Op Ed #3 | Cherubino Gambardella: Crime in Casa Malaparte

Op Ed #3 | Cherubino Gambardella: Crime in Casa Malaparte

A lot of time has passed.

I have always spent my holidays in Capri and, when I was a child, my father, while boating, made me observe a red house with a characteristic shape between Grotta Bianca and Faraglioni and told me: look, that is the house of a famous writer, does it look like a house? I answered no, immediately, without thinking about it.

When, at the age of eighteen, I decided to study architecture, I kept on thinking, while swimming in the sea nearby, that that characteristic object was not a house. It looked like something else, but I didn’t know what it could be.

In the course of time I learnt that it was one of the most famous habitations of the Twentieth Century by reading many texts that had been written about it. And I was impressed by the fact that none of the critics, historian and famous architects that had been studying it lingered on its being a house.

Clearly I was right, it was not a house.

Others, very celebrated in history of architecture, were, and they showed new ways of inhabiting in a continuous relationship between form, inside, outside and volume, which turned into sophisticated slips, amendments and extensions of sense.

This one had no sense.

It was a magnificent trap.

It included too many meanings in itself to consent the prevailing of a reason on another, so it remained for me as an unresolved judiciary case, a crime without the guilty party, a sublime and terrific event always waiting for a final event.

In my studies on Mediterranean architecture I have spoken about it many times, until a few years ago, making a mistake I absolutely want to avoid today.

So I confess: I have always been searching, with no success, its architectural root and the sense of its composition by starting from its observation, from the study of its drawings, from the many visits inside and outside the building, crossing my raids with the study of the many interpretations that have been leaded on it, searching for its root without success, as well as without any particular success seemed to me the interpretations that always accompanied it.

For God’s sake, many of them were beautiful and lighting texts, but they were lighting something else.

Its being born from a conflicting relationship between Adalberto Libera and Curzio Malaparte and its being the product of two opposite and extraordinary brains was not helpful.

In fact there was not an author and any interpretation had to start from the house itself and to the house itself had to go back, without making anything else of it, but explaining it, like architects do in their project reports, looking for the secrets and sensations the house gave them, adjoining their conscience and their architectural composition techniques.

Altars, caverns, graves, horizons, hidden entrances, heraldic plans, physiognomies, Egyptian oars, implacable gods.

Building and words establish an indissoluble friendship, an inextinguishable and powerful rock which weights on the house like an untouchable anathema. Everybody follows his poetics, everybody writes the same thing.

Somebody sketches, nobody draws, nobody tries to give life to other architectures, to imagine them starting from this untouchable relict. Everybody quotes, like they were scared of repeating already told things and weakening their weak project.

I am in the presence of an enormous daybook, using the house as a pretext, a marvellous world of architectural ideas, so strong that I felt en masse the need of forgetting them.

Today Villa Malaparte isn’t a pretext for me, it is an active substance.

I thank Luca Silenzi for giving me the opportunity of thinking of it again as the matrix of a project.

I love writing in-between interrupted writings and, in its completeness, I imagined that this red object could return to be a house, like the acropolis of an hypogeum village, many floors excavated in the rocky mass of the promontory, and the windows in the rock to look at the sea.

Then the light, thousands of lights in the night, like fishing lamps on the beloved pre-christian oar of John Hejduk.

I wanted it to return to be a house: the highest and the most beautiful of an hypogeum village excavated in a promontory, I didn’t want to talk of it again and I remain loyal – at least for the time being – to this program.

In this very hot and clouded July 2014 eight drawings suffice to explain the new village of Capo Massullo in Capri, which has its square in the salon of Libera and Malaparte, increasing, maybe, its sense of a crime without solution.

Cherubino Gambardella

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 2 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 3 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 4 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 5 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 6 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 7 2014

capo massullo Gambardella Malaparte 8 2014

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