינימליסטית פורצת דרך החותרת נגד הזרם של הקלישאות המודרניסטיות. קורדילו עצמו, המלווה את יצירותיו בשירים המנסים להבהיר אותן, כותב:
"המודרניות הזו המתכחשת למשקעי העבר,
המגלחת קירות, המחטאת חללים,
מודרניות זו המתכחשת לאבק
מתכחשת אף למוות...
היא נטולת זכרונות
ולכן סוגדת לנעורים" וכאילו אין די במילים אלו על מנת להבין את סלידתו של האדריכל מהמודרנה, הוא מוסיף עבורנו עוד פיסת מידע החיונית להבנת יצירותיו: "בבית זה הסדר הקלאסי* וחתך הזהב** חוגגים את האבק והעפר" שני מושגי יסוד באמנות, אותם קורדילו מגייס ועושה בהם שימוש נרחב.
מכל המילים המתפייטות האלו, נוצר "בית האבק" הקשור בעבותות לעבר, ועם זאת, יש בו יותר מקורט של פוסט מודרניזם. יצירתו של האדריכל אינה פשוטה להבנה, ויותר מכך, קשה להגדיר אותה או להכניסה לתבניות המקובלות והיא דורשת מאמץ אינטלקטואלי ניכר על מנת להצליח לפענח את הרעון העומד מאחוריה ואת שכבות המשמעות הרבות המצויות בה.
בכל אחד מחללי הדירה הריצפה וחלקם התחתון של הקירות זכו לגימור אפרפר בוהק, בעוד שהחלק העליון של הקירות, כמו התיקרה שמעליהם, מחופים בגבס עם טקסטורה גסה, בצבעי אדמה. הקירות מחולקים, איך לא, על פי חתך הזהב. האדריכל מרמז בעבודתו על מערות, על אלמנטים מוגזמים, גרוטסקיים לעיתים, ששורשיהם נעוצים באדריכלות הרנסנס, ומתכתב דרך צבעי האדמה הדהויים עם הצבעים המקובלים של חזיתות הבתים בויה ונטו, הרחוב הרומאי המפורסם אשר הדירה שוכנת בסמוך אליו.
כל אחד מהחלונות בדירה נמצא בתוך גומחה עמוקה שכמו נחצבה בקיר, כל אחד מהפתחים המחברים בין החללים אף הוא נמצא בגומחות עמוקות, קריצה רבת משמעות לאמנות הציור האיטלקי בתקופת הרנסנס. קרדילו אף חיזק מגמה זו על ידי יצירת סדרה של קשתות המסתירות מאחוריהן דלתות וארונות. הדלת מאחוריה נמצא החלל הפרטי המכיל את חדר השינה הראשי ואת חדר הרחצה הצמוד נושא כבר אופי אחר. ידית זכוכית ורודה על דלת הכניסה, מרמזת על הצפוי מאחוריה, תועפות של צבע ורוד בגוון בהיר המכסה את הקירות והתקרות, צבע אותו קרדילו מנמק במילים אלו: "צבע המשתוקק לפרחים ולשעת השחר, צבע של אהבה". קורדילו עיצב גם את שולחן האוכל האובלי העשוי שיש אפרפר מלוטש ובוהק, המהווה ניגוד מרתק לתקרה המחוספסת שמעליו.
"בית האבק" הינו בעיקר יצירה אמיצה, פרוייקט המגלם בתוכו אסתטיקה רעננה וחזון יחודי שאין בו דבר מוכר, או אפילו רמז לסגנון מקוטלג. זו אחת מאותן הבלחות יצירתיות, חלוציות ופורצות דרך המתוות טרנדים חדשים. בעולם גלובלי, בו האדריכלים מושפעים זה מזה ונוטים לאמץ עקרונות אסתטיים אחידים, פשוטים ומובנים לכל, כמה מרענן להתקל באדריכל החורש תלמים חדשים. קרדילו פורץ גבולות, מנתץ תבניות מוכרות ויוצק לעבודותיו אופי איניבידואלי יחודי עם שפה חדשה המבוססת על עקרונות קלאסיים.
עם כל זאת, ברור למדי ששפה אסתטית חדשה זו אינה פשוטה לעיכול ולהבנה, ואינה מיועדת לכל אחד, היא רחוקה מאוד מהמיינסטרים, עמוקה, שונה ואחרת, כדרכן של יצירות פורצות דרך.
טקסט זה יש למקם בתחתית העמוד בו מופיעות המילים עם הכוכביות:
*הסדר הקלאסי הוא סגנון אדריכלי שהחל ביוון העתיקה ואומץ על ידי האדריכלות הרומית, אדריכלות הרנסנס ועל ידי הסגנון הניאוקלאסי. הסדרים הקלאסיים הינם אוסף נוסחאות המגדירות את הפרופורציות במבנה ואת היחסים שבין חלקיו.
**חתך הזהב הוא קבוע מתמטי (1:1.618) המופיע בטבע (קונכיות, חמניות, גוף האדם וכו') ושימש בסיס לאדריכלות הקלאסית.

Haim Capone: “Doesnt float with the stream”, in: «Trend», Tel Aviv, March 2014, pp.173-180.

Haus aus Staub by Tim Berge

Durch kleine Fenster gefiltertes Licht, ausgeblichene Farben an den Wänden und eine zentimeterdicke Staubschicht unter der Decke: Ein gerade erst umgebautes Apartment in Rom sieht aus, als wäre es seit Jahren verwaist. Doch hier legte nicht der Zahn der Zeit, sondern eines der hoffnungsvollsten Architekturtalente des Landes seine Hand an—ein Spiel mit Traum und Wirklichkeit. Den jungen italienischen Architekten Antonino Cardillo zog es 2004 von Sizilien nach Rom und was seitdem geschah, klingt nach einem und ist vielleicht sogar ein Märchen: Magazine porträtierten ihn und „Wallpaper“ kürte Cardillo 2009 zu einem der dreißig wichtigsten Nachwuchs-Architekten der Welt. Die Grenze zwischen Fiktion und Realität wird in der Arbeit Cardillos verwischt: Ob ein Projekt von ihm tatsächlich realisiert wurde oder nicht, bleibt unklar—und auch die gebauten Häuser haben etwas von einer Fata Morgana, die jede Sekunde wieder verschwinden könnte. Die Wohnung in Rom gibt es aber wirklich! [...]

Tim Berge: “Haus aus Staub”, in:, BauNetz, Berlin, August 2013.

Una casa, una visione by Paolo Maria Noseda

Antonino Cardillo, siciliano, è un giovane architetto itinerante. Vivere il cyberspazio rende obsoleto possedere una sede fisica, ma richiede costante apprendimento, curioso e profondo, per combattere l'omologazione e la fossilizzazione del linguaggio. Un progetto deve essere nutrito, giorno dopo giorno, con presenza. Cardillo filtra culture e tradizioni che divengono nei suoi edifici lievi suggerimenti, interpretabili da ciascuno a seconda del proprio stato d’animo e della propria sensibilità. Un ingresso laterale svela un salone che, come una maschera greca improvvisamente indossata dal visitatore, proietta e attira l’attenzione su due finestre rastremate: un paio di occhi sul mondo. Teatro interno al teatro della vita attraverso la polvere, metafora di viaggi e terre lontane, impercettibile elemento unificante fra spazio e tempo. Goethe disse che occorre riconoscere ciò che altri possedettero prima di acquisire consapevolezza di ciò che si possiede. Ed ecco che, su un tappeto di legno che diviene palcoscenico, va in scena la vita. Costruire un ambiente domestico richiede tempo e amore. Gli altri sapranno ricomporre immagini e traduzioni che aiuteranno a liberare aspetti dell’opera altrimenti nascosti, come quando Schoenberg, preoccupato delle critiche alla sua musica, disse che la routine induce alla fallacità dell’abitudine. La bellezza preesiste dentro la mente e il cuore. Oltre la luce, occorre saper vedere nelle tenebre, come Tiresia. Eleganza, e non una sua tragica parodia. Architettura che respira luce, che trascende il tempo e che è musica, interazione e proiezione dei molti futuri che ci attendono.

Paolo Maria Noseda: “Una casa, una visione”, in: «Casamica», Corriere della Sera, Milan, June 2013, p.77.

We are mirrors of one another by Stefano Mirti e Gioia Guerzoni

This interview is the result of a long process. Beginning with two sessions of video conferencing. And continuing with a series of meetings in Venice, then finishing with various other video conferences sessions to correct, polish, explain better. The writers may be certain that even though the account was always the same, in the first two conversations they had in front of them two different people. At the appointment in Venice, a third person emerged (different from the first two). Obviously then, in the final video conferences, they had to deal with other persons who from time to time affirmed that they were Antonino. As a final disclaimer to this introductory note, the e-mail address *** confirms that the conversation that follows took place with Antonino Cardillo. [...]

Stefano Mirti, Gioia Guerzoni: “Siamo specchi l’uno dell’altro”, in: «Opere», no.32, October 2012, Florence, pp.52-56.

Hochstapler, Römische Ruinen by Susanne Beyer

Als Felix Krull jung war, dachte er lange darüber nach, ob er die Welt klein oder groß sehen solle. Seiner "Natur gemäß" habe er dann in seinem späteren Leben "die Welt für eine große und unendlich verlockende Erscheinung geachtet". Er wurde der glücklichste Hochstapler der Literaturgeschichte. Thomas Manns Roman "Die Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull" ist auch eine Persiflage auf das Künstlertum. Denn der Künstler, so dachte Mann, ist stets auch ein Aufschneider. Sein Talent - erst mal nur eine Behauptung. Felix Krull war höflich, charmant und elegant. Und, ja, auch das: wunderschön. Frauen und Männer erlagen ihm, sie genossen es, von ihm betrogen zu werden. Und wie sein Vater, der Fabrikant der Sektmarke "Loreley Extra Cuvée", lag Felix Krull gern weich, seine Welt war die der "luftigen Vorhänge" und der Türglocke, die "Freut euch des Lebens" spielte. Felix Krull ist Leichtigkeit. Doch Thomas Mann fiel es schwer, den glücklichen Krull zu erfinden. 50 Jahre arbeitete er an dem Roman, der dann unvollendet blieb. Manchmal sperrt sich die Literatur. Und manchmal ist die Wirklichkeit erfinderischer. [...]

Susanne Beyer: “Hochstapler, Römische Ruinen”, in: «Der Spiegel», no.27/2012, Hamburg, July 2nd, 2012, pp.121-123.

Questione di Fusion by Claudia Ferrauto

Ha iniziato da poco ma una cosa va detta senza esitazione: è bravo. Si chiama Antonino Cardillo, fa l’architetto e ha molto da dire, ma soprattutto da fare. Classe ’75, originario di Erice, Sicilia, si laurea cum laude all’Università di Palermo nel 2002. La sua tesi per un acquario sul porto di Trapani lo porta all’attenzione di molti. Tra i suoi sostenitori: London Design Festival, Victoria & Albert Museum, Sergio Rossi, Nomura Koumuten Corporation. Si fa le ossa con diversi lavori tra sperimentazione e nel 2009 viene selezionato tra le migliori 30 nuove promesse nell’architettura—in mezzo a profili provenienti da tutto il mondo—dalla prestigiosa rivista di architettura e design Wallpaper*. «Da lì è nata una dinamica interessante—dice sorridendo l’architetto—perché in quello stesso periodo Sergio Rossi cercava qualcuno per rinnovare lo showroom a Milano. In un modo del tutto inusuale per l’Italia Rossi contatta la stessa rivista che gli fa il mio nome. Ricordo bene lo stupore da ambo le parti, io ero alla prima esperienza su un tema del genere». La soluzione richiedeva: due mesi per completare il progetto e dieci giorni per realizzarlo. Una sfida con limiti tangibili, eppure gli viene data carta bianca. Così nasce un’occasione. Il suo linguaggio sincretico fa convergere nello showroom gli stilemi di Milano e l’impressione di essere in una dimora riservata. Un successo. Nel frattempo e prima ancora, Cardillo ha tenuto conferenze al Chelsea College of Art and Design di Londra. Le sue opere sono state esposte in svariati eventi, tra cui la quarta Biennale Internazionale di Architettura di Rotterdam, l’Artindex di San Pietroburgo e la mostra del musicista John Foxx a Londra. Romantico per natura, lavora cercando il senso dell’architettura, scrive il suo Manifesto e lo espone insieme ai suoi progetti. «L’architettura è come un libro: va saputa leggere, e va saputa scrivere. Ognuno ha i propri riferimenti, ma penso—prosegue Cardillo—che in un mondo globalizzato l’approccio della nuova architettura debba andare nella direzione di una fusione delle culture, trovando le relazioni da valorizzare, senza omologare. La ricerca in architettura si è fermata 15-20 anni fa, sedotta dal minimalismo e dall’omologazione. Invece un progetto è parte del sito che lo ospita con il suo bacino culturale, a quello va aggiunto il bagaglio dell’architetto e del fruitore dello spazio, così da arrivare ad un’estetica di confluenza di percorsi e storie». Un cortocircuito programmato che enfatizzi la cultura, insomma. «La luce—sostiene Cardillo—è, per un edificio, come l’aria che immettiamo nel nostro corpo, e gli edifici respirano luce. L’architettura è l’interpretazione che essa stessa dà della luce: così come la musica è suono, l’architettura è luce. E se la luce è la materia prima dell’architettura, il riverbero, proprio come nella musica, è l’unità di misura delle sue distanze. La luce, quando incontra la materia solida, cambiando la propria natura e forma, si trasforma secondo le altre superfici, in un gioco di divisioni, sino a decadere nell’oscurità». Antonino Cardillo ha fondato lo studio a Roma nel 2004, ma poi—grazie a una grande padronanza della tecnologia e di quasi cinque lingue—lavora spostandosi da Milano a Londra, fino ad Osaka. A marzo fa un salto anche in Brasile per aggiungere un tassello al percorso. Dove sarà mentre leggete non è importante perché basta mandargli una e-mail per raggiungerlo. Con uno stile a metà strada tra Louis Khan e Ettore Sottsass, l’autarchico Antonino lavora ai suoi progetti seguendoli uno ad uno personalmente.

Claudia Ferrauto: “Questione di Fusion”, in:, Milan, March 2012.

对抗之美—印象派建筑师 by 耿海珍

年轻而才华横溢的印象派建筑师Antonino Cardillo好用复杂的隐喻和象征性的手法,将建筑语言和雕塑般的建筑结合在一起Antonino Cardillo的建筑体块巨大,仿佛来自遥远的异乡与古国,美丽而桀骜不驯慷慨、狂热,节奏深沉而激昂,光影的瞬息万变令建筑展现着千变万化的容貌,仿佛作着灵魂最深处的展现对抗,迸发出令人震撼的美,矛盾,产生稳固的和谐。建筑结构——肢体对抗扭动的舞姿,将建筑的光影,精确地掌握及其肯定下,他的建筑仿佛是埋在石材里的弗拉明戈舞他被誉为全球伟大的天才,本时代最显著的建筑师之一。他以坚定的伦理和艺术凝聚起来研究他的建筑。他设计空间仿佛像组织音乐一样。他是一位艺术家:他的建筑是发自内心的建筑当那巨大的回旋曲线展现在眼前,它像磁石一样立刻将眼睛吸引住,这种建筑的出现是对于历史上意大利后帝国时代一种划时代的转变,改变历史的先锋者。就像一个奇幻的未来派一样,他的作品如同万神殿的巨星扎哈? 哈迪德一样有了自己的签名色彩——只是更男性化而已。
AC: 我36岁,生长于地中海中部(西西里岛),那里有热烈的阳光。我一直都非常热爱光,我的建筑是我对光的热爱的一种表达。
AC: 是的,对结构的探究就像是对灵魂的深入解析。
AC: 没错,我的作品就像是石头和光的故事。序列和空间的塑造,它讲述了我对世界的观点和看法,这是我学习的东西,我想保持某种情感,我爱的人,我见过的地方。每个建筑就像是一个化合物,其中有很多不同的能发现一种新的平衡的事情。每次就像是一个小魔术。我没有宗教信仰,我认为,任何宗教或哲学,都有其真理的片段,但相信一种方式方法对我没有太大意义。
中装:Devyani Jayakar评价您的作品是男性化的扎哈•哈迪德,请谈一下您的设计理念或文化内涵与哈迪德的区别。
AC: 我一直被前苏联先锋派所吸引。扎哈•哈迪德也受前苏联建筑的影响,也许这就是Devyani看到的我的作品同扎哈•哈迪德的相似之处。我觉得我的建筑空间显得更男性化,因为在组织建筑结构时,哈迪德相对来说采用的是非常规性的形式,我更喜欢使用简单的几何结构。结果也是复杂和动态的,但是每种形式都是微不足道的,最终双方之间的这种关系来营造复杂性。
AC: 寻找一个被定义的风格不是我工作的最终目标。我日复一日地尝试着寻找新的途径,新的表达方式的可能性,并且甚至将这种风险来质疑我自己也确定不疑表达方式,而我往往显得反复无常的。
AC: 居住在我的建筑中,需要有一种生活态度,更美学、简朴和富有诗意,更成熟的现代生活方式。所以在我的建筑里,人与自然事物如太阳、雨、风和声音的互动远比人与物体或家具更重要。我认为,现代的居所不应该仅仅是几个没有生命物体的组合。要生活在这样一幢房子里,你必须相信阳光是能够取代电视机的,某种角度来讲,居住在这样的房子里意味着回到一种原始的状态。不断变化的自然光线始终是我的建筑中的关注点。这些房子就好像是一个个星球观测站,不停地在墙上记录着天气的千变万化。如同音乐里的美学感受是通过时间的流逝获得的。天气与其变幻莫测的颜色不但渲染着房中的每一面墙,也令我们的日常生活超越了常规与重复。我喜欢把建筑如音乐类比,当一篇乐章达到一种平衡状态时,任何的画蛇添足都是多余而徒劳的。因此,我的建筑不是为循规蹈矩或喜欢享乐的人而造的,它们更适合于那些不断探索和追求的人。
AC: 也许我会尝试吧,但我并不认为是在现代建筑里。也许我的建筑是一种合成的后现代主义,而不是英国和美国从70年代到90年代建筑的分析和零散的合成。但我不确定这个说法是否正确。
AC: 我认为中国政府应该在团队参与上建立更多的信心,而不光是在建筑上,或者是在那些西方建筑师身上报太大的信心,他们经常利用中国人来通过杂志创造自己的财富,却往往把中国人给忘了,以及中国的历史和传统。

Helen Geng Haizhen: “Beautiful Confrontation”, in: «International Interior Architecture of China», Beijing, November 2011, pp.30,68.

