WHAT IS A HOUSE FOR住宅所为何

Martino Pedrozzi: In 1999 I worked during two months in the office of Oscar Niemeyer. At the time, for a place to stay in Rio, Niemeyer offered me his own house, Casa das Canoas in São Conrado. Unfortunately, as it worked out, the house is quite far from the office in Copacabana and since I was without a car in Brazil, was forced to decline the kind offer and find somewhere closer. Ever since then I have asked myself, repeatedly, what would it have been like to live in such an icon? It is probably the main reason why I chose it. To me, it is still an open story.

It’s a house composed of essentially two opposites. Part of it is completely open to the exterior and the surrounding landscape. It is meant as a fragment of much bigger area. The borders are non-existent. I remember photos showing a grand piano standing outside under the roof. There are sculptures - idealised inhabitants, that happen to be both inside and outside.

On the other hand, at the lower level there is another part, a very defined closed one, with almost no openings. The feeling there is as if you were underground.

When you study drawings and photographs, you do not doubt that the house has a domestic character. However, upon visiting it, you are left with a feeling that is unlike anything you imagined before. It is much less a nest-like house than the pictures of it suggest.

I was surprised that it was more theatrical than domestic. After visiting it you are attracted by the pictures that show Niemeyer and his wife posing or the ones showing the sculptures, because they transmit something very true about this space. A sculpture becomes a person, a person becomes a sculpture. A common sense tells us to think about a niche when you build a house, in Casa das Canoas it’s not the case. 

FOR MANY PEOPLE, IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO IMAGINE CALLING THIS KIND OF SPACE AS A HOUSE.

Yes, I even started to ask myself if this radical polarisation was comfortable. But living there could be a liberating experience too. On the main floor at once you inhabit a house and the entire surface of the Earth. I find it a beautiful concept, but obviously it is not simple to spend all your time in a space of this type. In fact even Niemeyer and his wife did not live there very long.

The principal spaces, the ones that prevail in terms of scale and importance are public in character. It is easy to imagine a person you don’t know passing by, sitting down under the roof as if it were a restaurant or a bar in a city square, and starting a conversation with you or whoever there is.

The plot is in a valley. If you look around, you have a sort of wall of forest on three sides and an opening towards the sea. The real limits of the house, if there are any, are natural, they are drawn by topography and vegetation. On two sides the plinth melts directly into the topography. One side cuts into a slope, another follows the geometry of a small stream. The roof has a freeform too. The only clean-cut, the only straight line you find is the one towards the sea. I find it a very effective gesture. It gently reminds us that we are terrestrial animals and that the sea is not a habitable space.

Leaving the plinth, the stairs bring you down to a small common room. Then you reach the bedrooms, where there are some peculiar windows that pop out of the wall. He designed them in such a way to preserve the breach character of the openings in the wall. I remember a photograph of this window: it shows the trees in the background surrounded by a dark wall framing the view. It renders very clearly, the character of this part of the house. You watch the world outside through a hole in the wall, you cannot go in and out. You are protected by the mass of matter. 

In the main space of the house, everything under the roof has a furniture nature. Downstairs, the slab, the floor, the walls form a unity and stay firmly together.

Niemeyer underlines the fact that, the only indispensable space that makes a building a house is a safe place to sleep. When you sleep you are vulnerable, you need protection. As soon as you open your eyes, you could, theoretically do without a house, you can defend yourself. That is why many animals only use burrows to sleep in and spend the rest of the time walking and running around outside. Casa das Canoas is about that. It thematises the transition between the private sphere and the public, free one. 

I am not sure if it is possible to define once and for all what a house is. Niemeyer’s Casa das Canoas is not a house in a classical sense. In this building all the features that are traditionally associated with the notion of house - the activities like cooking, self hygiene, sleeping are marginal. What’s more, from the point of view of spatial character, it is as if it had no specific entrance. These kinds of houses make a lot of sense. Their essence is not just about comfort. They make you think.

YOU DESCRIBE ALL THE QUALITIES AS SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE STRONGLY ATTRACTED TO. WOULD YOU MAKE A STEP TOWARDS THIS WAY OF LIVING? COULD YOU INHABIT A HOUSE THAT HAS THESE EXTREME PROPERTIES?

