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Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners

Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners

This one-family villa and small condominium, both designed by Massimo Alvisi and Junko Kirimoto for sites at Trani, may be seen as two rarities in southern Italy: good architecture producing buildings to fit a context but without ducking the contemporary challenge. In so doing they manage not to run aground on the arid sandbanks of so-called Mediterranean style. This indulgently romantic approach is unfortunately growing more and more widespread: the southern architectural faculties churn it out, and it always ends in ridiculous caricature. The two works by Alvisi and Kirimoto stand out for sobriety and rigour, and in the circumstances the prime qualities must be negative: they are immune from the metaphysical hankerings recalling classical Greece or, worse, a kind of pseudo-archaic spirit, which litter the coasts of the Med; again, they avoid decorativism or the picturesque of coloured majolica or Baroque motifs in miniature, cribbed from the façade of some historic building. They refrain, too, from technological simplification and banalization on the demagogic pretext that we are building for a still happily backward society and hence, if you please, nearer to the essence of things, the logos. What they do go into is three inevitable problems posed by a southern setting. How to dialogue with any originality between what must be opaque and what may be transparent - solid wall and glass wall, that is to say. For it is clear that in an environment where the light and sunshine are something to shelter from, there is little scope for the melting-away strategies that are so effective in northern climes. Alvisi and Kirimoto seek a dialectic between solid wall mass and light airy mobile structures interacting with the changing setting. Lastly, they have taken pains to find a way of dialoguing with the surrounding environment in its dual sense: the natural coastal landscape and the artificial patchwork of old town centres along that coast. Hence the use of terraces as a...

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