Taking Position with Ralf F. Broekman and Olaf Winkler

Q: Antonino Cardillo, you have become known especially for projects of rather small scale. How important is this specific typology of projects for your architectural concepts and general thinking?
AC: The most revolutionary pieces of architecture of the modern age have been small buildings: a house of red brick, a pavilion made of slabs of marble, a square villa suspended on pilotis, a house on a waterfall, a deformed chapel, and a town hall at Säynätsalo. In the 60s, a grey house that seemed like a giant broken tympanum called rationalist dogmas into question. And then again in the 80s, a Canadian architect raised debate in the architectural world by dotting Los Angeles with ready-made houses. Small scale brings freedom and often small budgets offer great possibilities for experiment. For this reason, too, I design houses.
Q: The last time we talked with you, you emphasized that architecture does not have to rely on precious materials or costly furniture. Nevertheless, your works certainly reflect a specific elegance. How would you define elegance, maybe also luxury?
AC: I believe in elegance, but not luxury. I think they are two opposing visions. Elegance is the visual manifestation of a personal state of quest. Pursuing it is vain. It is just the external result of an interior elaboration. Ascetics, artists, those curious about life are elegant. Luxury is bought and sold, it is an apparent shortcut that reveals itself—to keen eyes—as a tragic parody of elegance. Luxurious architecture, therefore, is an oxymoron.
Q: The way you deal with space, the mentioned kind of elegance, the appearance of your work, underlined by the way it is presented in images, could be considered a very personal style. How important is a personal language, a signature, style—as an outcome of the way you think about architecture, but also as a means of distinction within the architecture market?
AC: In 2002, with my degree thesis “Let There Be More Light”, I experimented for the first time with the discretization of double-curved NURBS surfaces. Between 2007 and 2011 I designed seven houses of cement, travertine, and wood. Then, designing a small temporary shop for Sergio Rossi, I got to know a different, more inclusive direction. Today, designing the Postmodern Café for the Victoria and Albert Museum, I experiment with a chromaticity that is new in my works, a palette of hypersaturated colours inspired by those of computers of the 80s. I am not interested in the recognizability of my work, I think it is an artistic limitation, a problem of commercial order.
Q: You talked about the relevance of small-scale projects. How interesting would it be for you to concentrate on bigger projects, to turn to a bigger scale? Where do you see the major challenges within urban spaces, especially with regard to the concept of the European City, which is still so much connected to the image of historical Italian cities, on the one hand, and new global, social and political developments affecting city growth and limitations in city planning on the other?
AC: The city is an unpredictable organism that auto-generates over time, constructed from visible and invisible networks of signs and meanings. Architecture can influence the growth of a city, but when it goes beyond a certain dimension, when the architecture imposes a plan, the city sickens. In Tokyo and Osaka order and chaos coexist: a multiplicity of different systems stratify time and space, constructing the best possible modernity. By contrast, the new Chinese cities, even glimpsed from above, appear as ideal models of lifelessness. The architecture is a desire for order, and therefore for death. It is order even when it would appear to be disordered. Often it begins where life finishes, and beyond a certain dimension it becomes fascism.
Q: How do you judge, in this sense, the growing number of “iconographic” buildings, which also means the growing demand for individuality in architecture in general and for rather spectacular, expressive buildings in particular?
AC: Long ago, humanity celebrated the mystery of creation constructing large houses for invisible magic beings called gods. Architecture transfigured trees and stones into something grandiose and communicative. It was a universal language, like music, and in its logic the most ancient traditions were stratified. That pre-modern architecture celebrated power and was based on ignorance and the submission of the majority of human beings. In the West, with the advent of the modern era, humanity seemed to free itself from centuries-old powers and a new architecture discovered in modernity new energies and a fresh raison d’être in history. But at the endof the 80s with the fall of the USSR—the paradoxical buttress of Western democracies—something changed. For decades we have witnessed the concealed reversion of society to a pre-modern condition and architecture has recorded this mutation. Behind the proliferation of a multitude of iconic neo-modern buildings lurks a sadistic manipulation: an immense well of ideas, passions, civil wars, and ideals constantly ransacked and abused shamelessly by the media. Original meanings are altered, rewritten or erased. Thus, manipulated to the point of lobotomization, the modern becomes innocuous, an image, a cruel and grotesque mask that indistinctly celebrates dictatorship and consumerism.
Q: Do these thoughts include a reflection on the status of the architect, of architecture as a discipline as such? How do you deal with the dissolving borders of the discipline, opening up towards product design as well as other cultural disciplines, maybe also science, politics, etc.? Would you consider yourself conservative in this sense?
AC: Architecture in democracy, beyond a certain scale, should dissolve itself into collective participation. Perhaps it is not the case that cities like New York be built of invisible, anonymous architectures. When the variables, the parts, the actors and users are many, it is desirable that architecture disappears, but I believe it is just as important to reflect on whatever directions are opportune to make architecture disappear. Every time architecture gives way to the dictates of consumerism and productivity, building remains an act of imperialism, and thus anti-democratic. It would be desirable if architecture disappeared into democratic participation, into respect for places, anthropological values and the history of the landscape. And after decades, this great challenge comes back into currency today thanks to participation from the ground up made possible by social networks.
Q: In fact, you are publicly present not only through built architecture, but also through contributions to magazines, writing on architecture. How do you judge the current situation for an open exchange and public debate on architecture?
AC: There is fear within us, and that which we don’t accept in others is often a reflection of our character. Re-reading my articles of criticism, I happened to discover that in truth I was merely criticizing myself. Without the exercise of criticism, without taking a position, without conflicts—which are often also internal—there is no creation. But criticism is in the process of becoming extinct in the pages of magazines. The press celebrates the system or becomes itself the system and, in doing so, regresses into vulgar entertainment.

Ralf F. Broekman, Antonino Cardillo, Olaf Winkler: “Taking Position”, in: «build», no.5/11, Wuppertal, October 2011, pp.45,46,49,50.

Sperimentazioni di Antonino Cardillo by Massimo Locci

Molti sono i giovani architetti che, sostenuti da solidi approcci teorici e volontà di sperimentazione, definiscono interessanti soluzioni formali, talvolta con complessi e innovativi processi che, però, vengono verificati solo virtualmente grazie agli attuali strumenti di modellazione 3D. Spesso sono auto committenze, che rispondono a un programma funzionale predefinito, ma che difficilmente sono in grado di superare la verifica concreta del cantiere. Sostanzialmente su questo piano si collocano le prime esperienze progettuali di Antonino Cardillo come le due case qui presentate, Ellipse e Twelve, anche se sono due proposte immaginate per un contesto specifico e per un’utenza determinata. In questi due progetti emerge una forte sensibilità poetica che coniuga consapevolmente ricerca morfologica e dialogo con la storia, segnatamente le avanguardie del Movimento Moderno e le linee più sperimentali del contemporaneo. La sua formazione alla scuola di Antonietta Iolanda Lima è stata una buona base di partenza. Pochi sono, però, i giovani che fin dalle prime prove concrete riescono a tradurre sul piano operativo esecutivo l’articolazione spaziale e la ricchezza compositiva delle forme, senza smarrire la purezza dell’approccio teorico sperimentale. Quando si realizza tutto ciò appare quasi miracoloso, soprattutto se si rispetta la logica spietata del mercato edilizio che richiede rispetto massimo delle procedure, dei budget e delle tempistiche di esecuzione (in un caso addirittura un’opera di Antonino Cardillo è stata realizzata in soli 10 giorni). Le due case sperimentali sono utili per comprenderne l’orizzonte poetico e concettuale: il campo operativo è sintetizzabile nella individuazione di linee energetiche che agitano la composizione e lo spazio (forze centrifughe che ora proiettano piani curvi nel paesaggio, ora trasformano la continuità dell’ellisse in un nautilus aperto), nell’uso dello spazio gerarchizzato (ribassato e contratto o con vuoti a doppia altezza) nell’uso di artifici scenici con quinte contrapposte (massive e trasparenti) e travasi percettivi, nella combinazione di geometrie libere ed euclidee, nella valorizzazione degli elementi contrappuntistici. Senza alcuna caduta di tensione tutto l’apparato teorico-concettuale sperimentato nelle due case-concept si ritrova nelle due opere realizzate; anzi nella fase realizzativa si attua un processo di decantazione di segni e una sistematizzazione del metodo così efficace che il linguaggio appare chiarito e rafforzato. Scompaiono anche alcune anomalie tipologiche; condizione forse ineliminabile quando si affrontano temi morfologici ambivalenti tra la dimensione privata della residenza e quella pubblica dello spazio. Nella prima opera realizzata, la Nomura 24 House nella baia di Osaka in Giappone, Antonino Cardillo reinterpreta con sensibilità occidentale il tema della casa tradizionale giapponese, proponendo un processo di ibridazione tra le due culture dell’abitare. Attua un processo di manipolazione di componenti specialistiche, una fusione che genera una valenza identitaria; ad esempio tra il genkan, il loro tipico ingresso, e il nostro portico; tra il washitsu, la stanza con stuoie marginata da pareti scorrevoli, e il nostro soggiorno; tra la loro propensione a creare spazi raccolti con altezze contenute e una visione aperta con vani a tutta altezza e con tetto inclinato. Il fattore comune è rintracciabile nell’essenzialità delle forme e dei trattamenti, nei materiali naturali e nei dettagli essenziali. La candida morfologia sfaccettata che si incastona nella collina verde e che, con tutta evidenza, è memore dei linguaggi rarefatti del Movimento Moderno, che alla tradizione giapponese si riferiscono in modo esplicito, e della cultura mediterranea, cui Antonino è fortemente legato essendo siciliano. Per cogliere le diverse relazioni di paesaggio e di contesto l’autore si affida al “gioco sapiente” dei piani polidirezionati e dei volumi sottoposti agli effetti della luce. I valori chiaroscurali si accentuano grazie al bianco monocromatico e si esaltano nelle combinazioni-variazioni del palinsesto delle bucature. Ancora più continuità con la fase di sperimentazione teorica è riscontrabile nel progetto di interior design per il negozio monomarca a Milano. Frutto di una consultazione promossa dalla rivista «Wallpaper*», è interessante per gli esiti e per la procedura: si doveva realizzare in 60 mq un allestimento temporaneo con un budget limitato e un tempo di esecuzione ridottissimo (10 giorni). Antonino Cardillo attraverso una sorta di scenografia rovesciata è riuscito a trasformare completamente l’immagine del negozio senza stravolgerne la struttura funzionale. Ha lavorato prima per sottrazione, fino a rintracciare gli originali valori spaziali: in tal modo il soppalco ritorna a essere elemento di misura del vuoto a doppia altezza e la colonna binata riappare come un’emergenza tettonica, astratta e valorizzata come una preesistenza archeologica. Giocando sulle stratificazioni Cardillo inserisce un parallelepipedo definito da una semplice intelaiatura a balloon frame e pannellature discontinue, un pieno-vuoto che crea percezioni multiple dall’interno all’esterno e vice-versa. Il tema della casa nella casa e dello spazio interno che è esterno a se stesso ha attraversato tutta la storia dell’architettura, dal continuum romano a Ungers, passando per Alberti e Bramante. Antonino Cardillo, a tal proposito, fa riferimento a un «atto di sovrapposizione di significati all’interno di uno stesso nucleo identitario, e a un gioco di rimandi tra ordini ideali e reali». Il volume interno è contemporaneamente un luogo enucleato e reso “a misura d’uomo” grazie all’uso di arredi domestici, attrezzature e materiali non tecnologici (vecchie poltrone semplicemente rivestite, lampade di Joe Colombo riciclate, tavolini da salotto, tubi fluorescenti a vista e lampade a incandescenza); in parte è coinvolgente e reso intrigante da una potenziale valenza voyeristica urbana. Nel gioco di volute ambiguità, ribaltamenti e sconfinamenti tra interni ed esterni, l’architetto sonda le potenzialità espressive della scena teatrale, citazione resa evidente dalla grande tenda retrostante i telai che allude a un sipario. Le viste si sovrappongono, dialogando con il fondale urbano e le diverse identità del luogo: dalla medievale Chiesa del Carmine ai brani decorativi Art Nouveau.

Massimo Locci: “Sperimentazioni di Antonino Cardillo”, in: «L'Architetto Italiano», Rome, April 2011, pp.30-33.

James Stirling by Antonino Cardillo

The first time I came across the work of James Stirling was during my studies of Contemporary Architectural History. I still cherish the memory of seeing a black and white photo of the engineering department at Leicester University built in 1959. The hypnotic harmony–that was somehow out of balance–achieved by cantilevering the volumes of the building, seemed to make reference to the Club Risakov by Russian avant-garde architect Kostantin Melnikov. It gave me the impression Stirling wanted to carry on writing the truncated history of Russian avant-garde. Particularly with the engineering department at Leicester University, Stirling produced a romantic vision of the curtain walls and horizontal windows belonging to the modernist vocabulary of materials. This ability to critically combine these somehow obvious materials is a constant in his work. At a certain time on his creative path, though, Stirling swapped part of his modernist vocabulary for more historical references. This is evident in the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. I always get the impression that in this building Stirling didn’t manage to firmly control his emerging architectural vocabulary. The lack of synthesis here is also spatial. I like to think of this building as an aborted experiment–part of a creative path that was abruptly interrupted by Stirling’s sudden death. His engineering department at Leicester University, though, has a visionary power. It’s a building that’s able to communicate with any other period in history–beyond the period in which it was designed and constructed. It’s a meta-historical building. There is an intriguing similarity between Stirling’s work in Leicester and the Torre Velasca by BBPR in Milan, completed in 1958. Both projects were engaging with the idea of modular structures and interested in resolving the passage from an octagonal base to a rectangular module.

Antonino Cardillo: “James Stirling”, in: Anthony Vidler: “James Frazer Stirling: Notes from the Archive”, «Blueprint», no.299, London, February 2011, p.58.

