Swisshouse XXXII – Rossa

SWISS HOUSE XXXII artist Daniel Buren in collaboration with Mario Cristiani, Galleria Continua

Built in 2017, XXXII House shuns the run-of-the-mill conception of a dwelling and transforms the architect’s work into a personal manifesto embodying the vision of architect Davide Macullo. The result is a permanent site-specific installation that explores the relationship between man and nature and, at the same time, pays homage to the union of art and architecture, which the Swiss designer has encapsulated into a solid structure by joining forces with artist Daniel Buren.

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

In the natural surroundings of Rossa, a small, uncontaminated village in Val Calanca, the eye catcher is a colourful tower featuring organic forms: two storey high, it is made entirely of wood, save for a floor below ground level, which is made of concrete. The facade is clad with green, magenta and white panels arranged vertically. Only from the presence of doors and windows you can tell it is a house, while the striking contrast with the traditional style of the cottages nearby reflects the architect’s intent to break with formal archetypes.

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

The house in Rossa is not meant as a stylistic rebellion, indeed, it may be seen as a contemporary answer to Marc-Antoine Laugier’s “Primitive Hut” , in an oneiric version reflecting a child's perception of a house - “Just like the typical house as designed by children: two vertical lines, two diagonal lines for the roof, holes for letting in the light. This is the same thing, but completely different.”

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger
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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

Architect Macullo states that without art his work would have to be considered unfinished; in this connection, Daniel Buren’s modus operandi takes on a key role in the project: it underscores the essentiality of XXXIII House. Painting a building with colours, whether they be primary or pure, is a way to restore harmony between built and natural environments: in other words, if it is true that both man and raw materials are works of creation, the products of human creativity should also be considered nature. Other interpreters of the vital essentiality that finds expression in design projects are Flavio Paolucci and Miki Tallone, two artists whose artistic vision finds tangible form in architectural works.

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger
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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

In the interior, the search for the quintessential continues through a masterly reversal in language as, all of a sudden, space sheds all colours but one, all materials but one, and wood, in its warm natural shades, predominates and covers just about every surface. The open space environment gets rid of all things unnecessary and appears almost empty. It is like seeing a mirror image of a work by Rennie Mackintosh: masterpieces that are far removed from one another geographically and in time, but share a virtuous attention to the territory, an understanding of the relationship between man-made structures and the environment, between the natural and the artificial.

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Iconic objects by Alias, hand-picked by the architect, dot the empty space and round off the artistic manifesto. The furnishings meet the same purpose in the interior as Buren’s colours on the outside: they must bear out the intellectual depth and the emotional charge of the project. A not impossible challenge considering that in the dialogue between art and design Alias is one of Italy’s trailblazing companies and one of the very first to have its creations displayed in the permanent collections of art museums such as the MoMA in New York, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Museo Del Design in Milan, to mention just a few. Among the pieces by Alias on display at various museums throughout the world are some of the chairs designed by Mario Botta, with whom Macullo collaborated for several years.

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger
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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

Here, container and content unite to reinvent the archetype. Macullo’s architecture, for example, allies itself with 24 chairs styled by Riccardo Blumer, another long-term friend of the Swiss designer. The Laleggera chair reflects the intent of the work, in that it bears witness to the progress of man’s technology in shaping a traditional material such as wood, in this case, natural oak. Slim Lounge armchairs introduce delicate dabs of colour in the monochrome environment, while the windows offer glimpses of the green scenery all around. Another piece personally selected by architect Macullo, is PearsonLloyd’s Twelve sofa, providing plenty of comfort without the intrusive presence of a bulky frame, all to the advantage of the formal cleanliness of the open space.

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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger
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Credits: Davide Macullo Architects
Ph. Alexandre Zveiger

Drawing upon the principles of vernacular architecture may seem nostalgic, while wrapping a body that, in a certain sense, belongs to nature, might bring to mind Christo's installation art, but the unprecedented and exclusive approach of building a private structure that is an intimate home inside and a magnificent work of public art from the outside makes the project extremely contemporary, a landmark to be looked at as part of our cultural heritage and a precious value to be passed on to posterity.

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