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ELASTICOfarm units a brand new precedent for Venice’s Lido di Jesolo whereas breaking floor for its “context-critical” observe

summertime love
you’ll bear in mind me
summertime love
be my lover
be my child

It’s 1987. An upbeat Italo disco sound is pounding as a younger bikini-clad Sabrina Salerno sings “Boys, Boys, Boys,” driving the crew boys loopy whereas dipping out and in of a Smurf-blue pool. These visuals, which laid the foundations for a decades-long aesthetic, belong to the historical past of European popular culture, whereas the pool itself belongs to the four-star Lodge Florida within the seaside city of Jesolo, the Venetian Miami Seaside.

It’s 2022. Just a few blocks from Lodge Florida, the crowded constructed cloth of Lido di Jesolo is shaken up by a brand new and surprising visible: a cascading cluster of modular containers, perched atop slanted stilts, shining brilliantly within the daylight. Like Salerno rising from the azure waters, this apparition floats above a sloped retail pedestal, surrounded by a plaza and topped by the turquoise rectangle of a swimming pool.

This constructing, a high-end housing improvement referred to as Le bâtiment descendant l’escalier (actually “the constructing strolling down the steps”), was designed by the Italian agency ELASTICOfarm, led by Stefano Pujatti. The undertaking goals to interrupt with native conventions and maximize worth, each city—by opening up a brand new connection between the principle road and adjoining again streets—and architectural—by offering daylight to all items, which open onto shared galleries to the north.

a boxy building on stilts in italy
“The constructing strolling down the steps” lives as much as its title due to the outstanding struts that jut over the central staircase (Iwan Baan)

Leaving the euphemistic comparisons apart—and this constructing is a Mies Award nominee, by the way in which—Le bâtiment prompts two reactions, one impressionistic, the opposite analytic. First, is that this juggernaut strolling on slanted stilts amid a quiet coastal cloth of peculiar condominium blocks? Sure, after all it’s. And second, what does this point out concerning the primacy of context? Since that is an especially delicate and triggering query in Italy, we want a second to speak concerning the Italian notion of “context.”

Whereas it might be not possible to squeeze the huge literature protecting the topic into a couple of traces, it’s primarily true that Italy’s modern city panorama is basically a product of postwar pondering, with no connection or respect for the Italian Metropolis™ as traded upon worldwide. Jesolo, for instance, is tailor-made to a newly globalized vacation clientele, leading to monumental quantities of constructed materials, most of which opens on fairly peculiar views or, in the event you’re fortunate, the seaside. In the meantime, the economics of leisure as consumption provide an opportunity to supply new cultural expressions.

And right here we’re once more, again to Italo disco, Italian summer season mythology, and the now much-celebrated aesthetics of the Riviera. Lido di Jesolo is a matter of psychological context: Right here, what one desires most is the prospect to see and be seen. This “show-off society,” per Pujatti, attracts guests from close by provinces and overseas. It has additionally attracted the eye of many famend designers who’ve sought to make a mark on the place, together with Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier, and Gonçalo Byrne, or to associate with native establishments on bigger city design initiatives, as Kenzo Tange or Aires Mateus & Associados have completed.

a elasticofarms-designed complex with turquoise fencing wrapping the walkways
The rear of the constructing is ringed with colorfully fenced walkways (Iwan Baan)

Pujatti instructed AN that Le bâtiment was an enormous break for his workplace. After learning at SCI-Arc, he hung out working for the Italian grasp of poetic construction Gino Valle, which is obvious in the way in which Pujatti’s buildings replicate private pursuits and preoccupations. It’s what makes it very tough to put the work in any geography/model/generation-based class. As a substitute, visible metaphors and seemingly incongruous materials decisions, such because the bladelike glass panels and chopped uncovered brickwork that characterize the 2 ends of a florist’s laboratory within the Piedmontese nation city of Chieri (2008), predominate. Unlikely transpositions are one other compelling system, a great instance being the cantilevered stone “curtain” discovered on the Stoned Home in San Quirino (2018).

The Jesolo undertaking expands these themes to an city scale. It gave Pujatti a chance to make use of kind provocatively, laborious to do in personal residential initiatives, whereas additionally leaving the door open to spontaneity and probability within the design course of. “We needed one thing to occur, although we didn’t plan that one thing upfront,” Pujatti mentioned. This may be seen on the southern facade, the place the same old pairing of coloured tile with white grout has been reversed. This answer, which is typical of loo interiors, reacts in another way underneath diverse gentle situations, permitting the constructing to alter moods by the hour.

Pujatti spoke about “in search of the potential for brand new expressions in between the meanders of peculiar use,” which is somewhat like analyzing a dream or reminiscence of a spot. It requires one to assemble a psychological panorama from no matter disparate supplies one has at hand. Maybe this makes a helpful body for Le bâtiment’s extra curious strikes, such because the sharp distinction between the slender structural columns that collect at factors on the bottom and the boxy mass they maintain aloft. Or the blue-green balconies that overlap on the north elevation and, in doing so, resemble a fishing internet.

looking up at a ring of walkways
(Iwan Baan)

The mental class of “relational context” is apt to explain the development or collaging of context by way of the positioning of design ideas towards materials, however most of all immaterial, inputs arising from particular conditions. This methodology will be utilized in radically totally different contexts and geographies. So far, a part of Pujatti’s observe is now primarily based in Canada, the place a undertaking for the Weengushk Movie Institute—designed in collaboration with KFA Architects and Planners—beneficial properties its pictorial power by way of its relationship to the encompassing forest. And a proposal for a Toronto home, referred to as the Maison Glacé, would enable ice to jell on the facades, concretizing an ideal picture of the regional panorama.

By the way in which, Maison Glacé(e) is French for “frosted home,” however sounds quite a bit like “marron glacé” (sugar-frosted walnuts), a high quality confiserie deal with instantly evoking one other psychological panorama, of old school bourgeois European tearooms. Sadly, I wasn’t capable of run this interpretation by Pujatti. I suppose I’ll depart it for the subsequent installment of “context-critical structure.”

Giovanni Comoglio is an architect skilled in Turin and Paris. He’s a lecturer and educating assistant on the Politecnico di Milano and teaches Historical past of Structure at ISAD in Milan.


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