La Promesa Consolidada by Teresa Morales

Amable (mucho) e inteligente (casi más que amable), el joven arquitecto italiano Antonino Cardillo (35) cautiva con su simple presencia. Nos vemos en un pequeño local del centro de Roma. Es guapo, sí, pero sobre todo, transmite una delicadeza especial cuando habla de arquitectura, arte y vida. “Creo que no puede haber una identidad propia si no existen las diferencias”. Con sentencias como estas, el laureado por la prestigiosa Wallpaper como uno de los 30 mejores arquitectos del mundo, lleva años escribiendo su trayectoria profesional sobre un pentagrama de valores éticos que cautivan. “La arquitectura debería unir a las personas” ¿Cómo? “El reto es sintetizar las diferencias culturales de nuestro mundo. Esto es algo que ya ha pasado en el terreno musical”. Los diseños de Antonino son espacios amplios, luminosos, repletos de armonía y modelados bajo el sello de lo estéticamente impecable, aunque él, a pesar de su inquietud por hacer una arquitectura solidaria y responsable, es firme en cuanto a las limitaciones. “Por desgracia, no creo que la belleza de por sí pueda mejorar la sociedad. De hecho, la historia nos ha enseñado que es algo muy improbable. Los nazis también escuchaban a Chopin, pero la música no los hacía mejores”. Tajante y auténtico con sus propuestas y su modo de elaborarlas, Cardillo aspira a la coherencia. “Hay quien habla de la ética de la arquitectura y muchas veces es una falacia. En Italia hay profesionales que tiene un discurso ético muy bonito y, sin embargo, sus fábricas y talleres funcionan con personal casi esclavizado que trabaja los fines de semana sin paga extra”, afirma. Cuando Cardillo traza líneas paralelas, perpendiculares y oblicuas se transforma en un poeta de la luz. “La luz es a la arquitectura lo que el sonido es a la música. El edificio en sí es un instrumento que consigue que el juego luminoso se potencie”. ¿Un creador de formas? “No, más bien soy un compositor de luces”. Entre manos tiene el encargo, ya ejecutado, de una casa en Hyogo Prefecture, Japón. Su último proyecto en Italia está relacionado con la moda: la nueva tienda en Milán de la firma italiana Sergio Rossi. Un trabajo para el que el arquitecto se inspiró tanto en las secuencias cinematográficas de algunas pelis, especialmente las de David Lynch, como en las formas de algunas iglesias medievales. El año pasado, la denominada Moon House a las afueras de Melbourne le valió el reconocimiento internacional en varias revistas de prestigio. A este, se suman otros diseños más recientes y aclamados: Twelve House, Max House a orillas de un lago en Nimes y la sorprendente House of Convexities cerca de Barcelona. Aquella casa se la encargó un músico. La idea parte del dinamismo, del ritmo y la secuencia del baile flamenco que, tal y como definió Cardillo en su momento, “en él se exploran diferentes posibilidades de movimiento con variantes rítmicas que generan una trayectoria sensual”. Sensaciones y música, dos fuentes de inspiración permanentes. “Me apasiona la música y la uso mucho como recurso en mis proyectos, igual que el cine. Ambas tienen en común el tópico de la secuencias. Creo que son más afines a la arquitectura de lo que lo son la pintura y la escultura. Además, son disciplinas artísticas más cercanas a la complejidad de la vida real. Sin duda, son el arte real de la actualidad”. Vanguardia y futuro para este apasionado de Pink Floyd, quien, sin embargo, se adhiere a lo clásico para describir algunos de sus trabajos. “Definiría la tienda de Sergio Rossi con el movimiento N 2 de la pieza Nocturne en E mayor, op. 55 de Chopin”, declara. En cuanto a los maestros, Antonino no tiene pelos en la lengua. Cuando se le pregunta por Foster, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, por ejemplo, responde: “Soane, Le Corbusier, Kahn, Michelangelo, Neumann, Schinkel, Borromini, Mies, Bernini, Moretti, Lautner Libera, Chernikov y Wright. Esos son mis maestros porque eran artistas no compañías. Prefiero los arquitectos del pasado. Los actuales, salvo algunos, son sólo negocio y marketing”. Antonino no cree en las tendencias, ni siquiera que el reconocimiento internacional de ahora podría cambiarle su vida. “Sigo viviendo en un apartamento pequeño y me muevo en scooter por Roma. La libertad no proviene de disfrutar una vida de lujos, sino de ser el dueño de tu propio tiempo”. Una afirmación significativa para un joven que huye de las tendencias y que asegura que cuanto más se estudia la historia, más se evita diseñar lo que ya existe. “Es curioso, pero cuanto más estudias, más libre y potente se vuelve la imaginación”. Habrá que seguirle la pista porque su creatividad promete construir nuevos poemas arquitectónicos absolutamente fascinantes para la vista y, sobre todo, para el alma.

Teresa Morales: “La Promesa Consolidada”, in:, Avila, January 2011.

Antonino Cardillo with Roberto Santoro

Q: Dear Antonino, the spaces you create immediately raise a particular essential impression: a sort of deep wide breath.
AC: Ten years ago I drew a plan through which I sampled for the first time dualism between fluid elements and rigid parts. I was listening to Pink Floyd’s TDSotM and I called that plan ‘Breathe’. Someone said that my spaces impose silence; others observed that my houses look like bunkers, inside of which light separates ‘the things’ of architecture, dilating them. In a certain way, light is for a building just as air that permeates our bodies: I could state architecture inhales light.
Q: What does exactly mean “to design a space”?
AC: It means to give shape to an idea. What’s in your mind is often confused. A careful and ponderous drafting is necessary to let it take shape perfectly. At the end of this process, I always find myself surprised as the result couldn’t be otherwise: as if the work was still existing somewhere and I just had to bring it to light.
Q: What kind of relations do you think exist between the function a building or a space is designed for and its future purpose, its everlasting permanence on Earth? How much do you look at its immediate dimension and how much at its eternal essence?
AC: Function is nothing but a pretext. Architecture – in the full meaning of this word – is unconstrained by contingent matters and fully able to convey values transcending the time and the day-to-day. Architecture is not fashion.
Q: The 53rd Venice Biennale featured Ulla von Brandenburg’s latest 16 mm film installation, Singspiel. She dealt with the topic of spaces not designed according to a “usage feasibility”, but to an architectural abstract aesthetic instead: unliveable spaces are cause of non-communication of the human beings living in. For this purpose, she addresses Le Corbusier’s Ville Savoye. So, do you think it is more important to define your architectural research on the ‘container’ or rather on the ‘contain’?
AC: Some time ago I was at Sarnic, a hypogee restaurant in Istanbul, obtained by a Byzantine cistern. I was so fascinated by that space and I realized a building is great when its spaces are eloquent insomuch that they can resist the changes of their primal purpose.
Q: In your opinion, has architecture a social valence or power? Can we say architecture has a social mission?
AC: Architecture is a paradox. In the past, architecture was the art of power, but, with the passing, all the blood shed to realize those great buildings seems to have been washed away. I think this essential and constitutional essence of architecture, equally constituted by violence and beauty, makes itself the most emblematic among the other arts to represent the very human nature. In my opinion, I don’t think beauty makes people good-natured and, by the way, I think art shouldn’t have any didactic purpose.
Q: You often talked about music: another essential impression I receive in looking at your buildings, is that of a space designed ‘symphonically’, rhythmically, with beats, pauses, various tones... As if a sort of rhythm defined the space.
AC: Each building I’ve designed is an attempt to transliterate music into space. When I listen to Mile Davis’ Biches Brew I often see some glares in the darkness and I say to myself: “That is architecture!”. I’m thinking of the harmonic change in Pink Floyd’s Shine on you crazy diamond, clavichord evocations of Keith Jarrett’s works, the planned potency of Kraftwerk, the restless and surreal sceneries in David Bowie’s and Brian Eno’s Low, the futurist mantra in The Beatles’ Tomorrow never knows, the syncretic structures of Caetano Veloso’s Transa, the futurist fantasy in Genesis’ Selling England by the pound, the windy and modal atmosphere of Jan Garbarek’s Dis, the gloomy sci-fi of Portishead, the ghostly minimalism of Radiohead’s Kid A.
Q: You were born in Erice, one of the most fascinating and well-preserved Middle Ages towns in Sicily, and you studied in Palermo, a city of rare beauty where historical and cultural stratifications are instead enormous and magniloquence. How present and past can/must coexist?
AC: Contamination, meant as a state of permeability to differences, acquisition and synthesis, is the ultimate purpose of my research. Living in Palermo I gained understanding of the sense of history, but in Palermo I especially breathed those possible futures which never rose up, remained on the contrary latent in stones, in the ground and in people bodies.
Q: How much clout do consciousness and knowledge of the past have in your creative process?
AC: Much clout. Re-elaboration of the past is the raw material of my research.
Q: How would you ‘label’ yourself? A modern? A contemporary?
AC: I think both of these two labels are obsolete. The word ‘modern’ is completely absorbing, demands a sort of exactness of operating which rules out any other possibility. The word ‘contemporary’ demands once more a temporal chartered placing: that of present. My ambition? I want to be a ‘continuer of stories’, especially of any possible story cut off by the violence of the history. Modernity and contemporaneity are nevertheless an essential part of my creative character building: I only try to give a relative value to what I do.
AC: Do you think that exists just one future? Or there are various possible ways?
Q: I think ‘the future’ does not exist. Various ‘futures’ do exist. ‘Futures’ are the possible developments of a given present time, still produced by the way in which the players of the present re-elaborate their own past. One hears a lot of talking about “Everything has already been invented”. I think this is a typical paradox of modernity, which gives an excessive value to novelty rather than to the very value of something: the very value becomes a minor detail. This way of execution produces a contemporaneity marked by short and ephemeral seasons made of shallow reassessments of what has already been. Thus, without a critical re-elaboration of previous experiences, one is reduced to reiterating the same ways compulsively and unconsciously. Obsession for novelty inhibits a real research and, making a severance between our past and ourselves, restrains our critical skills and reduces history to a mere tank of interchangeable stuff.
Q: What city best suits your urban and architectural idea?
AC: I’m interested in those cities where the space seems to be improvised and reinvented by a creative interaction of their inhabitants. Among those I’ve visited and loved, I recall Istanbul, Marrakech, Havana and Berlin. Now I live in Rome, also if it’s not nowadays Rome that I’m interested in.
Q: So why in Rome?
AC: Rome has a fragmentary structure, given by an extremely wide and complex historical stratification. Thus I think its urban essence is more interesting and communicative than other cities. Here’s why I live in Rome: I’d say it’s more a kind of historical-aesthetic interest.
Q: Your most foolish and unrealizable project?
AC: To build up a twenty-five floors tower of travertine marble on Tiber embankment, right in front of Richard Meier’s Museum of Ara Pacis.
Q: Architecture is art? To be an architect means to be an artist?
AC: Unfortunately there’s a serious misunderstanding about this: nowadays one only needs some skills qualifications to obtain the title of architect. In our collective imagination, it raises expectations and so, therefore, we think any architect should be an artist. I think this kind of bureaucratic title is totally nonsense. Such as a student of philosophy won’t necessarily become a philosopher, a student of architecture won’t necessarily become an architect. His works will rather display his title’s value, not just his academic skills, nor a legal qualification. Anyway, even if rarely, I firmly think architecture is art.
Q: Can we say there is an affinity between architecture and cinema? They both create a ‘space’, fictitious or real...
AC: Architecture is a process. Its transient structure lives on user’s perception. Architecture is not something bound and determinate, it is made by multi-sided possible interpretations given by a user who continuously re-invents its meaning going through and standing in it. Contrary to a paint or a sculpture, architecture has various potential levels of meaning: it’s up to the user to reveal them. I could say the same to define cinema.
Q: Which architecture among those you’ve designed up to now would you yourself prefer to live in? Why?
AC: In each of the houses I’ve designed, I’ve explored several aspects of my identity. I’ve often discovered some aspects of myself I couldn’t even have imagined. I’m not attached to one house in particular, but the research behind each of them is firmly linked to my life: my works are often portraits of the people I’ve loved.

Antonino Cardillo, Roberto Santoro: “Antonino Cardillo”, in: «Slurp!», no.8, Milan, August 2010, pp.33-34.

Values transcending time with Ralf F. Broekman and Olaf Winkler

Q: Antonino Cardillo, you were brought up and went to university in Sicily, today your office is in Rome. How important is your regional background for you? Do you see influences in your work which are specifically Italian, maybe Sicilian?
AC: When I was 17 I came across this phrase: “Italien ohne Sizilien macht gar kein Bild in der Seele: hier ist erst der Schlüssel zu allem”. Goethe wrote it on 13 April, 1787 in his Sicilian travel diary during his stay in Palermo. For years I have tried to understand the reason for such a neat yet at times surprising affirmation. I was walking in Palermo searching for a sense of all that pain, looking for the reason for that dying beauty. Unlike other cities which boast cleanliness and order, Palermo seems forcibly to demand what is the ultimate sense of time, the sense of history. In Palermo I breathed possible futures which never materialised, futures which remained on the contrary latent in stones, in the ground and in bodies. As in literature, I believe that architecture is a critical act over the reality that surrounds it and at the same time an act of interpreting history. Architecture is more than function, which is just a casual pretext that gives life to it. Definitely, the essence of architecture resides in its narrative, which structures time in space: great architecture, the city in fact, is like an endless novel, in which the personal experience of the protagonist, seen from his viewpoint, continually modifies the sense of the work of time. Aside from this human, historic and geographical dimension, architecture is destined for technological obsolescence and premature ageing. Why Rome? Perhaps for voluntary exile. To create I need silence and distance. But I would say it is more a kind of historical-aesthetic interest. I think its urban essence is more interesting and communicative than other cities because Rome has a fragmentary structure, given by an extremely wide and complex historical stratification. It could seem a paradox, but this ancient city, even if it is devoid of skyscrapers, curtain walls, exposed concrete and other fetishes of modernity, offers a story that is uniquely in line with contemporary feeling. More than any other city in the world, it reveals itself through a multiplicity of meanings presented in a disorganised and not very classical fashion.
Q: If one looks at the specific character of your architecture, most of your designs rely very much on atmospheric qualities. How do you transfer and integrate the client’s wishes into your designs? And, the other way round: Do you find it difficult to communicate the qualities of a future design to your client, while planning it?
AC: I would advise those who have—or dream of having—a large-screen television in the living room not to commission work from Antonino Cardillo. They would be disappointed with it. My architecture is for the few, that is a risk I have to run and am prepared to run. To make architecture takes special clients, but not necessarily rich ones. Architecture is the transfiguration of material and this expresses its true nature with the fewest of means. It is made not of precious stones nor fine fabrics, nor of costly furniture. I do not believe in the architecture of entertainment, my research is intimate, almost sacred and it tends to be emancipated from the dictates of fake happiness created from images and luxury goods.
Q: In your designs you work a lot with light, treating it almost like a physical material. How do you actually proceed when designing; in how far do you rely on models, material, testing surfaces – and how important is working with the computer?
AC: In 1984 four researchers at Cornell University— Goral, Battaile, Torrance and Greenberg—presented a calculation algorithm called Radiosity. This new technique for simulating light environments radically transformed the field of computer graphics, which until then was based on the Raytracing algorithm, invented in 1979 by Turner Whitted. Obviously many years went by before the respective techniques could be used on personal computers. I began to experiment with the Raytracing algorithm in 1994—in my first years at university in Palermo—and with Radiosity in 2001 during the preparation of my degree thesis. In Raytracing the simulation gives back in the image only rays directly emitted from a light source; Radiosity, on the other hand, also calculates the physical reactions of incident light on surfaces, known as radiance. In my opinion these two very diverse techniques offer interesting insights into the way in which light is considered in modern and contemporary design. The first method considers light like an operator who divides luminous areas from darkness, and since the algorithm gives shadows without detail (no radiance), the designer—in order to improve the quality of the simulated image—reduces the shadows, expanding the sources of primary light, the glass surfaces and artificial light. Therefore the “Raytracing” architect ends up believing that light in architecture is merely directed, and he mistrusts windows, which are considered as strange holes in the walls. Conversely, working with the Radiosity algorithm, we rediscover an old lesson, too often forgotten at present, that is that light, when it encounters solid material, changing its nature and form, reverberates other surfaces in turn in a game of divisions until it decays into darkness. I firmly believe that architecture is identified in light, but architecture is not manifested only in solid material illuminated, but through the interpretation which it gives of the light.
Q: In general: How do you deal with the tension between architecture as a rational discipline and the notion of the irrational, the expressive potential of a decidedly individual artist? How do you cope with the imponderability of subjectivity?
AC: In a certain sense my works themselves answer your question. Often my projects are built on the relationships between recognisable geometric elements. You won’t find many fantastic splines or arbitrarily isolated shapes. With time I have come to believe that the excess formalism which characterises much architecture today is the outcome of a frenzy—pathetic and often clumsy—towards information technology. In my work relationships between the parts develop irrational aspects, which sometimes echo memories of Suprematism and Expressionism. I am interested in demonstrating how it is possible in architecture to construct a complex creative narrative but starting from simple ingredients, recognisable and often inexpensive. It is the “already spoken” or “already seen” of architecture which interests me, one, however, that in my works finds a new, often incoherent collocation. In each of the houses I have designed, I have explored several aspects of my identity. I have often discovered some aspects of myself I couldn’t even have imagined. I like to imagine that the research behind each of them is firmly linked to my life: maybe my works are often portraits of the people I’ve loved.
Q: As a lot of your designs are private houses, what is specifically fascinating about this task?
AC: Housing has always exerted a great fascination for me. It is an ancestral theme which goes beyond a specific historical period: eating, working, reading, washing, pissing, playing, thinking, loving are all fundamental activities unchanged in human history. Thus a house at the potential stage possesses a universal, I should say archetypal, quality. Furthermore, in architecture, my first loves were Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, who developed in the 20th century the theme of the modern house starting from diametrically opposed positions. Their research has definitely oriented certain aspects of my development.
Q: How important are other cultural disciplines—music, art, films—for your work, for your understanding and development of space? Are any of these disciplines primarily influential for you, maybe important for your self-perception as an architect?
AC: Music and film have in common the topic of sequence. I believe that they are closer to architecture than painting or sculpture. Today, in the common sense, art is made of objects: paintings, installations, sculptures. But it was not always so. Before the modern era, painting and sculpture were part of architecture: a separation between them and the space of architecture was unthinkable. The idea of using art as a commodity exchange is typical of our bourgeois times. From my point of view, so called “Contemporary Art” is so boring and so elitist and I think this way of seeing things is a dead end. I believe art is in street and in this sense cinema and music are closer to life. I believe they are the real “arts” of today.
Q: How important is the term “beauty” for you? Does it exist disconnected from function, purpose, engineering structures? And, possibly relating to that: How important is timelessness of architecture vs. being adequate for the time in which it was developed?
AC: If beauty is research, then that is the ultimate end of architecture. “Gravity” is not the enemy of architecture and beauty is also structure. I want to tell you a story: some time ago I was at Sarnic, a hypogee restaurant in Istanbul derived from a Byzantine cistern. I was so fascinated by that space and I realized a building is great when its spaces are eloquent inasmuch as they can resist the changes of their primary purpose. I affirm one more time: function is a pretext. Architecture should be able to convey values transcending time and the day-to-day.

