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Villa IE (家)

House Means Roof

Damilanostudio Architects

In architectural design, everything comes down to impression: the completely personal feeling that, as the word’s etymological root literally tells us, enters into us through the senses, especially sight, and leaves behind something in our memory. Conditioned by the feel and mood of the moment, veritable pressure on the retina prompts our brain to register and store away impressions in our memory library. Memories do not just build up, they change over time: today, neuroscience understands that every time we recall and access a memory, we adapt it to the moment and, above all, we put it back into our personal archive after having altered it - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. The processing of ideas: Plato had an inkling of this when he told us we all draw on an immense common basin somewhere out there in the universe. In their infinity, architectural projects may all be traced back to paradigmatic models that remain current today, yet they are much as Gottfried Semper described them in 1851. A limited number of elements, in a different and evolutionary way always describing a unique and common need for a place that allows us to wait for the future; to wait for tomorrow while instilling a sense of security and warmth.

Such is the description of “casa”. Home, a word Italian took wholesale from the Latin casa (where it originally referred to a hut, warranting another tip of the hat to Semper), an ancient term itself based on the Sanskrit root ska, meaning “shelter”.

It is both interesting and reassuring that one of the terms all of us hold most dear has such an intense and simple meaning. We find this same meaning in the Chinese character (jiā), where we can make out (perfectly legible even for us Westerners) the root “roof”, which today covers the terms...

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