London-based, 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, Oct. 2014, pp. 64‑67, 419.