Ralf F. Broekman, Antonino Cardillo, Olaf Winkler: “Values transcending time”, in: «build», no.4/10, Wuppertal, August 2010, pp.41-43,46.

Wallpaper* and Sergio Rossi unveil an ephemeral boutique in Milan by Malaika Byng

Wallpaper* and luxury footwear brand Sergio Rossi stepped up the fashion game during the Salone del Mobile by launching an ephemeral men’s shoe boutique in Milan, designed by acclaimed Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo. The Cathedral-like configuration, housed within an existing store, is a work of art made from tulipiè wood and billowing velvet. It pays homage to the  ‘Sergio Rossi Man’, an independent, free-thinker, who is on a constant voyage of discovery. The temporary structure is akin to a theatre set within the dark void of the original store. Its linear forms, softened by the velvet curtains, echo modernist buildings, such as Milan’s Velasca Tower by BBPR. Sergio Rossi’s S/S 2010 men's collection is displayed like sculpture on tall wooden plinths. The brand’s Creative Director, Francesco Russo, has reimagined classic silhouettes and formal footwear this season, playing with proportions and creating new shapes with deconstructed uppers, flexible soles and polished finishes. Wallpaper* has worked closely with Sergio Rossi and Cardillo, acting as creative consultants and developing the design and identity for the store. Open for two seasons, the boutique is the beginning of a men’s footwear world tour for Sergio Rossi. Every stage of the journey will be marked with an equally unique architectural configuration.

Malaika Byng: “Wallpaper* and Sergio Rossi unveil an ephemeral boutique in Milan”, in:, London, April 19th, 2010.

House of Twelve with Marietta Constantinou

Born and bred in Sicily, Antonino Cardillo is a one of a kind architect. Named as one of the top 30 best new young architects of 2009 by Wallpaper Magazine and had his work published in over 50 international publications and books, his work speaks for itself. His grand and spacious creations are jaw-droopingly beautiful and modern, making him one of the youngest innovators within his field. He talks exclusively to Schön! Magazine about his newest work ‘House of Twelve’ and what makes him the architect he is today.
Q: Who are you?
AC: I am 34 years old. Certain aspects of my architecture could be defined as Mediterranean. But at the same time I should like my research not to have pre-set boundaries. I should like my research to remain permeable to the diverse cultures of the world. For me the possibility of giving a voice, through architecture, to that which has not been, to interrupted solutions, to missing or tragic endings or fragmented cultural, extraordinarily interesting.
Q: What influences the thought processes behind your design?
AC: Cinema and music are my cultural references. They are technically linked to architecture, because both are built on time. I have little interest in contemporary architecture; that of the past fascinates me more. The architecture of the past appears unstable and mutable, because evidently it is impossible to comprehend it definitively. This gap, generated by a partial knowledge, stimulates the imagination, calling on the most obscure loops of the mind, so liberating from it unexpressed potential.
Q: What do you aim to create when you design?
AC: My architecture is an attempt to interpret the most hidden and irrational wishes of the client. I do not follow a straight line to achieve that. I begin by gathering different information, I analyse the plan. I believe that the creative process is a holistic one, where apparently distant and incongruous elements find unforeseen connections and syntheses. This, I believe, is architecture.
Q: Do you create architecture for purpose or beauty?
AC: I think that in architecture the function is only a pretext. I design houses for clients who love to live their life inside contemplative spaces. But I know full well that my houses aren’t for everybody. My architectures need a different way of inhabiting the house, maybe a more evolved way of living contemporary life: more aesthetical frugal and poetic too.
Q: What do you think are the most important things in architecture?
AC: Independently of the dimensional scale, for me each element is a pretext to create relationships. The single thing In itself is not important, but rather the possibility of realising a dialogue between the parts. Often the more the ingredients of a work have a weak identity, the more interesting the final result.
Q: A lot of your structures incorporate walls of glass, creating a light airy space. Is this part of your signature style as an architect?
AC: Light mutates space, giving it voice. Sometimes it makes it sing, but most of all it makes it unpredictable, I believe that architecture is identified in light. Light is to architecture what sound is to music. The building constructed is an instrument that makes light vibrate, forming that luminous web that we call architecture.
Q: How do you unwind when you aren’t working?
AC: Listening to music, seeing old movies, walking around Rome, dreaming, meeting people, making love.
Q: How did you come up with the name ‘House of Twelve’ for your newest work?
AC: I designed this house for Australian client with roots in the Veneto. ‘House of Twelve’ is a reference to the late ancient Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The church was the model of several Basilicas of the Christian Mediterranean, but above all it was probably the model of the St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. So ‘House of Twelve’ tries to invent a fantastic response to an interrupted story, following an empirical path made by progressive mutation of ideas contemporary and late antiquity ones.

Marietta Constantinou: “House of Twelve”, in: «Schön!», no.5, London, March 2010.

Ein Haus wie ein Tanz by Judith Jenner

Wirbelnde Tellerröcke, heftige Rhythmen, klappernde Kastagnetten. Der traditionelle andalusische Flamenco hat viele Künstler inspiriert: Federico García Lorca zu Gedichten, Pablo Picasso zu Gemälden und Skulpturen—und den jungen italienischen Architekten Antonino Cardillo zu einem Haus. Es steht in der Nähe von Barcelona und ist umgeben von Feldern. „Ich wollte die Landschaft nicht mittels großer Fensterfronten ins Innere bringen und das Haus auf diese Weise visuell öffnen“, sagt Antonino Cardillo. „Trotzdem sollte es lichtdurchflutet sein.“ Denn Licht ist für Cardillo in der Architektur das, was für die Musik der Klang ist. „Es gibt dem Raum eine Stimme. Manchmal lässt es ihn singen, aber meist ist es unvorhersehbar. Die ultimative Bedeutung von Architektur ist für mich die Interpretation des Lichts.“ Im House of Convexities holte er das Sonnenlicht durch lamellenverkleidete Türen und Fenster mit einem Brise-Soleil-Sonnenschutz ins Innere. Dabei ließ es sich von der mediterranen Architektur inspirieren, die oft nicht auf den ersten Blick erahnen lässt, was sich im Inneren verbirgt. Von außen wirkt das Haus eher eckig, sein Grundriss erinnert an einen Boomerang. Doch im Inneren staunt man über eine kathedralenartige Deckenwölbung aus Eichenholz und eine ellipsenförmige eingezogene Etage, die sich wie ein breiter Turm in die Höhe schraubt. Sie senkt die Deckenhöhe über dem Essbereich des großen Wohnraums ab und verbindet optisch das Obermit dem Untergeschoss. Zwei Treppen führen in den halb geöffneten ersten Stock mit 130 Quadratmetern Fläche und zwei großzügigen Schlafzimmern, jeweils mit einem eigenen Zugang. Die Form des geräumigeren der beiden—mit einem integrierten Bad—erinnert an eine deformierte Spirale. Das kleinere—gedacht für Gäste, den Partner oder ein Kind—ist konventioneller geschnitten. „Die Räume sind nicht strikt nach Funktionen aufgeteilt, man kann die Zuteilung jederzeit ändern“, meint Cardillo. „Stattdessen folgen sie einer Logik von Raum und Formen.“ Im Inneren des Hauses beschränkte er sich im Wesentlichen auf drei Materialien: Eichenholz für das große Deckengewölbe, Travertin-Kalkstein als Bodenbelag und weißer Putz für die Wände. Bei der Einrichtung wirkte er ebenfalls mit. Er entwarf das eingebaute Regal im Ellipsen-Turm. Für das Wohnzimmer wählte er das cremefarbene Sofa „Tufty-Time“ von Patricia Urquiola für B&B Italia aus und den „Ball Chair“ von Eero Aarnio, der hervorragend mit den geschwungenen Formen der Architektur korrespondiert. Im Esszimmer findet sich ebenfalls ein klassisches Design-Ensemble: hellgrüne Verner-Panton-Chairs um einen ovalen Eero-Saarinen- Tisch. „Wichtiger als das Einzelstück ist der Dialog, in den die Möbel mit der Architektur treten sollen“, sagt der Architekt. Antonino Cardillo ist 34 und sieht extrem gut aus, wie ein Dress- man. Er gewann viele Preise für Nachwuchsarchitekten und seine Werke tauchen in Architekturbänden auf. Sein Büro befindet sich seit fünf Jahren in der Altstadt von Rom. Die historische Umgebung beeinflusst seine Arbeit. Ohne die Erinnerung und ein ausgeprägtes Geschichtsbewusstsein, so glaubt er, sind keine guten neuzeitlichen Entwürfe möglich. „Eine große Herausforderung wäre es für mich, ein Stück moderner Architektur für diese Altstadt zu entwerfen“, sagt der gebürtige Sizilianer. „Es würde sicherlich anders aussehen als Richard Meiers Ara Pacis. Rom verdient etwas Profunderes.“ Ist es ein Zufall, dass er das House of Convexities in Spanien baute? „Mir erscheinen die Spanier momentan offener für moderne Architektur als die Italiener, was vielleicht an der kulturellen Leere liegt, die durch 40 Jahre der Diktatur entstand. Sie ist immer noch eine Warnung. Ich denke, dass wir diese tragische Situation heute in Italien erneut durchleben, wenn auch in einer anderen Form.“ Cardillo studierte Architektur an der Universität von Palermo. Großen Einfluss auf seine Arbeit hat seine Professorin Antonietta Iolanda Lima. Als Student begeisterte er sich für Frank Lloyd Wrights Architektur. „Ich bin fasziniert von Entwürfen für private Häuser. Meiner Meinung nach kann man danach die Leistung eines Architekten beurteilen.“ So gehören die Arbeiten von Frank Gehry in Los Angeles aus den Achtzigern, wie etwa das Schnabel House, zu seinen Lieblingsbauten. Über den Bauherrn des House of Convexities möchte er nichts preisgeben, nur so viel, dass er Komponist ist—mit einem sehr großen Interesse an mediterraner Musik. Musik und Kino sind für Cardillo die Künste, die den stärksten Einfluss auf seine Häuser haben. Aber auch alle anderen Dinge, die ihn zur Zeit des Entwurfs beschäftigen: seine Reisen, seine Beziehungen, seine Emotionen. Von daher ließe sich kein Entwurf an einem anderen Ort und zu einer anderen Zeit reproduzieren. Cardillo improvisiert selbst gerne am Klavier und Synthesizer, „aber ich kann nichts nachspielen“, sagt er. In Melbourne gestaltete er ein Privathaus zu den Ambient-House- Klängen von John Foxx. Die ersten Ideen zum House of Convexities kamen ihm in Havanna, einer musikalisch pulsierenden Stadt. Auf dem Weg zurück nach Europa entstand die gedankliche Verbindung zum Flamenco, dem spanischen Nationaltanz. „Wenn Architektur Musik in Stein ist, können ihre Glieder tanzen?“, fragt Cardillo poetisch. Betrachtet man das Spiel von Licht und Schatten im House of Convexities, dann ist man davon überzeugt.

Judith Jenner: “Ein Haus wie ein Tanz”, in: «H.O.M.E.», no.2/10, Berlin, February 2010, pp.126,128,130.

Poetry of Space by Ridhi Kale

At some point, architecture is like poetry: both require you to wander through space to appreciate it. So, if Homer had his Iliad and Odyssey, Rome based architect Antonino Cardillo has the homes he builds across the globe, interpreting his clients’ “most hidden and irrational wishes”. How else do you explain a house inspired by the flamenco, another by a boat, the moon or an eclipse? “For me, architecture is not just a cut and dried process that’s limited to designing a layout according to the client’s brief,” says Cardillo, who is feted the world over for his unusual and original approach to construction. “It has to be a completely personal experience for me. Which is why I like to get the look and feel of the location for myself. I begin by gathering various kinds of information. From the history and geography of the site to the music, cinema and literature of the region, every small thing about the area is of interest to me,” he says, and goes on to explain his behaviour. “The creative process is a holistic one, where seemingly incongruous elements find unforeseen connections and synthesis.” This architect does not believe in using over-the-top materials; instead he builds his homes from travertine (a terrestrial sedimentary rock), concrete and wood. “These traditional materials are derived from the architecture of the ancient Romans,” says Cardillo, adding, “Often in contemporary design, the lack of thoughtful architecture and innovation is cleverly camouflaged by the use of stunning materials.” Here’s a look at three projects—in Italy, France and Spain—that best showcase Cardillo’s design philosophy.
Vaulted House: This 3,982 sq ft property in Parma, Italy, was born out of Cardillo’s trip to Marrakesh, Morocco, where he was fascinated by the 19th century Bahia Palace. The layout of the palace was rectangular with twin fireplaces at the shorter ends. “I reinterpreted this in the Vaulted House. But as a bit of a quirk, I added an incongruous element—a big barrel vault, inspired by the architecture of the late Roman Empire,” he says. The three zones of working, living and resting are represented in sequence along an axis by juxtaposed edifices whose shapes are recognisable from outside—a trapezoidal polyhedron, a large rectangular hall and a tower articulated on two levels. On the inside, openings and pathways weave a dialogue between the cavities. “I have treated this as a multi-functional space. As of now, it is a home but tomorrow, it could be developed for any other use—a restaurant, exhibition space, congress hall. I feel that each construction should have the ability to adapt and evolve in order to stay in tune with the times,” says Cardillo.
Max’s House: From the way it seems to float on a lake, you could easily mistake this structure for an avant garde ship. That’s because this house, set on the wooded banks of a little lake in the countryside of Nîmes, in the south of France, takes its inspiration from a luxury liner. As in a ship, the double-decker edifice has its sleeping areas on the lower level and the recreational and public areas on the higher deck. A holiday home for the owner, who likes to bring over friends and family as often as he can, the upper deck comprises a large, light-filled living room. Floor to ceiling glass windows help take in the stunning view while louvred screens shut out the strong midday sun. Outside, to the south, the teakwood patio extends till the edge of the swimming pool. To the north is a textile parabola, stretched between the two edges of the building, shading the outdoor dining area. Clearly, this is a pad where the party never ends.
House of Convexities: When a composer with an interest in Mediterranean music approached Cardillo to build his house near Barcelona, Spain, the architect took it on as a challenge. Cardillo found his inspiration for the house on the roads of Havana, the extraordinary city “where the energy of the people creates magic”. There he came under the spell of the flamenco. When he built the house, he tried to capture the movement of this energetic dance form in the play of light and shadow in the 3,875 sq ft, two-level home, which he calls the House of Convexities. True to its inspiration, the house has elegant twists and turns that create an impression of perpetual motion. The light inside keeps changing as the shifting sun filters in through the window’s blades. And each inner space, be it the curve of the walls, the arc of the roof, or the straight lines of the windows, comes alive when the light streams in. Reflecting the client’s interests, the house has a ery urban Mediterranean sensibility. “The most important thing is that the spaces aren’t built following a rigid division of functions but, rather, follow a logic of shapes and spaces,” explains Cardillo. Clearly, Cardillo’s homes are not only expertly engineered, he seems to sculpt his spaces, inside and out. Sometimes curvaceous, sometimes linear, this architect’s free-flowing designs form intricate, yet cohesive living spaces.

