Perugia || Italy
The winery at the Castelbuono Estate at Bevagna in a hilly part of Umbria is a striking marriage of sculpture and architecture. It is clear the building was designed to be appealing and memorable. The original idea came from the sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, with the architectural solutions by the Giorgio e Luca Pedrotti architectural practice. The design phase, combined with specific instructions about still life effects, installations and lighting, manifest evident sensitivity and skill. The underlying idea could be reduced to a desire to create an elegant architectural sculpture to accompany the rites involved in winemaking and tasting. It embodies both symbolic values and concrete winemaking values, producing an edifice that also represents a continuation of tradition and sensitivity to civilisation.
The meeting of sculpture and
architecture has significant consequences. It is evident the building's shape makes a biological allusion to a carapace or the upper part of a turtle shell. This in itself would be filled with meaning, referring to an archetypal element of the natural world and evolution, but it also goes beyond this, into the realm of metaphor and similitude. Antiquity, naturalness, artificiality, the expansion or termination of evolutionary time and the formal parallels with the silhouette of the hills are just some of the possible connections. Yet, all these elements make clear that technique is required to bring shape - and thus life - to this union of art and architecture.
The carapace is actually turned into structures, spaces, sculptures and materials. The elliptical plan is continuous, but divided into sections by the elements in the intrados
of the ceiling. The built-in lighting helps not only to make the structure more expressive, but also to amplify the use of materials. The large, longitudinal rib running across the centre of the carapace is the "bony" dorsal, visible both inside and outside. The twelve half arches on which the glulam dome rests divide up the space under the dome. Looming in the intrados of the vault are "sculpted scales" that jut out, with the sharp lines foregrounded by the use of built-in lighting. The large glazed sections, with no vertical frames, are not only a notable technical achievement, but also allow captivating views of the surrounding landscape.
The space in the middle of the ground floor is designed for welcoming visitors and tasting wines. Curved shapes made of bright red laminated panels furnish the space in a way that accompanies
the reinforced concrete spiral staircase leading to the lower floor and the barrel cellar. The choice to lay the barrels out in concentric circles provides another touch for enthusiasts of wine culture, as a fine, solid "table" is an essential element in the tasting rite.
The external side of the roof also has meaningful elements. The copper sheets, created using an electrolytic process based on fiberglass structures made by Arnaldo Pomodoro, are attached onto the exterior insulation using crimped seams. The roof also helps to form the landscape, with the copper sheets overlapping on a series of jagged fractures to create the effect of warped metal over of a gap. The depth of the irregular metal sections contrasts with the orderly pattern of the metal sheets, creating a break with earthly undertones. It is a sign of how time
makes its mark, providing another layer in this work of sculpture and architecture.
On the north side of the dome stands a large red arrow. This clear-cut shape scythes through the air and the land, engraving the landscape and redefining it through art.
Location: Bevagna, Perugia
Client: Cantine Ferrari
Gross Floor Area:
Architects: Studio Pedrotti – Giorgio and Luca Pedrotti
Art Direction: Arnaldo Pomodoro
Detailed Designs of Glulam Structures: Holz Albertani
Works Management: Studio Pedrotti – Giorgio and Luca Pedrotti
Contractor: Impresa Giomarelli
Structural: Fausto Rossi
Plant: Unitec Group
Lighting: Barbara Balestreri
Landscaping: Ermanno Casasco
Curved Glass: Viraver Technology
Curved Door and Window Frames: Baesso
Glulam Structures: Holz Albertani
Copper Sheeting: Elettroformature Venete
Photo by: © Antonia Mulas
Giorgio Pedrotti (Trento, 1941) graduated from Florence University in 1968 after studying under Leonardo Savioli, Leonardo Ricci and Giovanni Michelucci. In the same year, he set up a firm.
After graduation, Pedrotti spent time with Alvar Aalto’s studio, where he was involved in all this firm’s private builds in Finland. In America in 1969, he met Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolph, who introduced him to the design and construction practices of the foremost American firms.
In a career spanning 40 years, he has completed numerous new builds, renovations, furniture designs and urban planning projects. In 2006, his firm, which employs external consultants for specialized projects, was joined by his son, Luca.
The firm currently has projects in progress for Gruppo Lunelli in Podernovo (Tuscany) and Umbria.