I have doubts. For sure I wouldn’t find it an easy decision to live in this house alone as I was offered. A public space is a space that one enjoys in company, with the others. I think Casa das Canoas is a house to live periodically. When something ideal, absolute becomes daily it can sometimes be problematic. In my opinion this house teaches us subtly to recognise the balance between absolute and ordinary in our lives.

IN WHICH WAY COULD A HOUSE LIKE THIS INFLUENCE YOUR WAY OF LIFE?

Mies van der Rohe used to say that his ambition was to create spaces where pieces of art and individuals could live their own lives autonomously. The thing is, this kind of freedom, also brings a share of constraint. In a situation of maximal freedom, you are asked to choose how you want to live. Casa das Canoas gives you this opportunity.  You have to be a person who likes to feel free to appreciate it, which is not always the case. Niemeyer’s house doesn’t follow you; it doesn’t suggest or teach, and certainty does not instruct you to do or be anything. What it does do, is give you a framework to move in, which is typical of public space and very atypical for a domestic space.  When a house gives you this level of freedom, the attention is moved from architecture to other aspects, most importantly to people that you are with. I find this a fantastic feature. It is the opposite of what kitsch is. Kitsch, in my mind, is when something tells you, without offering options, what interpretation you should give to it.

THE HOUSE IS MADE OUT OF A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS; WE CAN SEE STONE, WOOD, CONCRETE, GLASS, STEEL, PAINTS OF VARIOUS COLOURS, ETC. WHAT DO YOU THINK WERE THE CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING MATERIALS?

When you are there it doesn’t strike you. As far as I am concerned they are used pragmatically, according to the function, visual balance, and atmosphere. For example the floor of the plinth is made of dark tiles under the roof and of a different material in the open air. His idea was to make interior and exterior spaces that are as one. If he had wanted to be 100% radical and, in a way coherent, he could have found flooring that would have worked both where covered and uncovered. In my opinion though, it would have been demonstrative, as if he had written it on a wall: "Look, my concept is to merge the interior with the exterior."

YOU TOLD US ONCE THAT NIEMEYER HAD A GIFT OF UNIFYING SENSUALITY AND COHERENCE.

I find this a very beautiful aspect of Niemeyer’s architecture. It doesn’t require a handbook to explain why you should appreciate it. At the same time, it has something classic in it, and it is rigorous. We as architects often search for depth, rationality, etc., imposing our own rules and trying to understand every step we make. I guess Niemeyer was doing things more instinctively. His works have the same theoretical rigour as buildings by other respected architects, but they keep it on the background as a premise, not as a goal. I believe it is a general truth about architecture, film, or any other work of art. 

The highest quality of work is reached when an artist manages to express, coherently, varied points of view, so much so, that it is possible for many different people to interact with it. Mixing spontaneity with clarity, in the right proportion, is a very difficult thing to do. The whole experience of my stay in Rio, made it very evident to me, that whatever we think at the conceptual level needs to be checked from the sensual point of view.

11.06.2020

马蒂诺·佩德罗齐:1999年我曾在奥斯卡·尼迈耶(Oscar Niemeyer)事务所工作了两个月。在此期间,为了让我在里约有一个住处,尼迈耶提供了他的自宅,独木舟之家(Casa das Canoas)。不幸的是,事实证明,这所房子离科帕卡巴纳(Copacabana)的办公室很远,因为我在巴西没有车,我被迫拒绝了这个好意并找到了更近的地方。从那时起,我就反复问自己,生活在这样一个标志性建筑里会是什么感受?这可能是我选择它的主要原因。对我这仍是一个开放的故事。

这是一个基本上由两个对立面组成的住宅。其中一部分完全向室外和周边的景观开放。它意味着建筑成为更大的区域的一个片段,边界消隐。我记得照片里显示着,一个巨大的钢琴伫立在室外屋檐下。那里有雕塑——理想化的居民,恰好一些在室内,一些在室外。另一方面,更低矮的区域是这个住宅的另一部分,一个非常明确的封闭部分,几乎没有开口。你在那会感到仿佛身在地下。