Ridhi Kale: “Poetry of Space”, in: «India Today Home», no.5/1, Mumbai, January 2010, pp.46-48,50,52.

Danza de Movimientos by Karina González

El ritmo acelerado y cambiante del baile flamenco inspiró al arquitecto italiano Antonino Cardillo cuando diseñó una vivienda contemporánea ubicada a las afueras de la ciudad de Barcelona, España. “La arquitectura de esta obra rinde tributo al baile flamenco, en el cual se exploran diferentes posibilidades de movimiento con variantes rítmicas que generan una trayectoria sensual. “Así, los trazos ondulantes de los espacios expresan versatilidad, pues no tienen una división rígida e inflexible que no pueda cambiarse con el paso del tiempo, sino que puede responder a diferentes funciones y lógicas”, dijo Cardillo. De acuerdo con el especialista, la casa, que mide 360 metros cuadrados, tiene un diseño extravagante, pues su fachada se compone de un volumen semielíptico de yeso y metal que se integra con discreción al paisaje campestre. La sensación de dinamismo se aprecia en la sala, la cual se proyectó a 7 metros de altura. Ahí destaca un muro en forma de espiral que envuelve el comedor. Alrededor del inmueble predomina una paleta de acabados sobrios que refleja una apariencia uniforme: roble en los techos y puertas, estuco en los muros y mármol travertino en los pisos. “La casa tiene un diseño introvertido, pues, a pesar de que su fachada es discreta, sus interiores poseen una generosa amplitud”, explicó Antonino. “Las superficies son únicas, pues en ellas predominan las convexidades, es decir, diversas curvas y giros que simulan a una bailarina mientras danza”.
Influencia de culturas. La vivienda se distribuye en dos niveles: en el primero, se encuentran las áreas públicas, como el vestíbulo y la estancia, mientras que en el segundo están dos recámaras con baño y vestidor. Entre los muebles más emblemáticos de la residencia, destacan una mesa oval de color negro diseñada por el finlandés Eero Saarinen y un conjunto de sillas “Panton” elaboradas en plástico y fibra de vidrio, así como sofás en color crema de la designer española Urquiola. “Las ventanas no tienen la función de exponer el exterior, sino de crear una fusión de cavidades luminosas e iridiscentes que bañan de luz natural todas las zonas. “Este concepto remite a la cultura mediterránea, en la que el exterior difícilmente se comunica con el interior y no manifiesta el contenido de manera explícita y directa”, mencionó Cardillo.

Karina González: “Danza de Movimientos”, in: «Reforma Entremuros», no.160, Mexico City, January 2010, pp.31,38,41.

Physical Poetry with Thomson Carpenter

Architect Antonino Cardillo’s Sicilian hometown, Erice, is watched over by the ancient temples of the Roman goddess of beauty, love and fertility, Venus Erycina. Little wonder, then, that he’s so entranced by the history of place. He tells Thomson Carpenter about his philosophies, influences and passions. “Without memory it is impossible to build a credible present,” says Antonino Cardillo, the suave and elegantly tailored Italian whose expertly engineered and free flowing residential designs are renowned for their considered aesthetic. “A serious risk for contemporary society is to repeat the recent past in a loop of banality. History is a paradigm representative of continuous interaction between mankind. I therefore believe that architecture today should act as a unifying force through which a positive connection is propagated. Ultimately, love creates the positive energy that drives the world forward and nowhere is this more apparent than in architecture. “When adverse entities not only meet but learn to love one another, new languages are born. The same principle applies to design, the most fertile of which has historically always been a violent and sexually emotional act between different cultures,” Cardillo continues. “But whereas architecture has traditionally been used to express power and wealth, in the modern era it is far more about creating a better world in which to live.” A fairly utopian view to take but one that Cardillo has managed to successfully translate nonetheless. Having trained at Palermo under Antonietta Iolanda Lima (the revered architect, critic and historian of architecture and urban studies), Cardillo has had his own practice in Rome since 2004. Specialising in architecture, interior design and urban revival, Cardillo now operates on a global scale and his distinctive schemes have won him wide acclaim for their curvaceous forms and intelligent use of natural materials. Interactions with the elements—sun, rain, wind and sound—are of more importance to Cardillo than furniture: “A contemporary house shouldn’t just be a collection of inanimate objects,” he says. Monolithic at times, sculptural at others, Cardillo’s work, while thoroughly modern, bears more than a passing affinity to the architecture of ancient Rome. It would come as no surprise if Vitruvius’ De Architectura featured high on his list of favourite reads. “Sadly, I don’t think that architecture can actually change the world in which we live but it can certainly influence it. In design, one needs to accept reality—complete with all its flaws and contradictions—and thereafter determine a way to best work around it, creating a more humane, poetic and spiritual environment.” The first to admit to being a dreamer, Cardillo concedes to inhabiting a virtual world, a parallel universe, moreover describing his fall into architecture as a chance happening. “I was 17 years old and at home in the Sicilian countryside. It was late and, amidst the warm honey-coloured hues of the afternoon sun, I spotted a small tower. Then and there I decided that I would like to build a room atop of that tower, complete with four glass walls framing the magnificent views. The next day I bought a dictionary of architecture and spent the ensuing summer reading up, with fascination, on various forms of design and the influences on it. Architecture is a place of mind.” But it wasn’t all rustic Italian stonework and the charms of antiquity. Cardillo’s perspective bares the influence of his generation, too. “In 1984, my father founded a small software house,” he recalls. “I was nine years old but I have a clear memory of those giant computers without keyboards, beige and black monitors and enormous floppy disks. That was a magical and futuristic world made of computer languages, devices and other strange things. All this stuff had an effect on my imagination. From there I started to dream of the future, but it was a future different from our present. The computer world of the ’80s was both naïve and underground, very different from today’s. I spent my early life in those landscapes made of black screens, big pixels and videogames such as Ultima IV on my Commodore 64. I still have memories of those places, as if I had really been there.” As many great architects will agree, inspiration is not always simply derived from visual edifices. “Completing my architecture studies in Palermo, I was going through a premature midlife crisis and unsure of where to turn to next,” says Cardillo. “Then one autumn evening, I discovered and fell in love with Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon album. It was the beginning of many trips into their cinematic and architectonic soundscapes. I learned much from Floydian music and through it I started to see architecture inside music.” The future, as Cardillo sees it, is as warm and inviting as that first inspiring summer’s day. “The right use of computer technology enables the architect to expand his activities from a single territory,” he says. “I intend my practice to be a flexible instrument, able to move easily in different countries, following clients and personal interests. I love travelling and I believe that discovering different cultures is the best antidote to the standardisation of language and the loss of creativity.” That sense of adventure brought him to Australia on one occasion to design a house in Melbourne, which offered its own challenges. “Usually I try to find some connection with the history of the place but I wasn’t interested in following just one direction so I got some inspiration from the Venetian origin of my client. In the end, this project gave me the opportunity to create a bridge between ancient Byzantium and contemporary Australian style. This shows my personal philosophy about architecture: a way to unite people and their different roots.”

Thomson Carpenter: “Physical Poetry”, in: «DNA magazine», no.119, Sydney, December 2009, pp.105-106.

V rytmu flamenco by Lucie Červená

Nedaleko Barcelony, hrdé metropole španělského Katalánska, stojí na volném prostranství mezi lesy zvláštní dům. Nabízí výhled na majestátní pohoří v dálce a svým odvážným řešením stírá hranice mezi dvěma zdánlivě neslučitelnými druhy umění—architekturou a tancem. House of Convexities (volně lze přeložit jako Dům plný křivek) je dvoupodlažní stavba, k jejímuž vytvoření nalezl architekt základní inspirační zdroj v tradičním španělském tanci—flamencu. Křivky, oblouky, záhyby a ohyby tu najdete doslova všude—v půdorysu stavby, na stěnách, na rozlehlém stropě. Celý dům jako by tančil. Hra s perspektivou a světlem je zde všudypřítomná. Při průchodu domem se návštěvníku nabízejí a otvírají stále nové pohledy, různící se navíc v závislosti na části dne a s tím souvisejícími změnami přirozeného osvětlení. Tančící dům. Zakřivené zdi si pohrávají se světlem, tmou, stíny a odstíny. Autor návrhu, italský architekt Antonino Cardillo, vidí ve svém domě tanečníka, tanečnici či tanec sám: smyslný a zároveň přesně provedený a dokonalý. Tajemný, zároveň však oslňující. Uzavřený, ale i otevřený řadě možností. Dům se snaží vytvářet dynamiku podobnou vnitřnímu napětí ve flamencu. Chvíli klidu a nehybné tichosti stíhá příval pohybu a vášně. Klid hladké vysoké zdi vytváří působivý protiklad sousedním dramatickým křivkám a paradoxně je tak naplňuje významem. Zdi, strop i celý dům se vlní, točí, ohýbají... Při pohledu na dům si nelze nevybavit tanečnici flamenca, která víří v rytmu hudby, točí sukněmi a prohýbá své pružné tělo. Soulad s krajinou Při vnějším pohledu ovšem zůstávají geometrická kouzla skryta uvnitř domu. Zvenčí vidíte jen zvlněné kamenné zdi a nesčetné množství rovnoběžných žaluziových latěk. Na jednom z exteriérových pohledů je navíc pozoruhodný soulad sklonu střechy s pohořím v pozadí. Místo na otevřeném prostranství bylo pro stavbu vybráno cíleně—proto, aby hru světla a stínu uvnitř stavby nenarušovaly stíny jiných venkovních objektů.
Vzdutý prostor. Bylo by však omylem domnívat se, že uvnitř domu je vše podřízeno jen estetickému účinku stavby. Vedle toho, že promyšleně vytváří estetiku dynamického prostoru, plní House of Convexities zdařile i svou hlavní praktickou funkci obytného rodinného domu. Základním požadavkem zadavatele objednávky byly dvě oddělené ložnice v horním podlaží, ke kterým by byl možný přístup dvěma různými schodišti vedoucími z hlavní haly v přízemí stavby. Ložnice jsou tedy umístěny každá v jiném cípu půdorysně nepravidelného patra domu. Manželská ložnice se nachází nad schodištěm, k němuž vás dovede originálně pojatý sedací kout: ten zahrnuje velké vejcovité křeslo a jeho prostor se doslova vzdouvá. Tvar manželské ložnice vyplývá z tvaru deformované spirály, která je z velké části spojena s přízemním obývacím prostorem klenutou střechou, zatímco v blízkosti elipsoidního tvaru se prostor tvaruje do vysoké věže. Pod manželskou ložnicí se nachází v přízemí domu jídelna. Druhá ložnice je tvarově konvenčnější a nachází se v patře té části domu, která přiléhá k hlavní hale z pravé strany. Tato ložnice je zamýšlena buď pro hosty, nebo jako budoucí dětský pokoj. Pokoje nejsou se svou současnou funkcí spjaty tak pevně, aby se v budoucnosti nedaly upravovat podle aktuálních potřeb. Tlumené tóny. Použité materiály jsou pouze tři: dubové dřevo (obrovský klenutý strop, žaluziové stěny, dveře), travertin (podlahy) a bílá štuková omítka (stěny). V prosklené elipsovité jídelně naleznete výhradně designový nábytek: černý oválný stůl od Eero Saarinena se skvěle doplňuje s bledězelenými židlemi, které navrhl Verner Panton. V samotné hale jsou pak krémové pohovky z designérské dílny Patricie Urquiolaové a tapiserie šedé barvy. Zvolené barevné odstíny místností jsou jemné a tlumené—architekt Cardillo není příznivcem sytých barev. Jeho oblíbenou barvou je bledězelená (již zmíněné židle v jídelně). V původních návrzích House of Convexities měly být stěny a podlaha domu matově bílé a strop černý a lesklý, ale nakonec se architekt přiklonil k méně kontrastní výsledné podobě.
Architektura a tanec. Antonino Cardillo se pokusil svůj dům rozpohybovat, roztančit. Ptá se: „Pokud je architektura hudbou vyjádřenou ve stavebním kameni, mohou ‚ruce a nohy‘ stavby tancovat? Architektura je nehybná jen na fotografiích. Ve skutečnosti se však pořád mění. Člověk i světlo se v jejím rámci neustále pohybují.“
Cardillův dům plný křivek opravdu tančí...

Lucie Červená: “V rytmu flamenco”, in: «Projekt», Praha, May 2009, pp.34,33,36,38.

Architecture and reverberation by Antonino Cardillo

Sometimes architecture is all the more interesting, the more invisible or concealed it is. When it is not only made up of that which can be seen and touched, but rather that which suggests and leaves the rest to the imagination. In some ways architecture is not just lived-in space but also imagined space. Inside it space is not crossed with the body alone but some of its parts become meaningful precisely because they are unknown to the body, thus becoming places of the mind, open to many readings: how else can the sense of certain unreachable places be explained? Like the dark ravine of a cathedral or as, by means of a different interpretation, for the ruins of the Villa Adriana, where the unknown is more powerful and evocative than the documented truth. Architecture fascinates when it contains in itself ‘remote places’, where the separation, rather than physical, becomes an expression of the unknown, of the unreal, in short of dreams. The distance stimulates in everyone unexpected associations that, mutating the original nature of the building via a slow sedimentation in the collective memory, determine its representation in history. If music is sound, architecture is light and the building constructed is not the work itself but the instrument which creates it. And if light is the raw material of architecture, reverberation, as in music, measures its distances. Looking at the paintings of John Soane, one understands this particular peculiarity: Soane paints light, a dusty light invading space. This light, when it encounters solid material, changing its nature and form, reverberates other surfaces in turn, in a game of divisions until it decays into darkness. But not all buildings listen to the light. Only opaque material is pushed into that iridescent luminous web that we call architecture.

Antonino Cardillo: “Architecture and reverberation”, in: «Tasarim», no.194, Istanbul, March 2009, p.91.

Wallpaper* architects directory 2009 by Johnatan Bell and Ellie Stathaki

The Brief. As if an annual sweep of the world’s most promising young architects wasn’t ambitious enough, for 2009 we’ve decided to add a new twist to the directory. Rather than simply report on the newest firms to flash onto our radar, Wallpaper* has commissioned 30 of the finest young architects to design their ideal home. The concept was to create a practical house for tomorrow; a sustainable, functional and elegant residential prototype adaptable to any plot. Here, in David Chipperfield Architects’ reconstruction of Berlin’s Neues Museum, we show how the class of 2009 rose to the challenge.
Biography And Practice. A born and bred Sicilian with a degree from the Palermo University, studying under architecture critic and historian Iolanda Lima, Antonino Cardillo set up his own office in 2004 in Rome. Hugely influenced by his professor—“I learned that in space, relations between things are more important than the things themselves”, he says—he also feels that history is one of his bigger inspirations, believing that without memory it is impossible to build for the present. Additionally he sees good architecture as an element which can unite people, rather than divide them.
The House. Inspired by large private garden fences spread across Marrakech’s dry plains, Cardillo’s residential proposal is called Lime and Limpid Green House. Exploring for his design the history of courtyard houses—from the palaces of Akhenaton, to works by Mies van der Rohe—he was challenged to define the notions of ‘external’ and ‘internal’ as well as the relationship between them. The result was a house with a large patio, which reminds the cities of the pre-modern Mediterranean.
The Future. He is currently designing a private residence in Melbourne for an Australian client. Cardillo feels that often architecture is too intimate a procedure to share and explain, so he cherry picks his clients and the projects he will work on—even though he admits that his architecture may not be right for everyone. ”In my houses the interactions with environmental events such as sun, rain, wind and sounds are more important than objects or furniture” he explains.

Johnatan Bell, Ellie Stathaki: “Wallpaper* architects directory 2009”, in: «Wallpaper*», no.125, London, August 2009, p.81.

