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Romance with space

New Delhi,

Vertica Dvivedi on Cardillo’s House of Twelve project in Surfaces Reporter magazine

Surfaces Reporter


When architecture is referred to as an art, the imagination cannot restricted to paper sketches and blue prints alone; it transcends what is visible on the screen. It is compelled to feel the romance of the architect with the space. From texture to materials used, from lighting to utilization of space, the architect uses his creative powers to build something so unique that soothes the eyes besides providing warmth to the hearts of those who choose to dwell in that space. It is like a poet’s dream in motion!

The young Antonino Cardillo has been recognized by Wallpaper* magazine as one of the best thirty new architectural practices from around the world. Based in Rome, he experiments with unexpressed valencies of history in a cohesive whole rich in meanings. Specializing in architecture, urban and interior design, Antonino Cardillo architect operates on a global scale and his distinctive overtures have won him wide acclaim for their curvaceous forms and intelligent use of natural materials.

Drawing energy and will from the inner conscious, the architect leaves no stone unturned to bring his own poem to life. Romance with space works when the architect locates and positions his thoughts not merely in the physical, but emotional, cultural and social space as well. It is a medium to connect one soul with others, to help others connect with the rest. It is a dream that comes to life when a visitor stands there and marvels at how easily he can relate to that space. To bring this to life, various factors play major roles.

When asked what has been the major influence behind his work, Ar. Cardillo mentioned his birth place, Sicily, the largest island of the ancient Mediterranean sea. The dances of the light patterns, the gleaming floors, the textured walls and carefully crafted doors and windows breathe life into it. Often, the architect’s experiences in life, his sources of inspirations, his observations and interests add up a certain charm to a space that he chooses to create.

For once, you may find the elements of my work predictable but each element gets a different meaning by its relationship with other connected elements. Through my architecture, I wish to create a new language using conventional element derived from the past like double walls, large vaults, concrete and apses.

Every building, every space that Ar. Cardillo lays his hands on becomes a masterpiece. His inspiration behind it speaks for itself through the creation that stands before the eyes of the beholder. Just like a poem that has been brought to life, the architectural piece stands, speaking volumes about the magnitude of effort the architect has put in it. His influences and inspirations often find an expression in the building, which at times is prominent, at times, subtle. Irrespective of this, every architect has his signature style that is always the most dominant in every building he creates and designs. He is the sculptor who cuts a barren rock to make it become the most prized possession of anyone who possesses it thereon.

House of Twelve

Client brief

A large dwelling at Kew (suburban residential zone very close to Melbourne’s centre) for a family with two children, a guest room and a large master bedroom zone—almost as an apartment—including toilet, walk in wardrobe, private study, bathroom, small terrace, boudoir and bedroom zone. At ground floor storey there is a large public zone prospecting the main road, including dining, wine cellar and living—both areas with fireplaces—this one [living] visually connected with a rear courtyard including a lap pool to swim. Beyond there are semipublic zone with toilet, upstairs, scullery, pantry, cupboards, kitchen and wide multipurpose area. From here it is possible to access to a very private area on the bottom of site plot, including laundry room (connected by a tube with upper floor), clothes line, kids retreat room, bathroom and shower for pool, recycle bin. Client liked a lot my curvilinear walls as in Convexities and Ellipse, but also liked Vaulted House’s plan layout. So in some way HoT contains also a mix of these previous design works.

Materials used

Concrete, Australian woods for floors, Golden tiles on the living roof, bronzed aluminium for windows frames, white stucco for the walls and light wooden decks for outside pavements.

Working style

In all his projects, ceilings are high, soaring, and dwarf the furniture. Architecture dominates the design of the interior. According to Architect Antonino Cardillo, Architecture should aim to live for long time, while furniture is short-lived; it strictly connects to the use, which is mutable. So he goes for the giant scale for architecture and dwarf scale for furniture.

House of Twelve

Antonino Cardillo, House of Twelve, Melbourne, 2009.


  • Vertica Dvivedi, ‘Romance with space’ (pdf), Surfaces Reporter, New Delhi, June 2011, pp. 36‑41.