WHAT IS A HOUSE FOR住宅所为何

Romina Grillo, Liviu Vasiu: We chose Casa Leme Millán because it creates a parallel autonomous universe. It doesn’t need context or landscape and makes no reference to the outside. It’s like an artificial rock in the landscape, there are almost no openings, and it doesn’t communicate, doesn’t give any hint, or clue to what is happening within. Despite this, it harbours a hidden internal richness. It is controversial to the last and breaks all the typical conventions of how to live or inhabit a house.

WHAT DOES ‘BREAKING CONVENTIONS’ MEAN IN THIS CONTEXT? AND WHAT MAKES THIS HOUSE INTERNALLY SO COMPLEX AND AS YOU PUT IT, AUTONOMOUS?

If we look at other houses in Brazil during this period, many were closed towards the outside. For instance, Telmo Porto by Villanova Artigas was built at more or less the same time and has very similar characteristics. There was a very specific political context in Brazil in the 1970s and during this period, intellectuals, and entrepreneurs, asked architects to build houses in a certain way. They wanted to hide from the outside, from the realm of dictatorship. 

However, what we find particularly interesting in Leme Millán house, is that once you are inside, many of the internal spaces are actually experienced as if they were external. Conversely, the courtyard, the space where you arrive, is covered by two big beams, creating a sort of interior. It adds another level of complexity. The house is not only about cutting yourself off. 

At one point, the fact that part of the wall is also curved, somehow gives the feeling that it is a fragment of something bigger. It definitely offers more than just a purely introverted existence.

STILL, YOU HAVE A FEELING OF BEING VERY MUCH INSIDE, PROTECTED BY CONCRETE WALLS, DON’T YOU?

To understand the feeling of openness we are talking about it is necessary to look not only at the envelope but first and foremost on how the interior spaces relate to each other and what this layout allows.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha thought about Casa Leme Millán as a container for life, totally against bourgeois models where there is a clear separation between private and the public areas. In its character, it is similar to Casa Butantã. The private life and public life are very mixed together. There, it is even more extreme because the bedrooms are really in the middle of the house and the walls do not touch the ceiling. You can end up losing yourself in a labyrinth of walls. There you really feel that everything is in one pot, you can easily pass through the rooms just by walking from the entry space to the main space. In Leme House the private areas are somehow separated thanks to the stairs. Nevertheless, in both houses the basic ambition is the same. He imagined spaces that could stage a collective life without boundaries. Even though the house is physically closed, the character of interior spaces and the way in which they coexist suggests a continuity with the public space.

Of course, you know you are inside. At first sight, the living room has the spirit of a cave. However, you definitely don’t feel like you are in a bunker. Although, one would have the impression that Casa Leme Millán is made of dark spaces, it’s not really like that. Light has a strong presence in many spaces; it dominates your thinking.

When you’re in an inside space, with only one skylight, I think, the theme of light is much more evident than when you have a space surrounded by glass, like for instance in Farnsworth house. Even though you are closed in a tight box without a view, the light somehow brings you outside.

DOES THE LAYOUT OF THE HOUSE GIVE YOU THE POSSIBILITY TO HIDE OR RETREAT FROM OTHERS? WHEN YOU ARE IN THESE BEDROOMS, DO YOU REALLY FEEL PART OF EVERYTHING OR IT’S ALSO SOMETHING THAT OFFERS YOU A CERTAIN LEVEL OF PRIVACY?

Mendes da Rocha would say that private spaces do not exist, just public spaces with a different way of being public. During our trip, one of the questions that someone asked him regarded private houses. He didn’t really answer the question, he stopped on the word private saying that this does not exist. The word private doesn’t belong to his vocabulary.

