Sculpture, construction, protection; lytic, firm, solid. I would like to make the stone cladding float, to hang it, to reduce it into small plates to compose a curtain; I would like that these floating sheets, if cherished, could produce a lytic sound. I would like to perceive the stone as sound. The inlays of wood, metal and glass of the floor and walls are a tactile experience, as a pedagogical table aimed to perceive the different surface grains and temperature, and assimilate the sensations that the materials convey. The image comes after, at the beginning other senses are involved.
What if… instead of foundation and solid wall, the stone became a hanging surface? What if architecture and stone design were able to participate in the process of sustainability and recovery of waste materials? What if the ancient construction material, a symbol of stability, weight and strength, was free from the constraint to become what traditionally could not be?
For the design of the pavilion, the company “Il Casone” chooses the architect Francesco Steccanella, which welcomes the heritage of two great artists such as Kengo Kuma and Claudio Silvestrin interpreting the proposed theme with freedom and agility so as to transform the pavilion in playful moment, in a pedagogic table, a music box, for color and tactile sensations.
Steccanella based the concept of the project on the removal of the force of gravity: “I would like to make (the stone) float, hang it, reduce it to small plates to compose a curtain,” referring to the sandstone (pietra serena) marketed by “Il Casone”.
Steccanella proposes a reinterpretation of the traditional elements through the composition of vertical hanging curtains and horizontal multicolored elements fixed vertically to the ground. The sandstone is part of a playful, almost pedagogical, experiment, which reveals the essence through the sensory experience of the visitor. The visitor can touch the surface of the slabs, can hear the sound of thin hung sheets touching in rhythmic succession, can see the colors of the stone that overlap horizontally.
The three elements of the pavilion are resting on a floor that marks the distribution of the stand, almost a mosaic that leads the tour. The surface is divided into three bands: the central one leads to the meeting room and the warehouse and it is crossed by a stone wall forcing the visitor to an immediate contact with the protagonist material.
If it is true that gravity holds the secret of lightness, it is easy to understand how even the stone can be transformed into a curtain, formed by thin mobile strips. These floating curtains of stone and light, sound and architecture make the stone so close to music and literature, being connected to Milan Kundera’s equivalence between weight and constriction, lightness and freedom; or to the opposition between lightness and weight in Italo Calvino’s first lecture at Harvard University in 1984. [...]. It may seem unusual that comparison between such different worlds. But Calvino’s change of approach is exactly the same that drives this project aimed at finding a new method of knowledge of a material inextricably linked to the tradition of Tuscan architecture. The lightness of the stone that is suspended in the air can be read also in terms of sustainability. To the detriment of the cultural tradition that privileges an architecture of massive curtain walls and solid elements, Steccanella and “Il Casone” want to give priority to a lower utilization of material through the production of semi-transparent textures made of “recycled stone.”
Sara Benzi, www.architetturadipietra.it
School of Architecture, University of Ferrara, 2009