La Casa sul Mare di Sicilia is a theoretical project by Lina Bo Bardi designed in 1940 for the magazine Domus. She designed a Mediterranean house, integrated in the landscape, and built using the collective cultural imaginary.
A rationalist modernism built with substances
Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) was an Italian-Brazilian architect and designer, considered as a major figure in modern architecture. She began her career in the agency of Gio Ponti in Roma. There, she was confronted with one of current Ponti’s research about Mediterranean habitat, which was associated through formal simplification with rationalist modernism. She was editor of the magazine Domus, edited by Gio Ponti and developed her critical eye both through text and drawing. In 1946, she emigrated to Brazil, where she began her own architectural practice. She defined her architecture, associating South American vernacular and rationalist modernism, while using a harmony between substances: air, light, nature and art.
Drawing the imaginary, drawing the culture
In August 1940 the magazine Domus published an issue on the habitat on seaside housing. Lina Bo Bardi participated in it with the architect Carlo Pagani, detailing a theorical project of her design, the Casa sul Mare di Sicilia. This project combines theory and imagination, the architect confers a very personal language to the project especially through its graphic expression. The drawing, a tool of representation, is also here a critical and analytic tool. The drawing is both an extension of the mind and a dialogue between the constructive elements of the building and the cultural elements of the Mediterranean coast. In fact, the pages are filled with ancient references, drawings symbolizing the Magna Graecia, historical reminders, characters, vegetation, landscapes, sculptures and objects constituting the Mediterranean culture of the Italian peninsula.
The architecture as a key element in the landscape
First of all the house is integrated in the middle of a landscape, it emerges from the coastal rock, on an almost island where a lighthouse throne at the end. The house follows a square plan situated in a rectangular plot. It is organized around a covered central patio (a clear reference to the Greek house) but also maintains a very strong relationship to the Sicilian landscape. On the ground floor the space is enclosed in a walled garden, to the left of the square volume of the house is built, according to a rectangular plan, a second enclave, a garden full of exotic vegetation. The ground floor is very closed in on itself, it is necessary to elevate to connect to the landscape. The dialogue then takes place, the simple forms in the light color of the house open, framing the Sicilian landscape, the coast, the sea, the volcano. The relations to the landscape are an extension, a part of the living space. To live in this stereometric architecture is to connect to the history of a place, a culture and a climate.
The Casa sul Mare di Sicilia project affirms an architecture in which the constituent elements of a collective imaginary help forming a poetic building. The set of common references helps to understand and design an architecture. The drawing is here the language of this poetic imaginary and the analytical synthesis of a rational Mediterranean house.