弗拉明戈式建筑 采访、撰文_Chosen 供图_Antonino Cardillo

如果说建筑是由石头堆叠的乐章,那它是否也能翩然起舞?这个名叫House of Convexities的房子位于巴塞罗那附近郊区,以其独特的曲线结构 吸引了众多人的目光。建筑师Antonino Cardillo将其旅游的经历以及对舞蹈艺术的感知融入到建筑设计中,让看似静止的建筑由内而外散发出弗 拉明戈舞蹈的律动。
Q_你为什么要造这座房子? 它背后又有哪些故事?
A_这座房子是受一位对地中海南部音乐有着极大兴趣的作曲家的委托 而建造的。因为对音乐的热爱,他希望我能为他设计一幢富有“韵律 感”的房子。这对我来说是一种前所未有的经历,将“韵律”这种抽象 的事物融入到实体建筑中确实是个不小的难题。从平面图和照片中你可以发现,这一建筑的主题带有一种地中海的都市 韵意。两种不同形状贯穿着每一个卧室的设计。不规则的螺旋形穹顶模 糊了主卧的功能,因为这一形状在视觉上是可与楼下的客厅连为一体 的。但当我们靠近建筑中的椭圆形状区域时,空间给我们的感觉更像 置身于一座高塔。另外一个卧室设计比较传统,可以被用作客房或孩子 的房间。重要的一点是这座房子不是严格的根据功能区分(这是可以随 时间而改变的)来设计的,而是恪守着一种形状与空间的逻辑。只有这 样,当我们由底层的客厅分别从两架不同的楼梯登上建筑的上层时,才 能感受到两个完全独立的夜色空间。每一个委托人对他们的房子都有不同的想法和要求。我总是努力将这些 想法和要求从艺术的视角诠释出来。我认为,建筑的形式不能过于强调 结构的原本功能。所以我的建筑总是有在将来改变功能的可能性。今天 这座房子也许是一座私人住宅,但明天它就可以被用作很多其他用途, 如餐馆、展览空间、艺术馆等等。
A_我尝试用建筑来表现像西班牙弗拉明戈舞这样一种与众不同的文 化。但是我所感兴趣的并不是单纯地表现某一种语言或风格。我更喜欢 将它们混合并重新组装。举个例子,这一建筑的灵感来自于一次古巴哈 瓦那的旅行和一次阴差阳错地接触到弗拉明戈舞蹈的经历。
A_餐厅的椭圆区域。这个复杂的结构要由几个支柱将它支撑起来。我 利用了椭圆形周围的窗户和加固水泥墙来支撑整个顶部。
A_我所设计的建筑更适合于喜欢生活在冥想空间的人;这样的空间也 表达了我个人对历史和世界的看法。但是我很清楚我的设计并不适合所 有的人。在我的建筑里,你需要一种不同的居住态度;也许是一种更成 熟的现代生活方式,也更美学,更简朴和诗意。所以在我的建筑里人与 自然事物如太阳、雨、风和声音的互动远比人与物体或家具来得重要。在我看来,现代的居所不应该仅仅是几个没有生命物体的组合。当然,如果你热衷于追逐时尚与潮流,我的设计肯定是不适合你的。我喜欢把 建筑想象为音乐,当一篇乐章达到一种平衡状态时,任何的画蛇添足都 是多余的。
A_要生活在这样一幢房子里,你必须相信阳光是能够取代电视机的。从某种角度,居住在这样的房子里意味着回到一种原始的状态。不断变 化的自然光线始终是我的建筑中的关注点。这些房子就像一个个星球观 测站,不停地在它们的墙上记录着天气的万千变化。如同在音乐中,美 学感受是通过时间的流逝获得的。天气与其变幻莫测的颜色不但渲染着 房中的每一面墙,也使我们的日常生活超越了常规与重复。我的建筑不 是为那些喜欢循规蹈矩或喜欢享乐的人而造的,它们更适合于那些不断 探索和追求的人。

“弗拉明戈式建筑 采访、撰文_Chosen 供图_Antonino Cardillo”, in: «The Outlook Magazine» 82, Hong Kong, February 2009, p.44.

Emotional Spaces with Jakkrit Angsutti

Antonino Cardillo ... you may have been familiar with this Italian name before as few of his works have recently appeared in our pages. Now it’s time to sit back and listen to what he says. Get to know the architect who was once a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, now still fascinated by the theme of residence, and believes you can evaluate an architect from a single house. This is the energetic young architect who believes in the power of history of mankind, love, sunlight and music!
Q: Could you try to describe the type and range of architecture you design?
AC: When I was studying at university I was in love with Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. I was crazy about him. Now I’m not sure about that language any more, but I’m still fascinated by the theme of residence. From my point of view the single house is an indicator by which to evaluate an architect. For example I believe that the most inspiring works of Frank Gehry are the houses he built in Los Angeles in 1980s, and the Schnabel house is my favourite. Lastly, on a small, private scale it is possible to get rid of economic pressure which often pushes the design towards the dangerous roads of marketing.
Q: How would you sum up your design approach?
AC: I design houses for clients who love to live their life inside contemplative spaces, which express my personal point of view about history and our world. But I know full well that my houses aren’t for everybody. My architectures need a different way of inhabiting the house, maybe a more evolved way of living contemporary life: more aesthetical, frugal and poetic too. Therefore in my house the interactions with environmental events such as sun, rain, wind and sounds are more important than objects or furniture. From my point of view a contemporary house shouldn’t be a collection of several objects. But if you are a fashion victim I believe that all this will not be for you. I love to think that architecture is like music which when it is in equilibrium needs nothing more.
Q: Can you describe your design process from idea through to presentation?
AC: I believe that my architectures are born from a fusion of different fragments seen or heard in several places. They represent my personal comment or interpretation of reality. Usually, I begin to work upon a project and during the process, at an unpredictable moment, something happens in my mind and the idea comes out. It almost certainly isn’t a rational or logical process and I believe that, to be able to capture this irrational process of synthesis formed by the mind, it’s very important to stay relaxed and open. So I love to take inspiration going out of my office. I prefer to think while losing myself between ancient Roman labyrinths, analysing the sunlight that changes the spaces. Usually, the best ideas come to me when I’m breathing in a beautiful place.
Q: Which of your design projects do you like most? Why?
AC: The latest one. Currently I’m working on a House in Melbourne. Inspired by the compositions of John Foxx about reverberating soundscapes, I’m trying to create an acoustical space, where the sunlight reverberates inside it like the sound can reverberate inside a musical instrument. To do it I’m also making a fusion of several previous concepts which I elaborated for other residences of mine.
Q: What or who has influenced your work most deeply?
AC: The history of mankind. I love history and I also believe that to become an interesting architect it’s preferable to know the past well. Without memory it is impossible to build a credible present or future. The most serious risk for our present is to repeat the recent past in a loop of banality. I think that the inability to follow new directions comes from an ignorance of history.
Q: What human emotions and necessities drive your design?
AC: Love. It could seem a bit stupid or obvious, but in this highly sophisticated epoch of ours I believe that love is the real positive connection that can move the world forward. This is especially true of architecture. When diverse positions not only meet, but they love each other, then there are born new languages. Following this path I could say that the most fertile architecture of the past has always been a giant and sexually emotional act between different cultures: therefore a great architect should always be a great lover.
Q: Is your work an individual statement or a team solution?
AC: Individual. I need silence and solitude to create.
Q: How important are trends in your work?
AC: Irrelevant. I’m interested in permanent ideas.
Q: In your opinion, where is architecture today, and what is a good architecture for the world of the future?
AC: I believe that contemporary architecture tends to become mainstream. If you compare musical and architectural statements you can see the gap. Contemporary music is able to hybridize different cultures creating many original languages. Sadly this does not happen in architecture. Perhaps because architecture comes out of a vigorous economic process and money gets rid of artistic ambitions. Such contemporary projects seem increasinglydéjà vu.
Q: Is there something you’d really like to design?
AC: A contemporary architecture within ancient Rome, but it would be very different from Richard Meier’s Ara Pacis. Rome deserves more than an out of date toy.
Q: What do you think are some of the most important things in life that inspire you to do the work that you do?
AC: Sunlight. When I design I like to think of making love with the sun.
Q: If, for some reason, you could keep only 1 book, 1 movie, and 1 song, what would they be?
AC: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Manchau by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Solyaris by Andrei Tarkovsky, and Michelangelo Antonioni by Caetano Veloso.
Q: What would be your second career choice after design?
AC: Musician. Music is the twin sister of architecture, I love it and it inspires me every day, definitely more than contemporary architecture.
Q: Can you give us the definition of “Be The Best” in your personal dictionary?
AC: Having the courage to discover ourselves through others.

Jakkrit Angsutti, Antonino Cardillo: “Emotional Spaces”, in: «B.1 Magazine», vol.3, no.15-8, Bangkok, January 2009, pp.98-99.

Demanio RE Personaggi with Luca De Giuseppe

Una passione nata sin da giovane, nutrita dai paesaggi siciliani e dalle profonda curiosità di ricerca e sperimentazione: così nasce l’amore in Antonino Cardillo per l’architettura. “Accadde un tardo pomeriggio—spiega Cardillo—quando avevo diciassette anni. Vedendo in campagna un piccolo edificio per l'elettricità pensai a quanto sarebbe stato bello abitare in cima a una torre, in una stanza quadrata con quattro finestre su ciascuna parete. Il giorno dopo comprai un dizionario di architettura e passai l'estate leggendolo affascinato, come si fa con un libro che racconta di paesi lontani.”

Antonino Cardillo, Luca De Giuseppe: “Demanio RE Personaggi”, in:, Demanio Re, Milan, January 2009.

House of Convexities by Ramia Habchy

Sensual shapes and mysterious curves and corners make up this two level spectacular “House of Convexities” created by genius architect Antonino Cardillo set in Barcelona, Spain. Natural hues and earthy rhythms combine to present a voluptuously round and delicious atmosphere that provokes delight and awe where ever one’s vision may fall. The play of light within the convex walls of this “house” create a romantic aura that envelopes visitors and transports them into a world of wonder at the inspired superiority that made this beautifully shaped structure possible. For those who are yet to meet him, Architect, Antonino Cardillo is a man with a superb aptitude in transforming his knowledge and experience into fantastic monuments, breath-taking symbols of his Italian roots and innate skills. He trained for five years with Professor Iolanda Lima and contributed to her various scientific publications about the history of architecture at the University of Palermo. Since 2004 he has had an architectural practice based in Rome working in the fields of architecture, interior design, urban design and landscape architecture. He has written for the UK Blueprint magazine and has contributed several articles to the Alitalia airline magazine. He has worked with the Course of Design Set at the Rome Faculty of Architecture “Valle Giulia”. Its works have been selected for the International Exhibition Dialog 08 in St Petersburg. Most of his designs are published in several international magazines. The “House of Convexities” which we have the pleasure of portraying on our pages, is one of his most recent projects, completed in May 2008, and expanding over an area exceeding 300 square meters of graceful space designed and shaped into an eye-pleasing structure. Slanting roofs and marble floors bring elegance to the beauty of this architectural masterpiece. Geometrically shaped floor-to-ceiling windows allow for the playful entry of the Spanish sun. Minimalistic furnishings leave the gracious space free of clutter and allow for maximum enjoyment of the pure architecture. Embedded cabinets and wall decoration add character to the solid slanting walls that mimic the exterior of the house. Shaped with style and architectural finesse, the exterior resembles the lay of the land in its clever merging with its surroundings. Designed to complement and enhance the beauty of its environment, the House of Convexities is a tribute to Italian expertise amidst Spanish settings.

Ramia Habchy: “House of Convexities”, in: «Touch Decor», Beirut, October 2008, pp.57-63.

House of Convexities by Devyani Jayakar

An architect who does not wish his creations to bear the indelible design aesthetic ... one who believes that architecture has to be a chronicle of our times, to interpret and reflect today, (without either negating the past, or blindly aping its most successful creations) ... who sees himself only as a medium of that interpretation, without wanting to create a design signature. Appearing to subscribe to the refined ambiguities of self-deprecation, he takes a stand bordering on a negation of his ego. In a profession full of flamboyant empresarios, meet Italian architect Antonino Cardillo. Which is not to say, however, that his creations are not flamboyant. You can eulogise, criticise or analyse them, but you certainly can’t ignore them — they tug insistently at your sleeve, pouring commentary into your ears. Despite his self-proclaimed, apparently low-key reflection of the current times, Antonino’s architecture is instantly recognisable, for more reasons than one. Even if you have been misled by his philosophy, into imagining a characterless design vocabulary, it would take fair amount of myopia to miss out that there is nothing even marginally self-efficing about his work. But I will come to Chat paradox later. “History—not only architectural—is very important for me as an instrument to understand ourselves. I trained as an architect in Palermo University. This city was a very stimulating experience for me, because it is an extraordinary synthesis of different cultures, and in its architecture and its urbanism, you could see the different cultures which were an influence: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Norman, German, French, Spanish, Italian. It’s really an incredible situation. Now, maybe you can understand why for me an unambiguous architectural language is a paradox,” says Antonino, in an acceptance and recognition of the splendour of a generous polyphony. But while he feels privileged to stand on the shoulders of the great architects of the past, Antonino is certainly no ‘me too’ in his design sensibilities. “As you can analyse, in House of Convexities I have tried to interpret a different culture, that of Spanish flamenco dance. I’m not interested in a design signature, look or style. I’m interested rather, in trying to speak different languages and to mix several cultures with each other. For example, the concept of this design was born during a trip to Havana in Cuba, and through an inverse process I reached the Spanish Flamenco,” he explains. That architecture can combine all the creative arts, is not a new suggestion. Less frequently than it can incorporate painting and sculpture, though, it has been known to incorporate dance. Antonino suggests the very movement of dance, in the play of light and shadow in this house in Barcelona. House of Convexities is a two-level home designed with Spanish Flamenco inspires the lines of the building, playing with perspective and light throughout the user’s transition. Here Cardillo describes his concept of Flamenco y Arquitectura: “If architecture is music in stone, can its ‘limbs’ dance? Architecture only remains still in pictures. In real life, its natural state is one of transition. Both man and light move within it. Inside the house among coarse Mediterranean glades and corrugated stone walls, a slanting light, piercing though innumerable narrow repeated blades, inscribes and describes the walls with its impermanent, mutable hand. How many possible stories will this light tell over the course of a year? A curved wall plays with the light. The light bathes the wall, but reaches the moment and the place in which, going beyond the curve, it takes a tangent, deciding what will be lit and what will be dark. And this movement suggests the indefinite, mutability, and shading.” With a dramatic, sensual dance form at its core, did the client have any brief regarding the house? “The most important requirement was to have two separate night zones at the first floor, accessible from two different stairs leading from the main living space at the ground floor. As you can see in the plan and photos, this design reveals a kind of Mediterranean, urban sensibility. Each bedroom is located inside two different main shapes of the house. The shape of the master bedroom is deconstructed, following the trail of a deformed spiral, that for the large part is visually connected to the living space below by the vaulted roof, whereas near the ellipse shape, the space becomes a tall tower,” says Antonino. The other bedroom is more conventional and could become a room for guests, a partner or for children. The most important aspect is that the spaces aren’t built following a rigid division of functions that can’t be changed rather following a logic of the shapes and spaces,” he adds. The materials used are only three: oak wood for the large vault, brise-soleil wall and doors, travertine stone for floors, and white stucco for the walls. The furniture is a black Saarinen oval table with green Verner Panton chairs for dining (inside at the elliptical bow-window), cream tessile Urquiola sofas and grey tapestry for the living area. Ask him why, in a largely neutral palette, the accent colour which he favours is a pale green, and he says, “I’m fascinated by pale green because it’s an elusive colour, and it is incredible how many types of green we can distinguish. However, sometime during the creative process, I was tempted with the idea of making the walls and floor a matte white and the ceiling a glossy black. Who knows how that would have turned out? But I prefer not to use saturated colours, I believe that they are incompatible with an architectural space.” I stick my neck out, when I say that Antonino appears to lose his mental existential battle with himself. Inspite of his avowal of a design credo necessitating no ‘signature’, his work paradoxically stands apart in its use of light as a sculpturesque element. In the theatrically sculpted volumes of high vaulted roofs and large spaces which dwarf the viewer, the voluptuous curves in the asymmetrical layout, and the slow, mutable chiaroscuro of light and shadow which marks the passing of time, is perhaps where Antonino’s ‘signature’ lies. At least for the present.

Devyani Jayakar: “House of Convexities”, in: «Inside Outside», no.280, Mumbai, October 2008.

