Walls, Geometry and Ideas, Russell Light

This lecture was a case study of Casa Poli by the architecture practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen:


Image from http://www.archdaily.com/476/poli-house-pezo-von-ellrichshausen/500ebd6128ba0d0cc700012c-poli-house-pezo-von-ellrichshausen-image

Thinking about Architecture

Russell began by talking through some quotations from architects and thinkers on what architecture is.  The first one was from Qingyun Ma: ‘Architecture is more about ideas than materials.’ This quotation to me encapsulates an approach that emphasises the importance of creativity, flair and innovation in design. He then talked about Pezo and von Ellrichshausen’s approach to architecture which is ‘primarily based on rational and abstract models of space, but it is also informed by the corporeal experience of space, by evocative thoughts and immediate sensations.’ (Pezo von Ellrichshausen) If I am right in my interpretation of this quotation they are saying that designing spaces is to them about the physical and embodied as well as the abstract and conceptual.

Geometry – Historical Continuity

Russell then went on to emphasise the importance of a short text by Colin Rowe ‘The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa‘.  This was a very significant piece of writing on architecture. Rowe showed that, contrary to accepted belief that modernist architecture was radically different to that which predated it, the designs of Le Corbusier and some Renaissance architecture were, in fact, comparable and shared many geometric similarities, the principle one being their cube like nature.  The Casa Poli also shares this cube design.  We were shown plans, sections, elevations and photographs that demonstrated the architects’ dramatic use of this simple form.

Walls, Promenades and Raumplan

We were then shown plans, sections, elevations and photographs of buildings with thick walls, and the importance of wall thickness was explained.  Thick walls can

  • hide changes in shapes within buildings
  • provide protection from the elements
  • give a sense of intimacy within a space
  • provide storage and space for stairs (as in the Casa Poli)

The Case Poli also exemplifies the use of promenades, which are an architectural means of moving through and around a space, and Adolf Loos‘s idea of the ‘Raumplan’, which was an influential idea in architecture; using a series of different levels, at different heights, within buildings, connected by sequences of steps.

I love this image of the Casa Poli, which I think demonstrates the Raumplan influences:


Image from http://www.archdaily.com/476/poli-house-pezo-von-ellrichshausen/500ebd6328ba0d0cc700012d-poli-house-pezo-von-ellrichshausen-image


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