Questioning the ‘Genius’
: The Relation between Artificial and Natural in Nowadays Design
Questioning the ‘Genius’_The Relation between Artificial and Natural in Nowadays Design _ Andrea Giannotti
Many ancient as well as modern cultures assign a spiritual value to the uncontaminated Nature. In ancient Roman religion the protective spirit of a place was named Genius Loci. This spiritual entity, in new forms and meanings, has arrived to us also through XX century architecture masters like Aalto and Wright, as their work researched the special relation between man’s intervention and the natural environment.
The nowadays tendency of designing integrated building-in-landscape seems to split into two directions:a building’s integration in the original landscape, or a building’s re-creation of its own landscape. In order to better analyze this subject, we must consider general concepts about mankind’s intervention on the environment. Such concepts as artificial opposed to natural, topos, topography and topology, will be examined in the present issue for a better understanding of the selected projects.
Yet, anything created by men is artificial by definition, and mankind cannot re-create Nature as it was before his intervention. Thus, a clear separation between artificial and natural approach in design -a typical human activity- results difficult. What is important in this context is the relation between human intervention and Nature. How the artificial landscape or building talks to the environment, how it stands out by contrast, or follows its lines. In both cases, we must underline how the artificial project seeks a connection with the natural environment.
Volumes, Voids, and Terrain
Volumes, Voids, and Terrain _ Silvio Carta
There seems to be a strong relationship between rigid monolithic shapes and the landscape, here intended as the combination of the view over the natural beauty and the topography of the terrain where a building sits. The more the terrain is uneven and slopped, the more the architecture seems to respond with stiff and inflexible and volumes. Some project seems to establish a strong connection with the ground, both physical and visual, while others show the intention of being detached from it, floating and cantilevering. What combines all these projects are a pronounced linearity, an almost total absence of curves and fluid shapes, a predominance of orthogonality, and dramatic sequences of solid and voids. Space is here defined by edges either strongly defined or left for the user to glimpse. The composition of these projects is heavily based on volumes and their interaction, with significant emphasis given to the interstitial spaces between volumes, voids, and the terrain.
In most cases a subtle spatial tension is noticeable between the interior spaces and the outside views over a lagoon, a vineyard, or a valley. This article unpacks the geometrical aspects of a series of monolithic projects, and tries to discuss their connection to the landscape. An Observation House in Bulgaria, a House in Chile, a Villa in Switzerland, and a Golf House in Argentina are analysed in their shapes and details, with the aim of examining their spatial and visual characteristics.