Vaulted House by Devyani Jayakar

“I have no design signature, and I don’t intend to have one either”, says Antonino who believes that the prime responsibility of architects is to interpret their own time. No design signature—that dream of all designers? “I don’t believe in languages or styles. I think that architecture should be mutable, so I don’t find any interest in creating an identity. I try to create my design through progressive hybrid versions and a synthesis of different elements in the world, which are meaningful in the current times. While doing this, my activity isn’t following a linear process,” he explains. “The design concept was born during a trip to Marrakech. I was fascinated by ‘Bahia Palace’, a residential building built at the end of the 19th century by El Haj Mohammed el Mekki, a Moroccan architect and Erkmann, a French military officer. In this palace a rectangular room has twin fireplaces on the shorter sides, and a lower cubical room in the centre of the wider side of the rectangle. So I reinterpreted this diagram, including inside an incongruous element. I’ve added a big barrel vault, an echo of the architecture of the late Roman Empire. The strangest thing about this roof is that its curvature follows the wide side of the rectangular hall (while according to the structure it should put it along the shortest side). This large hall seems a strange place: a hybrid architecture, a transfiguration of Mies’s Farnsworth house—with its flexible and continuous rectangular space—or a modern reinterpretation of a church nave with an impression of light from Soane’s renderings of the galleries of the Bank of England building. These have a wonderful aesthetic with regard to light and shadow and I tried to interpret this essence in my Vaulted House,” says Antonino. The Farnsworth house is a weightless apparition, whereas Antonino’s work has an unmistakable bulk, which does not open the house to nature to an extreme degree. When I remark that I see little resemblance between the ‘living in a glass fish tank’ appearance of Mies’ Farnworth house (except, maybe, for the fluid spaces that run into each other) and his own work, Antonino explains, that the relation with Mies’ Farnsworth house is about the possibility to create an architectural space where proportions are also made by the delicate equilibrium between the different furniture that fills that void. Here, the influence of Kahn is also unmistakable, in the combination of visually compelling spaces with drama, as the changing light transforms the sensory experience of being in the building at different times of the day and night. In Vaulted House, on the south side the position of the windows welcomes in the winter sun and, through a thick wide cement lunetta, screens the sun in summer. On the opposite side of the hall, to the north, the windows shrink towards the corners, becoming vertical. From floor to ceiling, the openings pick up the fleeting oblique light of the sun at dawn and at sunset in summer which, penetrating the room diagonally, colour the space with new meanings. Finally, moving between the large hall and the tower of the rest room, an azure light, concealing its origins, slips from above along the wooden and cemented walls of the walkways and the stairs accessing the tower, forming an iridescent stage, a picture in the quiet mobility of mutation. Antonino adds, “At last, this space is multi-functional. This possibility to change the original function, to my point of view, is very important because usually the architecture of the past never maintains its original functions. This idea came to me when I was in Istanbul, dining in a wonderful place called Sarnic. It was originally a Byzantine cistern and being in that place, an extraordinary thought about how the functions of places change in history came into my mind. Therefore I think that the forms of architecture shouldn’t be too connected to the original functions of the structure. So Vaulted House is created with the possibility to modify, in the future, its original function. Now it is a home but tomorrow it could be developed for many uses—restaurant, exhibition space, a gallery, congress hall, and so on...”. Ask Antonino what it means to him to be an architect in Italy, arguably the cradle of some of the greatest architecture in the world, and his answer is articulate, indicative of a fine thinking mind at work. “History isn’t a pool from which each of us can fish out something. The mistake of many architects, was to look at the past as a giant supermarket of different styles, seeing history only through the decoration—forgetting the true essence of architecture which is space, and the communication of ideas between different peoples,” he says. Antonino believes that in the early years of the 20th century, two different points of view developed about the genesis of the ‘modern’. Most architects, in a reaction against the architecture of the past, wanted to create a new language—forgetting the past, seeing it as a kind of old thing to put aside. But few of them, among them Le Corbusier and many years later, Louis Kahn, thought that the experience of mankind in the past is an extraordinary treasure. The great architectural spaces of the past speak to us about the dreams of the people of each era. Therefore, to live in a country like Italy and in Rome is a wonderful opportunity to study from inside a part of this process and to develop your own personal thoughts on contemporary architecture. Antonino’s signature, his ‘architectural voice,’ lies perhaps in the absolute purity and consistency of his architectural idea, the way in which he realizes spatial and structural ideals. Every physical element gets distilled to its irreducible essence. Totally uncluttered, the paraphernalia of traditional living such as pictures on walls, even personal possessions—have been virtually banished from sight. His homes are more nearly temple than dwelling, and they reward aesthetic contemplation before they fulfil domestic necessity.

Devyani Jayakar: “Vaulted House”, in: «Home Review», no.7/5, Mumbai, September 2008, pp.68,70,72.

Do mieszkania by Anna Krenz

Polozony na wzgórzu w okolicach Rzymu dom Ellipse 1501, zaprojektowany przez mlodego Antonina Cardilla, przywoluje wiele skojarzen: wieza, bunkier, muzeum. Beton i pustka w czystej formie staja sie magicznym przezyciem.
Masywna i minimalistyczna bryla domu Ellipse 1501 ukrywa w sobie zaskakujaco ekspresyjne wnetrza. Konstrukcja budynku opiera sie na dwóch warstwach scian nosnych z lekkiego betonu wylewanego na planie elipsy. W strefie pomiedzy scianami nosnymi znajduje sie lazienka, pomieszczenia gospodarcze oraz klatka schodowa, które utrzymuja cieplo w otwartej, centralnej czesci domu—hallu i salonie. Geometria elipsy scian zewnetrznych, obrócona we wnetrzach wzgledem jej najdluzszej osi, wyznacza kolejne kierunki dla pomieszczen—kuchni i pokoju goscinnego na parterze oraz otwartej sypialni na mezaninie. Betonowe sciany o miekkich lukach, poprzerywane monumentalnymi otwarciami okien, nadaja wnetrzom drapiezny charakter. Stonowana kolorystyka scian oraz brak ornamentów i elementów wyposazenia powoduja, ze swiatlo odgrywa tu istotna role zarówno jako aktywny, jak i pasywny twórca klimatu pomieszczen.
Spektakl w dzien i w nocy Przez ogromne, oszklone otwarcie w dachu promienie poludniowego slonca bezposrednio oswietlaja glówny hall. Przez mniejsze okna do wnetrz dostaje sie slonce rozproszone przez liscie drzew, tworzac zróznicowany klimat w poszczególnych czesciach domu. Zmienne nastroje w ciagu dnia tworzy wschodzace i zachodzace slonce—takze zmiennosc pogody podczas calego roku kreuje nowa wizualna rzeczywistosc. Przemijajacy czas pozostawia jednak wnetrza takimi samymi, stwarzajac tylko tymczasowe widowisko, podczas którego gra kolorów i swiatla staje sie przestrzenia sama w sobie. Budynek wydaje sie oddychac, rozrastac, jakby chcial uciec od wlasnych dramatycznych konturów. Ellipse 1501 przeistacza sie w obserwatorium swiatla, a otaczajaca go natura, niebo i góry—wydaja sie ulotnym pejzazem i jedynym zywym elementem w geometrycznym bunkrze.
Arogancki czy prózny? Mieszkancy Ellipse, ogladajac krajobraz za oknami czy igraszki promieni slonecznych uchwyconych w pustce, sami równiez staja sie eksponatami do podziwiania na tle monochromatycznych betonowych scian. Przestrzenne pomieszczenia przypominaja bowiem sale muzealne, gdzie niczego nie wolno dotknac ani przestawic. Skala i dramatyzm pomieszczen zdaja sie przerastac ich funkcje mieszkalne. Brak jakichkolwiek personalnych elementów sklania do refleksji, ze czlowiek jest tu zbedny. Konsekwentnie zaprojektowany dom wzbudza mieszane uczucia. Dla jednych to budynek o agresywnych wnetrzach, dla innych istota dynamicznego wloskiego futuryzmu z lat 20. Matt Mussey z The Cool Hunter oskarza Ellipse o arogancje i pyta, gdzie podzial sie czlowiek. Kto czulby sie dobrze w takim domu? Lunatyk z przerosnietym ego? A moze marzyciel zahipnotyzowany promieniami wschodzacego slonca?
Czy projektant chcial cos powiedziec? Antonino Cardillo, 36-letni architekt z Rzymu, w marcu 2002 roku ukonczyl studia na Uniwersytecie w Palermo. Od lat fotografuje i pisze, miedzy innymi dla Antoniette Iolandy Limy i Brunona Zeviego. W ostatnim czasie pracuje równiez jako historyk i krytyk dla „Ulisse”, magazynu linii lotniczych Alitalia. Architekture praktykowal w studio Nonis Maggiore i u Manfredi Nicolettiego, by w 2004 roku otworzyc wlasne studio architektoniczne. Patrzac na inne projekty Cardilla, stwierdzamy, ze zalozenia i rozwiazania projektu domu Ellipse 1501 sa oczywiste, wszak architekt nie od dzis bawi sie swiatlem, bryla i pustka. I najwyrazniej nie zamierza przestac. Warto sledzic jego dziela, zwlaszcza ze we Wloszech mlodzi adepci architektury, jesli juz uzyskaja dyplom po 10 latach studiów, musza stanac w szranki z dojrzalymi mistrzami, a takze znalezc wlasne miejsce w kraju, w którym wspólczesna architektura nadal konkuruje z klasyka i konserwatywna tradycja.
Czas i uzytkowanie pokaza, czy Ellipse to dom do mieszkania, podziwiania krajobrazów za oknem czy tylko do bycia w nim ogladanym. Tymczasem zdjecia wnetrz Ellipse 1501 wspaniale oglada sie na lamach kolorowego magazynu.

Anna Krenz: “Do mieszkania”, in: «Vox Design», Warsaw, February 2008, pp.55-56.

Celestial Vision by Devyani Jayakar

Utterly in command of considerable technical challenges, 32-year old architect Antonino Cardillo gives a virtuoso performance displaying great skill in this 2 level bungalow in the hills outside Rome. Magnetising the eye from the very moment you view the enormous sweeping curves in the living room, the architecture appears to be the harbinger of an epochal change in Italy’s post imperial design history. Like a futuristic fantasy, his work has the signature overtones of that icon from the pantheon of greats—Zaha Hadid—only more masculine. Jana Martin in her review of Antonino’s work in Moli View, observes, “there is something very organic, unstatic, dynamic and male about this house. The house has the swagger of a concrete bull.” Articulate about the history of architecture, Antonino himself says with supreme hubris, “Too much respect for the past is smothering the potential of Italian architecture.” Evidently, he believes we cannot constantly elaborate on forms from the past. He argues, “What we regard as ‘traditions’ have not themselves been immune to the geographical influences and external pressures of their times. What we see today is the culmination of a continued historical and geographical process.” Impassioned about modernity, he feels that it has become the dominant aesthetic category. Fixing transitory popularity with a level gaze, he continues, “In recent times the spread of the print media has stimulated the creation of many photogenic buildings, which when visited, reveal themselves as ephemeral, incapable of going beyond the enthusiasm of the moment to reach that timeless state that distinguishes the great architecture of history.” What endures when the dust settles, is in a different league. Named Ellipse because its shape is not round, but dilates into a geometric elliptical tower, this house has a double wall on its perimeter, made from progressive monolithic castings of lightweight concrete. The flooring is of large travertine tiles made opaque without any chemical products. In the internal space between the two walls, an ample interspace cleverly contains stairs to the bedroom, bathroom, boiler, storerooms and cupboard, serving the occupants of the house and contributing to stabilising the temperature of the large central hall. Jana Martin says, “The power of Cardillo’s massive curves is that they impose a watchful silence on the interior: the walls overwhelm the space instead of containing it; they don’t define it so much as cancel it out.” All around, deep excavations in the outside wall offer unexpected views of the rocks and the wood on the outside, breaking up the sky into a multitude of quadrants. Over the course of days, nights and seasons, the windows register the changing colours on the outside, welcoming in the low, warm, extended light of the sun at dawn and dusk. Thus the light of the sky makes a mutable architecture, recording the passing time. The light colours the space, and in supporting these changes, the tones in the house remain a monochromatic neutral leaning towards grey. There is no potpourri of colours and textures. Does Antonino feel reduced by the taint of utility? The design appears tangential to actual living. I confess that I am victim of a twinge of uneasiness, and ask myself whether I would be able to live in a space such as this for any length of time. Merchants of ostentation, take a backseat. In a world of minimalistic design, this house seems to demand an uncompromisingly minimal lifestyle from its occupants. It looks like it might work for people in transit. Er ... could you even empty out the contents of your pocket on a table top at night, without taking away from the integrity of its ‘look’? As a home in which the owners could want to put down roots, you wonder, what was Antonino thinking? Is the Spartan design more suited to a public space, rather than a residential one? Great architecture can communicate, move and inspire. But more than anything else, it has to be functional. However big the idea, finally you’ve got to make it work. Critic Matt Hussey says, “Is this house just a very shrewd example of how shapes and colours interact when placed next to each other? Where do all the people go?” The unrelenting stylising says this isn’t a space to be lived in. Rather, it’s a place to be seen in. In response, Antonino says, “Ellipse isn’t a conventional house. It’s made for very special people—people who believe that they can exchange the television for the celestial display. In some way, it is like a return to a primitive state. The main focus in Ellipse is on the ever-changing light of the sky. This building is made like an astral observatory in which its walls record the changing weather. Like music, this aesthetic experience is obtained by the passage of time. Weather, and its mutable colours are impressed over the curved walls, moving ordinary life beyond everyday routines. So Ellipse house isn’t for conformist or hedonistic people, but for people who are constantly searching...” Point taken. Jana Martin says with feeling, “The bigger, more “blank” and unornamented the building, the more you tend to pay attention to elements like light. And light is architecture’s dance partner. Despite the grand thickness, the obvious exercise in math and shape, the building plays with light. Ellipse 1501 functions as observatory. It makes slides of the moon. It considers the Earth’s place in the universe.” Ellipse 1501 is a dwelling in which everything is deliberately built on a massive scale, with the sky itself like an exhibit in a museum. Confronted with this virtuoso display, if you feel diminished within this house, it is in the same sense that you would feel humbled in the vastness of a cathedral, in the proximity of a greater presence. With the silent drama of the heavens themselves bearing witness, it is a house in which to think, perchance to dream...

Devyani Jayakar: “Celestial Vision”, in: «Home Review», no.6/5, Mumbai, October 2007, pp.60,62,64.

My Concrete Heart by Jana Martin

On July 5 we posted Matt Mussey of The Cool Hunter’s thoughtful piece on the Antonino Cardillo Ellipse 1501 House: “But, [...] there comes a time when we’re not quite sure. And if we don’t like it, why are we telling you about it? This new house designed by Antonino Cardillo has stumped us good and proper. Is it just another vacuous interior that looks an awful lot like a museum? Or is it a very shrewd example of how shapes and colors interact when placed next to each other?”At some point Mussey asks, “Where do all the people go?” It’s a great question. More photos on The Cool Hunter’s post reveal just how ginormous Cardillo’s house is. It appears to breathe: to swell outward and try to escape its own contours. It is a dwelling in which everything is built on a massive scale. The windows are oversized gashes, cut into walls that seem to refuse to accept the interruption. In this all-concrete interior, with its mass of aggressive, monochromatic curves and volumes, it’s hard to imagine anyone having any more presence than the meek figures used to populate scale models. An irritable but brilliant architectural photographer once quipped to me, “Architecture isn’t for people. Architecture is for architects. The people are just there to provide a sense of scale.” This was in the late ‘80s: we were photographing the PoMo vaingloriousness of a new financial building in midtown Manhattan—for a giant book of glossy photos on buildings in New York (probably to be bought by dwellers of financial buildings). “This building leaves me cold—the security guard told us as we watched the sun head to its ideal golden spot—but I like watching the sunset.” There was the contradiction. The bigger, more ‘blank’ and unornamented the building, the more you tend to pay attention to elements like light. And light is architecture’s dance partner. Back to the Italian hillside, where this private ellipse house glares out at the shy clutch of pines. “Is it arrogant? Is it vacuous?” Matt asks us. True, you’d have to be sedated or have an ego the size of Trump to be comfortable moving through all that concrete mass and tension. But you could also be an endless daydreamer and be happy here. The view of the sky and the changing light and shadow on the interior are anything but arrogant. Despite the grand thickness, the obvious exercise in math and shape, the building plays with light. It functions as observatory. It makes slides of the moon. It considers the Earth’s place in the universe. Cardillo, a 32-year-old architect from Sicily, has always played with mass and volume, and I suspect he has always been fascinated with light. His first design was for an aquarium; the fish, one might say, had little to do with it, though water’s refractory qualities must have. Is this house arrogant? I’d say it could be justifiably accused. You could argue Cardillo is just being Italian, like Berlusconi’s double-breasted suit or the penetrating hood of a Ferrari. Or like a futurist, the original version: the futurists of early 20th-century Italy, with their muscular forms and full-chested energy, are his mass-loving ancestors. Forget the fact (if you remember) that futurism had a certain affinity with fascism. Just think of the aesthetic: as with futurism, there is something very organic, unstatic, dynamic, and male about this house. The house has the swagger of a concrete bull. In the living room area, the ceiling bellies down the span of the room until it narrows into an oblong and penetrates the groove of the window. Certainly that’s intentional, as opposed to ‘meeting’ or ‘intersecting'. But the futurists rebelled against the concept of a museum, with its cherishing of the fusty past. Such nostalgia they deemed ‘pastism’, meaning an affliction of sentimentality. In that light, Mussey’s question of whether or not the Ellipse House is more a museum than a house is fascinating.