To answer your question in a very practical way, for example, when you go to the upper floor, to one of the bedrooms, you go up on this beautiful staircase and arrive at a kind of bridge. On one side there are the single bedrooms, very structured, identical and on the other side there is a master bedroom, which doesn’t have doors. It’s an open space. All the spaces are looking down to the living room. Only the fact that the curved wall is a bit higher than the other part offers any gradation in publicness. This gesture, together with the difference in level - 5 steps, makes it more personal. But it doesn’t have any fixed boundaries. 

Let’s say you would be heard if you yelled in this bedroom, but you wouldn’t be seen. The difference of height is enough not to see what’s in the bedroom. So, in this sense, I think a very basic level of privacy is met.

All the other bedrooms, have a door, and they look down to the kitchen, which is naturally lit from above. They’re extremely private, you could say. The master bedroom is the only space that has contact with the outside through windows. But they’re also very protected because of the brise soleil outside. You are not able to see in from the street.

IF IT WAS BUILT OUT OF SOMETHING OTHER THAN CONCRETE, WOULD IT CHANGE COMPLETELY? 

Concrete gives it a sort of unity, so you don’t actually talk about the construction of this house. If it were made from wood, the construction itself would be much more present, you would not be able to ignore it. Well, of course, one could say, we could just put plaster all over and it would be the same. I would say yes and no. Spatially it would be the same. But I mean, the fact that the concrete is exposed, and it also has this directness, it helps understand the thinking of this project, it makes it much more honest.

Actually, we asked him why he always used concrete. He answered very simply: concrete is the only material that would allow these ideas to be built - and we feel this is true. How could you do this otherwise? With which material could you do it - from the beginning to the end? Everything is just a unique gesture, you have double height space, walls, floor, ceiling, made in a single pour, it would not be the same in another material.

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T REALLY FIT AT FIRST GLANCE?

For example, the swimming pool is kind of a weird element. Firstly, it’s the only space that is completely outside and secondly its placed directly in front of the house, which is strange given that the pool is often the most intimate space of a house, where you bathe and expose yourself. I don’t think this was by chance. It’s a totally conscious decision to subvert social conventions. 

Another contradiction is that the spaces used by the housekeeper have windows towards the outside whilst the rest of the house goes without. In fact, these service spaces have more windows and generally a greater luminosity than the main living spaces. Of course, this was not just for reasons of atmospheric concept. During this period, I think architects would have argued that it was their way to remove social hierarchies and provide those who are working with totally suitable and good spaces. Now I think it’s irrelevant, it does not impact on the architecture but then, it’s an example of an architect making a sort of political statement, even in times of repression.

IF YOU TAKE OUT EVERYTHING THAT IS RELATED TO THE HUMAN SCALE, THE KITCHEN, THE BED, CHAIRS, WHAT REMAINS - IS THERE AN INHERENT SENSE OF DOMESTICITY IN THESE SPACES?

Leme House is very monumental and abstract. It doesn’t really relate to the dimensions of the human body. Paulo Mendes da Rocha wanted this house to be like a stage, that either exposes social life or underlines the publicness of private life. That is why it relates to the public scale and not to the private.

We always ask ourselves, what is domesticity? One of our conclusions, after many diverse study trips and much personal research, is that it doesn’t matter. Domesticity is personal and related solely to a human being’s way of life and we think, as species, we have the capacity to really inhabit and occupy any type of space. So, if you took your furniture and just put it in the main hall of Zürich railway station you could live there. This applies to any natural or man-made space; it becomes domestic just by the way you use and appropriate it. As far as we are concerned, space is never domestic in itself.

WOULD YOU CALL THIS HOUSE BEAUTIFUL?

Generally, beauty is not something that can be easily agreed upon. For us beauty happens when we don’t get bored. So, it has to have a of sort of mystery and this mystery is often a product of a great instinct, a great idea, or a great intellectual work. It requires a lot of self-discipline and an ability to pull back, be critical and to understand - asking yourself if what you do is good enough and so on.

However, even if you can successfully think in this controlled way, a complete, absolute, and abstract concept will in the end be a bit boring and very dry. This is true even if you could speak about it and are able to describe it in many ways. On the other hand, creating just beautiful spaces, that are without a story is again a little boring. There must be something that goes beyond both pure concept and pure aesthetic beauty.

