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  • Casa das Canoas / Oscar Niemeyer

    Some Context Observing architects' houses is always an extremely interesting game. This case is no exception, indeed, I consider it one of the most pleasant examples on the subject. This is the famous residence of Oscar Niemeyer, situated in São Conrado, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. You can explore the beautiful surroundings navigating through Google Maps of course, using this reference: "São Conrado, Rio de Janeiro - State of Rio de Janeiro, 22610-210, Brazil". And now, let's try to dive into the landscape. The morphology of the territory of Rio de Janeiro is simply crazy. Sudden elevation changes and breathtaking sea views are clearly the standard of the landscape, and along with that, the incredible lush greenery and of course... the climate! That said, it is not surprising that the great Brazilian architect (1907 - 2012) decided to build his residence there. a clipping image from Google Maps I strongly recommend that you do a search of Rio by pictures. I don't think there is a city as rich in shapes in the whole world. It is plausible, in my opinion, that precisely this (pre-architectural) element influenced Oscar Niemeyer's conception of architecture. I mean, if a person is born in that place, he can only be attracted by the sinuosity of the landscape. There is no alternative. And while this may be true for any designer, in this case the abundance of forms is on average higher. This might explain Niemeyer's fascination with organic forms even better. Obviously there are also other cultural factors, but it seems to me that this is a point to add to the reasoning. So that said, let's go deepr into the topic. Design The roof, made with a concrete slab, is an organic design element that recalls the shape of an inlet, as can be seen from its extrapolation. But, more generally, the whole project is made up of various superimposed layers of organic forms. Each layer follows an apparently casual and, so to speak, natural logic. In fact, from a top view perspective, you can read at least three levels that define the general design of the residence: the roof, the swimming pool and the base. Each layer follows an apparently casual and, so to speak, natural logic, so as to communicate in a particularly effective way with the surrounding natural context, as if the building were a natural extension of the landscape. The plan The architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, as it is known, was largely influenced by Le Corbusier. They also collaborated on various projects, the most famous of which is certainly the UN headquarters in New York. This influence is also visible in the "free" conception of the floor plan of this house: the structure is completely detached from the facade. Even better, the notion of a facade itself is misleading in this case, actually. It is as if he wanted to arrive at the natural consequence starting from Le Corbusier's premise about the so-called free plant. The interesting thing is that even if you extrapolate the pillars from the project, you don't read any grid, in the classic sense of the term (In Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye the structural grid was essentially a regular matrix). A much more... free plant. The living area, thanks to the use of large windows, blends completely with the outside, hence, the sight of vegetation (particularly lush at those latitudes) is a constant experience. This is a recurring theme of a lot of modernist architecture, of course, think of Philip Johnson's Glass House, which is a bit of a paradigm for this idea, or the van der Rohe's Farnsworth house) The new construction technologies had made it possible to relieve the facades, but this had gone hand in hand, more generally, with a change in taste, the idea of a life more open to the outside which favors cultural exchange and observation of the surroundings. a view of the 3D model The consequence of this is that the design of the elevation drawings has substantially become irrelevant, since they are no longer able to fully describe the articulations of the composition. a rendered image of the pool and entrance Public / Private The distribution of the interior spaces is characterized by the clear separation of the private area (the living room and the dining area), located on the access floor, from the private area (the rooms), located on the lower level, near the small creek that flows alongside the base, so as to create a sort of sensorial continuity with the swimming pool above. One of the most spectacular elements of the intervention is the large mass located in the center of gravity of the house, a large stone that touches all the spaces as if to act as the pivot of the entire project. The stone is in fact partially immersed in the pool, but then continues to the interiors, even occupying part of the staircase leading to the lower floor. This idea of using natural elements is quite recurrent in organic architecture. The best example of this is Frank Lloyd Wright's Kaufman house, the famous Fallingwater, where natural stone is used for the entire flooring. But more generally it's the location of the building, which seems to want to demonstrate the idea of perfectly blending the natural with the built environment. Exactly as it happens for the Niemeyer's house. Regarding this kind of communicative urgency, I like to recall the famous words of Alvar Aalto: "The ultimate goal of the to create a paradise. Every house, every product of architecture... should be a fruit of our endeavour to build an earthly paradise for people." Starting model credits (from 3D Warehouse) 'Residence of architect Oscar Niemeyer, designed and built between 19951 and 1953 at Canoas road. It is based on the 'as built' plans made available by the 2018 research project 'Brazilian houses of the 20th Century, lead by Beatriz Santos, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.' Link to my model The model has undergone some changes, in accordance with a photographic documentation study. Some pieces of furniture have also been added. Feel free to use it and enjoy it.