Jana Martin: “My Concrete Heart”, in:, New York, August 2007.

Ellipse 1501 by Matt Hussey

Here at The Cool Hunter, we strive to bring you the most cutting edge and inspiring pieces of design. From houses to hotels, walls to wine racks, there isn’t much we haven’t covered. All under the premise, that if we like something, then, maybe you’ll like it as well. But, there comes a time when we’re not quite sure. And if we don’t like it, why are we telling you about it? This new house designed by Antonino Cardillo has stumped us good and proper. Is it just another vacuous interior that looks an awful lot like a museum? Or is it a very shrewd example of how shapes and colours interact when placed next to each other? Built on a hillside somewhere in Italy, Cardillo has created a concrete ellipse that dilates to the east and west. It also just happens to look like a grey blob squatting on a hill. Inside you’re met with an enormous curve that sweeps across the central hall, forcing the eye to look down through the space at the brutal lines of the rest of the house. A smooth exterior hides the phantasmagoria of shapes inside. The other rooms are built around the dramatic opening. A kitchen at one end, the guest room at the other. Up a darkened circular staircase lies the mezzanine bedroom fitted out with the absolute minimal of disruption to the form of the interior. It’s all wonderfully cohesive. But at the same time, you can’t help but think, ‘where do all the people go?’ The unrelenting stylising says this isn’t a space to be lived in. Rather, it’s a place to be seen in. But at the same time, you can’t help but wonder what life must be like living here. The deep excavations in the outer wall reveal jagged pockets of the outside world at random. Outside, forests and mountains. Inside, lifeless concrete forged into geometric shapes. But the clever thing about the positioning of the windows is, it lets different types of light to fill different parts of the house. Direct sunlight beams into the main hall, while refracted light from trees outside filters into the smaller side windows. Creating instant moods inside according to the weather outside. As this is going on, the building remains in its original essence: colourless or tending to grey. A challenging house that makes you love it for its ingenuity, but hate it for its formality. Either way, we can’t decide.

Matt Hussey: “Ellipse 1501”, in:, Sydney, July 2007.

A new form of historicism by Antonino Cardillo

“[...] In the past ten years the ‘modern’ has been reinstated by fashion, design, interiors, cinema and music. It has become the dominant aesthetic category, undergoing at the same time a continuous erosion of meaning. Cannibalising it substitutes modern myths for antique ones, but the process remains false. The improper use of a very recent period risks altering the meaning of the original, creating a parallel and more acceptable history. Many people are stimulated by signs of a recent past and, not having the means to historicise them, reduce them to abstract icons, idealised and interchangeable. Have we codified new languages or are we taking signs, places and objects from recent history and continually re-elaborating them? Is this a new form of historicism? Architecture, from my point of view, is the art of building spatial events dislocated from time and changing in the light. An opera, for example, can only be understood through the paths and the journeys that someone undertakes when experiencing its entirety. Some people only look to the melody for a correct analysis of the opera. However, the melody itself tells us nothing about where and how it was placed inside a conceptual sequence. In recent decades the spread of architecture by print media has unfortunately stimulated, even in the most interesting architectural studies, the production of photogenic buildings, which, when visited, reveal themselves as ephemeral, incapable of going beyond the enthusiasm of the moment to reach that timeless state that distinguishes the great architecture of history.”

Antonino Cardillo: “Comment”, in: «Blueprint», no.256, London, July 2007, p.58.

L’Egitto, Flaubert, l’immortalità perduta di Antonino Cardillo

Secondo Cesare Brandi “L’Egitto non è un paese, è un fiume” (C. Brandi, Verde Nilo, Editori Riuniti, Roma 2001, p. ). E il fiume è un percorso che come una grande autostrada connette diversi punti geografici. L’acqua pertanto da separazione tra opposte rive diventa il luogo dello scambio e della comunicazione.
Annota Gustave Flaubert nel 1849: “L’acqua del Nilo ... trascina con sé molta terra, mi sembra quasi affaticata per tutti i paesi che ha attraversato e per il continuo mormorare il lamento monotono di non so quale stanchezza di viaggio ... da dove vengono questi flutti? Che cosa hanno visto? Questo fiume, proprio come l’Oceano, lascia che il pensiero ripercorra distanze quasi incalcolabili”. (G. Flaubert, Voyage en Égypte, ed. it. Ibis, Como – Pavia 1991, p. 36)
L’inizio di datazione del calendario gregoriano con la nascita di Gesù, ha creato nell’immaginario collettivo una cesura, confinando in una zona ‘altra’ (quasi un’altra storia) le civiltà vissute nei secoli precedenti. In quest’atto di imperio è leggibile la intenzione di mettere in ombra ciò che è stato prima. Ma in una prospettiva oggettiva la numerazione degli anni è un fatto relativo e approssimandosi alle civiltà antiche, occorrerebbe mettere in discussione questa cesura, presente anzitutto nelle nostre menti occidentali, meditando sul tempo e sul suo fluire che ignora discontinuità ed interruzioni.
L’Egitto faraonico ha una storia complessa e poliedrica. Per quanto dilata nei suoi trenta secoli di Storia è molto differente nei luoghi e nelle epoche. Pertanto è fuorviante pensare ad un’arte, ad una cultura e ad una religione egiziana. Per quanto lento, il cambiamento era costante. Più di duemila anni, ad esempio, separano la costruzione delle Piramidi di Giza dal Tempio di Iside sull’isola di Philae. Si può viaggiare in Egitto in vari modi: si può trovare rifugio in quell’Egitto ‘antico’ costruito dalle immagini e dalle storie romanzate dei documentari occidentali, che riempiendo le anse più oscure della storia lo trasfigurano in ciò che vorremmo sia stato. Un paese astratto, un icona seducente e idealizzata da consumare, che trova la sua massima sintesi commerciale nella Crociera sul Nilo. Un rito più volte celebrato dalla letteratura europea, che trae origine dalla fascinazione per la civiltà egiziana da parte dalla Francia napoleonica. Da allora artisti, poeti, intellettuali e archeologi intraprendono un viaggio che assume valore di un itinerario già tracciato, nel quale riconoscere paesaggi noti alla memoria, perché già letti, già descritti.
Tuttavia, parafrasando ciò che è stato detto da Conrad a proposito di un altro fiume, “guardare una costa mentre scivola via lungo la nave è come meditare su di un enigma” (J. Conrad, Heart of Darkness, ed. it. Einaudi, Torino 1989, p. 16). È un enigma perché l’Egitto antico, nonostante ci separi una grande distanza temporale, appare tremendamente vicino alla nostra sensibilità estetica. Come in un complesso gioco di specchi, ciò che noi chiamiamo in occidente ‘modernità’ è anche l’esito di una ricercata rielaborazione, molte volte inconscia, di questo straordinario serbatoio di visioni e contenuti chiamato ‘Oriente’.
La progressiva riscoperta ed assimilazione delle terre Orientali, dal Maghreb alla Persia, è processo attivo già nel Cinquecento, si pensi alla fascinazione del papa Sisto V per gli obelischi egizi che diventano cardini della nuova urbanistica di Roma, ma sarà la campagna militare di Napoleone a segnare la svolta decisiva. Tra Otto e Novecento i lussuosi viaggi in battello organizzati dall’agenzia britannica Thomas Cook, diventarono d’obbligo per l’alta borghesia europea. Il “Death on the Nile” di Agatha Christie, ambientato negli anni Trenta del Novecento, ne è sintomatica traccia letteraria.
Ciascuno può arrivare in Egitto con le proprie certezze: icone, immagini, romanzi sulle piramidi, i templi e il fiume. Ci si può confinare nei recinti controllati dei siti archeologici e ignorare la vita, che ci sfiora e ci aggredisce, come un brulichio di venditori insistenti – che Agatha Christie definiva con cinico disprezzo coloniale ‘mosche’ – un dilagare di edifici in mattoni e cemento intelaiato, destabilizzanti minareti con tubi fluorescenti, case in rovina, miseria.
Scrive Flaubert: “Ciò che amo dell’Oriente è questa grandezza che si ignora, e questa armonia di cose disparate. Mi ricordo un uomo che aveva al braccio sinistro un braccialetto d’argento, e all’altro una vescica. Ecco l’Oriente vero è, inizialmente, poetico.” (G. Flaubert, Correspondance, Gallimard, Coll. La Pléiade, Paris 1973, t. II, p. 283).
Ancora oggi sul Nilo è possibile leggere questa enigmatica contraddizione. Sulle rive del Fiume si agita una umanità rurale, quasi dimentica del tempo e di ciò che noi chiamiamo ‘modernità’. Appare evidente che tutto ciò non è una scelta. Ma paradossalmente è questa povertà di mezzi a restituire un paesaggio essenziale, incantato e a tratti pre-moderno.
L’Egitto di Flaubert è quello dell’Impero Ottomano ritratto con rapide annotazioni pre-impressionistiche, durante un viaggio intrapreso con il suo amico fotografo Maxime Du Camp, nel novembre 1849 e durato otto mesi. Sensazioni visive sostituiscono pensieri, riflessioni e le immagini sognate prima del viaggio: “Una canga a vela, passa in basso: ecco il vero Oriente, impressione di malinconia e sonnolenza; si intuisce qualcosa d’immenso e inesorabile in cui siete perduti.” (G. Flaubert 1991, op. cit. p. 63)
La realtà infrange le certezze acquisite sui libri prima del viaggio. Il Fiume diviene metafora del trascorre del tempo, della vita di ciascuno, della storia. La vita quotidiana deposita inesorabile i suoi sedimenti sulle sue rive, sporcando palazzi e templi, mettendone in crisi la certezza di una perpetua memoria.
Questa aspirazione all’immanenza colpisce il viaggiatore e lascia attoniti l’ossessione tutta egiziana di fermare il tempo, registrare la memoria, proiettando sulla pietra immagini di una realtà vissuta o desiderata (aldilà). Che gli egiziani ne fossero coscienti o no, indubbiamente qui nasce la storia, ossia la possibilità di alterare la verità attraverso la riscrittura degli eventi. Nella tomba di Mose, a Saqquara, un iscrizione fa riferimento al 59° anno di regno di Haremhab. Nella realtà, ricostruita dall’archeologia attraverso l’analisi scientifica dei fatti, il faraone regnò tra 1333 e il 1306 a.C. per ventisei anni. Si tratta di uno dei primi esempi di riscrittura della storia attraverso cui, estendendo a ritroso la durata del suo regno, Haremhab cancellava dalla Storia dell’Egitto quattro faraoni precedenti – Akhenaton, Semenkhkara, Tutankhamon ed Ai – perché ritenuti eretici.
La religione egizia era un culto mutevole ed inclusivo. I nuovi elementi religiosi, che venivano elaborati nel corso dei secoli, non cancellavano quelli antichi ma vi si sovrapponevano attraverso una continua rielaborazione mitologica tesa ad correlare le molteplici e differenti divinità: arcaici culti animali, culti locali, geni elementari, divinità cosmiche elaborate dalle speculazioni intellettuali dei sacerdoti. Durante la XVIII dinastia, nel periodo del Nuovo Regno, il tempio di Karnak e il suo culto di Amūn, conobbe la massima influenza sulla terra d’Egitto. Continue ingerenze, sostenute dal grande potere economico e dalla raggiunta supremazia religiosa sugli altri culti, rappresentavano una grave minaccia alla separazione tra potere religioso e civile.
Tra il 1364 e il 1347 a.C., il faraone Amenolfi IV, rinominatosi Akhenaton – colui che serve all’Aton – riuscì ad introdurre per alcuni decenni, un’inedita quanto traumatica forma di monoteismo. In pochi anni, l’Aton – immagine astratta di un disco solare da cui dipartivano raggi verso il basso terminanti con piccole mani – sostituì per intero l’antico e multiforme pantheon di divinità antropomorfe. Si riconosceva così in modo diretto e senza intercessioni il profondo legame dell’esistenza umana con il percorso celeste del Sole: “... Ogni occhio ti vede di fronte a sé, perché tu sei il Disco del giorno; ma quando tu tramonti e tutti gli occhi per i quali hai creato la vista non possono vedere te e quello che tu hai creato, tu sei ancora nel mio cuore...” (Inno dell’Aton nella tomba di Ay, cit. in F. Cimmino, Akhenaton e Nefertiti. Storia dell’eresia amarniana, Bompiani, Bologna 2002, p. 215). L’assenza di mitologie, infine, caratterizzava la nuova religione. La scoperta e lo studio sistematico della religione di Akhenaton è recente e risale alla fine dell’Ottocento. L’eresia amarniana – cosiddetta per il nome della nuova città capitale del regno Akhet-Aton, poi rinominata in arabo Tell el-Amarna – esercita ancora oggi una fascino profondo. Le fonti scritte sono scarse a causa della damnatio memoriae promulgata dai faraoni successivi che, nell’intenzione di restaurare gli antichi culti religiosi, cancellarono quanto più possibile dei segni lasciati dalla religione eretica. L’arte di quel periodo, tuttavia, ci parla inequivocabile di una rivoluzione artistica profondamente ispirata dal faraone Akhenaton: introspezione, espressione dei sentimenti, trasfigurazione della realtà fisica, esaltazione delle componenti spirituali ed intellettuali assieme ad una visione più relativa dell'essere umano, sono alcune delle istanze di questo periodo. Ciò nonostante, per il popolo l’Aton era un dio estraneo e razionale, che durante la vita era luce e calore, ma abbandonava l’uomo dopo la morte.
Le tombe egizie ci commuovono per la loro smisurata fede riposta nella scrittura e nell’immagine al fine di perpetuare, con mezzi diversi, il ricordo dei propri cari, dall’uomo più umile ai faraoni. L’idea di conservare il defunto in un ambiente ricercato, presente sin dalle prime dinastie, era un tempo privilegio del solo faraone. Straordinario esempio ne è l’antica piramide di Zoser (2668-2649 a.C.) costruita a gradoni dal capomastro Imhotep, forse il primo grande architetto di cui la storia conservi memoria. Tuttavia è verso la fine del Medio Regno che inizia il processo di democratizzazione dei defunti con l’introduzione del culto osiriaco.
Osiride era un dio buono che sulla terra aveva conosciuto il tradimento, la morte e la miseria del corpo fisico. Salvato e riportato in vita dall'amore della sposa e sorella Iside, dava agli uomini una speranza di vita eterna. Era una leggenda umanissima che offriva al popolo la speranza in un aldilà, immagine speculare del mondo dei vivi sulla terra.
A Tebe, nella Valle dei Re e delle Regine, le tombe raccontano vite antiche. Come libri scavati nella terra, costruiscono sequenze articolate di spazi ipogei i cui muri diventano pagine. Lunghi impaginati, straordinari impaginati, dove la scrittura si confonde con le figure ed il percorso dello spazio identifica la struttura del racconto, realizzando un’inedita identità tra narrazione sulle pareti e sequenza degli spazi: ogni ‘stanza’ è come un capitolo di un libro. Racconto e spazio pertanto coincidono e l’uno dà all’altro la ragion d’essere, realizzando probabilmente la più antica sintesi artistica tra pittura e architettura.
Queste epoche remote ci parlano di quanto siano relative le cose dell’uomo.
Templi e tombe ci raccontano dell’amore di uomini per divinità oggi dimenticate, ci avvertono di come persino le religioni siano fenomeni mutevoli, parabole temporali, destinate a passare e sfiorire nel tempo, come la vita degli uomini.

Antonino Cardillo: “L’Egitto, Flaubert, l’immortalità perduta”, in: «Ulisse», no.279, Alitalia, Rome, November 2007, pp.12-20.




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