In the end, something that you don’t know and therefore something that you don’t truly understand is very interesting and can lead to a great richness. Leme House is beautiful in this sense. Its ideas are supported by a complex, and unique view on the world. It’s not that Mendes da Rocha didn’t have a concept; it’s just he chooses not to speak about it so much. He had the innate capacity of creating amazing spaces in a very natural way; simple, direct, effortless. Being in this house, one never feels the work behind it, it is never excessively intellectual, you only sense the beauty of something that is both emotionally mature and mysterious.

WHAT WOULD BE THE OPPOSITE TO THIS HOUSE, WHAT WOULD COME TO YOUR MIND?

If we wanted to just counter the introverted aspect of this house, John Lautner’s Acapulco Arango Residence would be a good choice. It creates a unity with the landscape and completely blurs the boundaries between inside and outside.

The landscape becomes the house, and the house becomes the landscape. 

Lautner opens up the possibilities of how to look at landscape, how to include landscape, cut off landscape, add to it and divide it, connect it and so on. His house permits a way of reading landscape that creates its own kind of culture. This, of course, gives the feeling of infinite possibilities. It offers a much more relaxed, and in a way multiple choice way of living. Lautner’s is dreamier. We find less of these attributes in the houses of Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Leme Millán House is more like an idea. Rocha is more ideological; he gives form to pure ideas, which can be a little unforgiving and require more effort to digest.

16.01.2021

罗米娜·格里洛与里维乌·瓦西乌:我们选择莱梅·米尔纳住宅是因为它创造了一个平行的自治宇宙。它不需要文脉或景观,也不参照外部。它就像景观中的一块人造岩石,几乎没有任何开口,它不与人交流,不给人任何关于内部发生了什么的暗示或线索。尽管如此,它却蕴含着一种隐藏的内部丰富性。它到最后都是有争议的,并打破了所有关于如何生活或居住的常规。

在这种情况下,”打破常规 “是什么意思?是什么让这所房子内部如此复杂,正如你所说的那样,是自主的?

如果我们看一下这一时期巴西的其他房屋,很多都是向外封闭的。例如,Villanova ArtigasTelmo Porto是在差不多同一时期建造的,具有非常相似的特点。20世纪70年代,巴西有一个非常特殊的政治背景,在那个时期,知识分子和企业家要求建筑师以某种方式建造房屋。他们想躲避外界,独裁统治的领域。

然而在莱梅·米尔纳住宅里,我们发现特别有趣的是,一旦你身处其中,许多内部空间实际上被当作外部空间来体验。相反,院子,也就是你到达的空间,被两根大梁所覆盖,形成了某种室内。它增加了另一个层次的复杂性。这座住宅不仅仅是为了斩断自我的联系。

在某一点上,墙的一部分也是弯曲的,这在某种程度上让人感到它是一个更大的事物的碎片。它提供的绝对不仅仅是一个纯粹内向性的存在。

但你仍然有一种强烈的室内的感觉,被混凝土墙所保护,不是吗?

为了理解我们所说的开放感,有必要不仅看表皮,而首先要看内部空间是如何相互联系的,以及这种布局所允许的情况。

保罗客门德斯客达客洛查认为莱梅-米兰之家是一个生活的容器,完全反对资产阶级模式,在那里私人和公共区域之间有明显的分隔。就其特点而言,它类似于布坦塔住宅(Casa Butantã)。私人生活和公共生活是深度混合在一起的。在那里,它甚至更加极端,因为卧室真的在房子的中间,墙壁不接触天花板。你最终会在墙壁的迷宫中迷失。在那里,你真的觉得一切都在一口锅里,你只要从入口区域走到主要空间,就可以很容易地通过房间。在莱梅客米尔纳住宅,由于楼梯的存在,私人区域在某种程度上被分开。然而,在这两座住宅中,基本的野心是相同的。他理想的空间能够上演一种没有边界的集体生活。即使住宅在物理上是封闭的,但内部空间的特点和它们共存的方式暗示着与公共空间的连续性。

