Halfway between art and architecture

Isn’t it amazing how architecture has yet to take advantage of what happened culturally during the 1950s and ‘60s?

Doesn’t that seem like a big waste?

Where has the desire to emulate others and express oneself gone?

Pop art, the “ordinary” poetry of Charles Bukowsky, the Beat Generation, pop and rock music appear to be sitting on the shelves of history collecting dust, as architecture remains aloof and uninvolved.

It continues to be “Protestant”, purist, formal and vaguely totalitarian, even in an ideological way.

As grandchildren of the modern movement, its authors continue to ignore all that could cure its anaemia, making it boring, glacial, loveless and banal.

When will architecture learn how to be easygoing and pluralist?

A small house set among olive groves in a boundless piece of countryside, suspended between the wind and the sea, way down in a part of Italy afflicted by uncertainty, can express more than many megaprojects full of technological and mercantile arrangements.

Casa Ritratto, located in Ostuni, Puglia, is an attempt to make up for some lost time without being too serious.

It comunicates simple contemporary aphorisms, in both its visual language and its techniques/materials.

Its expression stands in opposition to the abstract geometry employed by almost all the large firms for global architecture.

Its technique is the spraying of one material on another; thickness on raw boxes.

The material is rigid polyurethane on a lot of wood, but the bath-rooms are covered with myriad little mirrors that reflect the surrounding countryside’s olive trees as one bathes.

The house is an actual portrait of the Venetian couple that commissioned me to make it, so it bears a likeness to their faces.


Gaetano Pesce, New York June 2008.