  • Working from home isn't smart enough

    For two years now, the term Smart Working has become commonly used in practically every context (especially in Italy, where we use the term erroneously). But are we sure it's the correct term for what we're doing? I've always been curious about language. In Italy, in particular since the pandemic broke out, the term Smart Working has been constantly used, to actually indicate what in English speaking countries is more correctly defined Working from Home (or the less frequently used teleworking), since the term Smart would imply a whole series of factors that do not necessarily fall within the case of simple remote work. Ok, let's see those factors During the pandemic I read dozens and dozens of articles on the subject and, more generally, on productivity. The promise of everyone working happily from home and spending less time commuting is obviously tempting, at least for the vast majority of white-collar jobs, a privileged niche, one might think. But there's a catch... The problem that many have failed to understand, especially at the beginning (and again, especially in Italy), is that this change would be a major upheaval. According to a simple Google search it can be learned that the average size of Italians' residence is about 81sqm, one of the smallest size among developed countries. Even with this data alone, it's clear how complex it can be to impose to work from home. But we can go deeper considering the number of members of the average Italian family. Well, it's 2.3 people. Hence, it means that each person has 35 square meters available. Enough to set up a home studio. But very few if we consider that living spaces must also be placed on that surface. The average size of Italians' residence is about 81sqm, one of the smallest size among developed countries The other problem with so-called smart work is how to measure performance. The classical definition of productivity is given by the notion of quantity. In other words, increasing the quantity of goods produced using less and less time means increasing productivity. Anyway this definition was fine in the context of industrial production, much less for the tertiary sector and even less for a tertiary niche that is related to creativity. In these cases it is not so much the quantity that defines the product, but its quality. In the engineering and architectural services sector, there is still too much attachment to the mistaken belief that a good employee is all the more productive the more hours he spends at his desk. Thus, in the Great Shift caused by working from home due to the pandemic, too often the same factor has been claimed to be measured. Pearl Jam, Do the Evolution, 1998 Instead, it's desirable that we learn to think more in terms of Project Management. Many observers argue that at least some elements of this new approach to work will remain even when the pandemic will no longer be a problem. In the faculties of architecture there are two topics that are absolutely not dealt with and that are in some way related. One is the economic aspect, the other the managerial aspect. Obviously you can decide to tackle specific post-graduate masters to improve this knowledge, but I think that the time has come to introduce these subjects in the standard degree course. The pandemic, after all, is an accelerator of change. And it has become evident, as in the case of remote job management, that scheduling and job assignment skills are even more fundamental. Two tools that I have studied and adored in the last year and which I still use today are Trello and Notion. I started using Trello earlier and it actually remains more efficient as a pure Kanban tool. Especially since the mobile version is remarkably identical to the desktop one, very fast and very reliable, and with a very steep learning curve, which is always appreciated when you have to convince other people to use a new tool. But then I tried to experiment, like many others, with the Notion startup. An "all in one" workspace, actually very convenient for bringing together both the project management part and the part relating to the rules and procedures that are usually used. Sooner or later I'll have to make a video of how I'm using it, but it's still too much in the WIP phase. In the meantime, just take a peek at the main dashboard. The markdown approach is really powerful, and since I'm an architect, I couldn't help but notice the cleanliness of the interface. In my case, graphic beauty can be absolutely decisive for choosing a product ... hello, Steve Jobs! Hope you enjoyed and... let's have a healthy workplace! Both physical and digital.