当然,你知道你处于室内。乍一看,客厅有山洞的精神。但你绝对不会感到自己在一个地堡里。虽然人们会觉得莱梅-米兰之家是由黑暗的空间组成的,然而并非如此。光线在许多空间都有很强的存在感;它主导了你的思维。

当你处于一个内部空间,且只有一个天窗的时候,我想,光的主题比你在一个被玻璃包围的空间里要明显得多,例如在范斯沃斯住宅(Farnsworth house)。尽管你被封闭在一个狭小的盒子里,没有视野,但光线却以某种方式把你带到了外面。

这座住宅的布局是否让你有可能躲藏或退避他人?当你在这些卧室里时,你是否真的感觉自己是一切的组成部分,或者它还是为你提供一定程度隐私的事物?

门德斯··洛查会说,私人空间并不存在,只是公共空间以不同的方式公开。在我们的旅行中,有人问他一个关于私人住宅的问题。他没有真正回答这个问题,他停在私人这个词上,说这不存在。私有这个词并不属于他的词汇表。

以一种非常实际的方式回答你的问题,例如,当你去楼上,到一个卧室,你沿着这个美丽的楼梯上去,到达一种个连廊。一边是单人卧室,非常有条理,一模一样;另一边是主卧,没有门,这是一个开放的空间。所有的空间都看向下面的客厅。只有弯曲的墙比其他部分高一点的事实提供了一点公共性的渐变。这种姿态,还有高度的差异——5个台阶,使住宅更加个性化。但它并没有任何固定的边界。

比方说,如果你在这间卧室里喊叫,你会被听到,但你不会被看到。高度的差异足以让人看不到卧室里的东西。因此,在这个意义上,我认为一种非常基础水平的隐私已经达成。

所有其他的卧室,都有一扇门,它们向下看是厨房,上方被自然光照亮。可以说,它们是非常私密的。主卧室是唯一通过窗户与外界接触的空间。但由于外面有遮阳板,他们也受到了很好的保护。你不可能从街上看到室内。

如果它是由混凝土以外的东西建成的,它是否会完全改变?

混凝土给了它一种统一性,所以你实际上并没有谈论这个房子的建造。如果它是用木头建成,建构本身的存在感就会更加强烈,你将不能忽视它。当然,有人会说,我们可以到处用石膏涂满,那就会是一样的。我想说是也不是。在空间上,这么做将是相同的。但我的意思是,混凝土被暴露的事实,以及这种直接性,会有助于理解这个项目的想法,它使住宅更诚实。

实际上,我们问他为什么总是使用混凝土。他的回答非常简单:混凝土是唯一能让这些想法得以实现的材料——我们觉得确实如此。否则你怎么能做到这一点?用哪种材料可以做到——从开始到结束?一切都只是一个独特的姿态,你有两层高的空间,墙壁,地板,天花板,在一次浇筑中完成,这在其他材料中是不一样的。

是否有一些乍看之下并不合适的东西?

例如,游泳池是一个奇怪的元素。首先,它是唯一完全在外面的空间,其次,它被直接放在住宅前面,这很奇怪,因为游泳池通常是住宅中最私密的空间,你在那里洗澡和暴露自己。我不认为这是个偶然。这是一个完全有意识的决定,以颠覆社会习俗。

另一个矛盾是,管家使用的空间有朝向外面的窗户,而房子的其他部分却没有。事实上,这些服务空间有更多的窗户,通常比主要的生活空间有更好的采光。当然,这不仅仅是由于氛围的概念。在这一时期,我想建筑师会认为这是他们消除社会等级的方式,为那些工作的人提供完全合适的好的空间。现在我认为这是不相关的,它对建筑没有影响,但这是一个建筑师做出某种政治声明的例子,即使在压抑的时代。

如果你把所有与人的尺度有关的东西都拿出来,厨房、床、椅子,还剩下什么——这些空间中是否有一种内在的居家感?