当你研究这些图纸和照片时,你不会怀疑这个住宅有一种居家特性。然而,当你拜访后,它会遗留给你一个种感觉,它不似任何你想像过的样子。它更不像照片显示的那样,是一个巢穴般的住宅。

我惊讶于相较于居家感,它更戏剧化。参观之后,你会被那些尼迈耶和他妻子摆姿势或展示雕塑的照片所吸引,因为它们传递了关于这个空间一些非常真实的东西。一个雕塑变成了一个人,一个人变成了一个雕塑。常识告诉我们,当你建造一个房子时要考虑壁龛,而在独木舟之家,情况并非如此。

对很多人来说,称呼这种空间为住宅,是无法想象的。

是的,我甚至开始自问,这种激进的两极化是否舒服。但住在那里也可能是一种解放的体验。在主楼层,你同时居住在一栋房子和整个地球表面。我觉得这是一个美丽的概念,但显然,要把所有的时间都花在这种类型的空间里并不简单。事实上,即使是尼迈耶和他的妻子也没有在那里住很久。

主要的空间在规模和重要性方面占据优势,它们是公共性质的。很容易想象一个你不认识的人由此经过,在屋檐下落座,就像城市广场上的餐馆或酒吧一样,与你或在场的任何人开始一段交谈。

该地块位于一个山谷中。如果你环顾四周,你会发现三面都是由森林构筑的墙,还有一个面向大海敞开。房子的真正界限,如果有的话,是自然的,它们由地形和植划定。在两边,建筑底座直接与地形融为一体。一边切入斜坡,另一边顺着一条小溪的几何形态。屋顶也是自由形式的。唯一干净的,你发现的唯一的直线是朝向大海的那条线。我感到这是一个非常有效的姿态。它温和地提醒我们,我们是陆地上的动物,大海不是一个可居住的空间。

离开建筑底座,楼梯引导你下到一个小的公共房间。然后你到达卧室,那里有一些奇特的从墙上跳脱的窗户。他以这样的方式设计它们,以保留墙壁上开口的破损特征。我记得有一张关于这个窗户的照片:它显示了背景中的树木,周围有一堵深色的墙,框住了视野。它非常清楚地反映了住宅在这一部分的特征。你通过墙上的一个洞观察外部世界,而不能进出。你被物质的质量所保护。

在房子的主要空间里,屋顶下的一切都具有家具的性质。在楼下,楼板、地板、墙壁形成了一个统一体,并牢牢地待在一起。尼迈耶强调了这样一个事实:使建筑成为住宅的唯一不可或缺的空间是一个安全的睡眠场所。当你睡觉时,你是脆弱的,你需要被保护。只要睁开双眼,理论上你可以没有住宅,你可以自我保护。这就是为什么许多动物只是用洞穴来睡觉,其余时间都在外面行走和奔跑。独木舟之家就关乎这一点。它表现了私人领域和公共、自由领域之间的过渡。

我不确定能否一劳永逸地定义什么是住宅。尼迈耶的独木舟之家并不是传统意义上的住宅。在这个建筑中,所有传统上与住宅概念相关的功能——如烹饪、自我清洁、睡眠等活动都是边缘化的。更重要的是,从空间特征的角度来看,它就像没有特定的入口一样。

这种住宅有很多意义。它们的存在并不关乎舒适。它们让你思考。

你将所有的品质都描述为强烈吸引你的东西。你会向这种生活方式迈出一步吗?你能居住在一个具有这些极端特性的住宅里吗?

我怀有疑虑。可以肯定的是,即使得到邀请,我也不觉得单独住在这所住宅里是一个轻松的决定。公共空间是一个人在公司里和其他人一起享受的。独木舟之家是一个可以定期居住的房子。当一些理想化的东西完全成为日常的时候,往往会出现问题。在我看来,这个住宅巧妙的教导我们认识到纯粹和日常在我们生活中的平衡。

这样的住宅会以何种方式影响你的生活方式?

