Lugano, Switzerland / 2012

A single family house perched above Lake Lugano, this project consists of two main components: the crystal and the pedestal. With its strong shape, the crystal contains the semi-public functions of the house including the living, dining, and kitchen areas. The pedestal supports the crystal and contains the private functions of the house, such as the bedrooms and studios. Similar to Brancusi’s two-piece sculptures, the crystal and the pedestal interoperate, yet retain their individual formal and material character.

Figural Apertures

The crystal features two large figural apertures: one focused on the primary view of the lake to the south, and the other oriented north to the forest. These apertures provide a site of speculation for the project by defamiliarizing the notion of ‘window’ in domestic architecture as either a punched hole or a transparent wall. By avoiding a strictly legible boundary between opaque and transparent surfaces, the perimeter of the aperture perimeters become intricate and loopy, as if doubled in length along the same area. This figuration resonates outward, drifting across the surfaces of the crystal. Comparable to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Freeman House, the two major apertures are flanked along their perimeter by patterns of micro-apertures, challenging the viewer’s perception of the boundary between interior and exterior worlds.

Tectonic Fictions

The crystal’s opaque surfaces are patterned with extruded seams and deep black channels, similar to subdermal tattoos or scarification. Composite supercomponent joints add further micro-articulation to the surfaces. Supercomponents are never separated at mass edges, but rather follow an unfamiliar, puzzle-piece tectonic logic. Joints are glued on site with structural adhesive to avoid an inadvertent indexing of manufacturing processes.

The polarized discourse between the ‘tectonic,’ where means of construction is expressed, and the ‘atectonic,’ where means of construction is fully suppressed, is traded in for a new approach, one where tectonic signs become ambiguous and possibly fictional.

Location: Lugano, Switzerland
Floor Area: 470 SM
Program: Single Family House/ R2 Intensiva
Client: Alessandro Lo Monaco