莱梅·米尔纳住宅是非常有纪念意义和抽象的。它与人体的尺寸没有真正的关系。保罗客门德斯客达客洛查希望这所房子像一个舞台,要么暴露社会生活,要么强调私人生活的公共性。这就是为什么它与公共尺寸有关,而非私人尺度。

我们总是问自己,什么是居家感?经过很多不同的考察旅行和个人研究,我们的一个结论是:这并不重要。居家感是个人的,只与一个人的生活方式有关,我们认为,作为物种,我们有能力真正居住和占据任何类型的空间。因此,如果你把你的家具,只是放在苏黎世火车站的大厅里,你可以住在那里。这适用于任何自然或人造的空间;获得居家性仅仅通过你使用和适应的方式。就我们而言,空间本身从来就不是居家性的。

你会说这座住宅美吗?

一般来说,美不是可以轻易达成共识的东西。对我们来说,当我们不感到厌烦时,美就会发生。因此,它必须有某种神秘感,这种神秘感往往是一种伟大的本能、伟大的想法或伟大的智力工作的产物。它需要大量的自律,以及抽身而出、批判和理解的能力——问自己所做的是否足够好,等等。

然而,即使你能成功地以这种可控的方式思考,一个完整的、绝对的、抽象的概念到头来也会有点无聊,非常枯燥。这是真的,即使你可以谈论它,并能够以多种方式描述它。另一方面,仅仅创造美丽的空间,没有一个故事,也会有点无聊。必须有某种超越纯粹概念和纯粹美感的东西。

最终,你不知道因而你不真正理解的东西是非常有趣的,可以导致巨大的丰富性。在这个意义上,莱梅·米尔纳住宅是美的。它的想法是由一个复杂的、对世界的独特看法支持的。门德斯··洛查并不是没有概念;只是他选择不过多地谈论它。他有一种与生俱来的能力,以一种非常自然的方式创造出惊人的空间;简单、直接、毫不费力。在这所房子里,人们从来没有感觉到它背后的工作,它从来没有过度的智识,你只察觉到一些感性上成熟与神秘的美。

与这座住宅相反,你会想到什么呢?

如果我们只想反驳这所房子的内敛性,约翰-劳特纳(John Lautner)的阿卡普尔科-阿朗戈住宅(Acapulco Arango Residence)将是一个不错的选择。它创造了与景观的统一,完全模糊了内部和外部的界限。

景观变成了住宅,而住宅变成了景观。

劳特纳开辟了如何看待景观的可能性,如何包含景观,切断景观,增加景观和分割景观,连接景观等等。他的住宅允许了一种阅读景观的方式,创造了它自己的一种文化。当然,这给人的感觉是无限的可能性。它提供了一个更轻松的,并且在某种程度上有多种选择的生活方式。劳特纳的更加梦幻。我们在保罗·门德斯··洛查的住宅里很少发现这些属性。莱梅·米尔纳住宅更像是一个想法。洛查更多是意识形态;他赋予纯粹的想法以形式,这可能有点不宽容,需要更多的努力来消化。

2021116

Grillo Vasiu

Romina Grillo and Liviu Vasiu graduated at Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio in Switzerland. They have worked in different offices like Valerio Olgiati in Flims and OMA in Rotterdam. Since 2010 they work independently, developing different projects, initially inside the collective “Unulaunu”, and now as founders of the studio “GRILLOVASIU”. The national Romanian pavilion for the 2010 Venice biennale was their first build project, since then, they are in the realisation and participation of international projects, exhibitions, lectures and publications. Next to their professional activity Grillo and Vasiu are constantly involved in the academic field, teaching in prestigious universities such as Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio, ETH - Zürich, AHO Oslo and Porto Academy.

www.grillovasiu.com