密斯·凡·德罗曾经说过,他的野心是创造一种空间,艺术品和个人能自主的生活其中。问题上,这种自由也带来一份约束。在自由度极大的情境下,你被迫选择你想要如何生活。独木舟之家给你这样的机会。

你必须是一个喜欢自由的人才能欣赏它,而这并不总是如此。尼迈耶的住宅不会跟随你;它不建议或教导,而且肯定不会指示你做什么或成为什么。它所做的,是给你一个框架来移动。这是典型的公共空间,同时也是很非常不典型的居住空间。当一个住宅给予你如此程度的自由,注意力由建筑转移到其他方面,最重要的是和你在一起的人。我发现这是一个奇妙的特质。它与刻奇(Kitsch)恰恰相反。刻奇,以我之见,是一些事物在告诉你,在没有选择下,你应该作出什么样的解释。

这座住宅由各种不同的材料构成;我们能看见石头,木材,混凝土,玻璃,钢铁,各种颜色的涂料等等。你认为选择材料的标准是什么?

当你在那里时,它没有让你猛然意识到。就我而言,材料被务实的使用,根据功能,视觉平衡和氛围。例如建筑底座的地面在屋檐下是深色的瓷砖,而在露天的地方是另一种材料。他的想法是将室内外空间融为一体。如果他想百分之百的激进,并保持某种程度上的连贯,他可以找到在被覆盖和露天的地方都能使用的地面。但在我看来,这就成为了一种示威,仿佛他在墙上写道:“看,我的概念是将室内融合到室外。”

你曾经告诉我们,尼迈耶有一种将感性与和谐统一的天赋。

我发现这是尼迈耶建筑非常美丽的一个方面。它不需要一本手册来解释为什么你要欣赏它。同时,它蕴含着一些经典的东西,而且是严谨的。作为建筑师,我们经常寻求深刻,理性等,强加我们的规则并试图理解我们操作的每一步。我猜尼迈耶做事情的时候更遵循本能。他的作品与其他受人尊敬的建筑师的建筑一样具有理论上的严谨性,但他们将这种严谨性置于背景上作为前提,而非目标。我相信这是一个关于建筑,电影或任何其他艺术作品的普遍真理。当艺术家能连贯的表达不同的观点,以至于能让众多不同的人与之互动时,作品的质量就达到了最高点。将自发性和清晰性以适当的比例混合在一起,是一件很难做到的事情。我在里约停留的整个经历让我明白,无论我们在概念层面思考了什么,都需要以感性的视角来检阅。

2020年6月11日

MARTINO PEDROZZI

Martino Pedrozzi’s work ranges from complex urban projects to self-initiated interventions that engage with rural heritage of swiss Alps. He founded and has led since 2003 WISH (Workshop on International Social Housing) at the Academy of Architecture, Università della Svizzera italiana, where from 2016 to 2021 he was design studio visiting professor. After graduation at EPFL Lausanne in 1996, he worked at Oscar Niemeyer’s studio in Rio de Janeiro. He is the author of some books, among the most recent “Perpetuating architecture” (Park Books, 2020) and “Mini Cigarillos” (Letteraventidue, 2020).

www.pedrozzi.com

Il lido di Ascona di Livio Vacchini, Una teoria del giunto (Edizioni Casagrande, Bellinzona 2017)
www.edizionicasagrande.com/libri_dett.php?id=2671
Casualità e disegno, Edilizia residenziale e spazio pubblico a Lugano (Edizioni Casagrande, Bellinzona 2020)
www.edizionicasagrande.com/libri_dett.php?id=2764
Mini Cigarillos, Due mesi nello studio di Oscar Niemeyer (Letteraventidue, Siracusa 2020)
www.letteraventidue.com/it/prodotto/397/mini-cigarillos
Quindici anni di WISH, Workshop on International Social Housing (Mendrisio Academy Press, Mendrisio 2020)
www.arc.usi.ch/it/attivita/mendrisio-academy-press/catalogo/documenti
Perpetuating architecture, Martino Pedrozzi's interventions on the rural heritage in Valle di Blenio and in Val Malvaglia (Ita-Eng, Park Books, Zurich 2020)
www.park-books.com/index.php?pd=pb&lang=de&page=books&book=1134
Primavera 2020
www.primavera2020.ch