  • Maison Louis Carré / Elissa and Alvar Aalto

    Maison Louis Carré has been a private home designed by the architects Elissa and Alvar Aalto, completed in 1959. The house is located at the top of its site, an hours' drive from Paris. The client, Luois Carré, of Brittany origin, was a lawyer, an art dealer and - from that time - a lifetime friend of Aalto. The friendship began thanks to Jean Monnet, one of the fathers of the European Union, who convinced Carré to buy land in the Bazoches area. Then Carré choose Aalto (instead of Le Corbusier) as his architect to build a residence in the outskirts of Paris. Louis Carrè had heard good things about Aalto in the circles of his friend art gallery owners. They met for the first time at the Venice Biennale of 1956 and that was the beginning of a long friendship. During the summer Carré went to Finland where he viewed some of Aalto's architecture (especially the beautiful Villa Mairea, I guess), after which Elissa and Alvar went to France to visit the site for the first time. The request of Carré was to have a house that could accommodate many guests for viewing the artworks. A sort of 'home of art'. Elissa and Aalto designed every element, actually, from the garden to the furnishings, exteriors and interiors, including the lighting fixtures, the handles and everything. And the special part of it all is that all of these objects have fundamentally remained there since they were designed and produced by the architects. The external facades are covered with the same stone used in Chartres cathedral, in addition, copper, wood and white bricks are used to complete the exteriors. The large living room is designed as a space for setting up small exhibitions. The main gesture of the project is the curved ceiling, an organic shape tha is almost a signature of the Aalto's style (you can take his famous glass vases as an example, or the curved wood technique, used for many of its furnishings), which follows the path that leads from the entrance to the living room, through a large staircase that takes up the slope of the ceiling. Aalto was well aware of what it meant to make a house in which the private part was mixed with more public spaces, since his own architectural studio took place in his private residence in Helsinki. The house was inhabited by Louis Carré and his family, until his death in 1977, a few months after that of Alvar Aalto. The building is protected by French heritage law since 1996. Link to the 3D model. It's a public model, feel free to upgrade it and enjoy it. Image credits: Maison Louis Carré official website Alvar Aalto Foundation

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    Project/ List Title Image Year City Country Size m³ Client Status Borgopiano 2022 Sant'Angelo Le Fratte Italy 7500 Municipality proposal RLC 2021 San Giovanni in Val di Lago Italy 6500 Competition proposal Isidoro 2022 Roma Italy 220 Private ongoing Pavese 2022 Anzio Italy 1000 Private ongoing ZMW 2022 Anzio Italy 20000 Municipality proposal Casa B 2021 / Italy 600 Private / Bou Park 2021 Anzio Italy 4000 Municipality proposal Plania 2020 Anzio Italy 1200 Private ongoing iMarmi 2021 Nettuno Italy 2000 Private ongoing Piscina Mirabilis 2020 Bacoli Italy 24000 ReUse Italy competition Agra 2019 Nettuno Italy 1000 Municipality ongoing RFI/LED 2019 Fiumicino Italy 50 Informasistemi built AVC/LED 2018 Fiumicino Italy 3 Informasistemi built Panopticon 2018 Nemrut Turkey 50 Competition competition Quadra 2018 Anzio Italy 500 Private built Casàl 2018 Anzio Italy 50 Private built Delpesco 2017 Anzio Italy 200 Private built Holmenkollen 2017 Oslo Norway 1800 DOF Engineers built AVPoint 2017 Anzio Italy 180 Private built Donati 2017 Nettuno Italy 2000 Municipality proposal Fondi 2016 Nettuno Italy 450 Private built Mikado 2016 Horst Netherlands 8000 Bee Breeders competition Steno 2016 Nettuno Italy 25000 Nettuno Baseball proposal Just 4 kid(ding) 2016 Nettuno Italy 12 DIY built Viviani 2015 Marina di Pisa Italy 5000 Municipality competition Villa C 2015 Nettuno Italy 400 Private proposal Marina Docks 2015 Nettuno Italy 100 Private proposal Via Giulia 2015 Roma Italy 90 Private built Office 1 2015 Nettuno Italy 30 Private built Anteo 2014 Anzio Italy 20000 Graduation graduation project Urban Stamp 2010 Erice Italy 7500 Europan competition Leo 2020 Anzio Italy 300 Private ongoing

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