Arnaldo Pomodoro was born in 1926 in Montefeltro, and spent his childhood and young adult life in Pesaro. In 1954, he moved to Milan, where he became involved in that city’s vibrant avant-garde scene, associating with the intellectuals of the day, including Alfonso Gatto, Leonardo Sinisgalli, Ettore Sottsass and Fernanda Pivano, and artists such as Lucio Fontana, Gio Ponti, Bruno Munari, Ugo Mulas and Enrico Baj.
He created his first jewellery in cuttlefish, which he later exhibited at a number of Milan Triennial exhibitions. His relief work revealed a unique and unprecedented approach to sculpture, which was interpreted in various ways by the leading critics of the day.
In the early sixties, Pomodoro began investigating the three-dimensional, focusing in particular on solid geometric forms. Sculpted in polished bronze, his spheres, discs, pyramids, cones, columns and cubes from this period are ripped open, corroded and dug out with the intention of shattering their perfection and uncovering the mystery hidden within. From this point on, this contrast between the polished perfection of geometric forms and the chaotic complexity of their interiors became a constant feature of Pomodoro’s work.
In 1966, he was commissioned to create a three-and-a-half metre sphere for the Montreal Expo. The work, now on display in front of the Foreign Ministry building in Rome, marks his transition to monumental sculpture. It is also the first in a series of works now on display in public spaces of great beauty and symbolic importance around the world, including the Vatican Museums’ Cortile della Pigna, United Nations Plaza in New York, UNESCO in Paris, and in the squares of cities such as Copenhagen, Brisbane, Los Angeles and Darmstadt.
In 1995, the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation was founded to document the artist’s work and to promote art, particularly the work of young artists.
In 2002, Pomodoro created an enormous radiant crown over a crucifix by Giuseppe Maraniello in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and, in 2003, the cross and altar for the Padre Pio Liturgical Hall in San Giovanni Rotondo, designed by Renzo Piano. In 2004, after years of complex work, the sculpture Novecento (Twentieth century), commissioned to mark the beginning of the new millennium, was sited in Rome EUR.
Beginning with his design proposal for the Urbino cemetery in 1973, an underground building that was never completed following local opposition, his important works of an architectural nature include: Moto terreno solare (Earthly solar motion), a wall sculpture in concrete for the Simposia di Minoa in Marsala; The Battle in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan; the installation Ingresso nel labirinto (Entering the labyrinth), dedicated to the ancient epic poem Gilgamesh, completed in 2011; and Carapace, a wine cellar for the Lunelli family vineyards in Bevagna.
The important retrospective exhibitions that have confirmed Pomodoro’s place as one of the today’s most important contemporary artists include: Rotonda della Besana (Milan, 1974), Forte del Belvedere (Florence, 1984), Rocca Malatestiana (Cesena, 1995), Fortezza di San Leo (1997), La Llonja gallery (Palma de Mallorca, 1999), Reggia di Caserta (2000), Jardins du Palais Royal (Paris, 2002), Lugano city centre (2004), and a sculpture exhibition along the walls of the Paestum archaeological zone (summer 2005). Touring exhibitions of his works have taken place at museums in the United States (including at University Art Museum in Berkeley, California, 1970–71, and the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, 1983–85), Europe, Australia and Japan (presented in 1994–95 at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Kanagawa).
In 2008, a retrospective featuring a selection of his monumental sculptures from the seventies to the present was held at the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation building. In 2010, Grande Portale (Great gate), a bronze sculpture measuring 12 meters in height and 10 meters in width, was exhibited at the front of the Italian Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. In 2011, the Marlborough Chelsea Gallery in New York displayed his most recent works.
Pomodoro has also lectured at prestigious American universities and is constantly active in the area of set design. Most recently he designed the sets for Fabio Vacchi’s Teneke (which premiered at Teatro alla Scala in 2007, directed by Ermanno Olmi and conducted by Roberto Abbado), and a program of two operas, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Janá?ek’s Šárka, at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in 2009 (directed by Ermanno Olmi and conducted by Bruno Bartoletti).
Arnaldo Pomodoro has received numerous important awards, including at San Paolo, 1963, and Venice, 1964. He was among the Carnegie Institute’s six international prize winners in 1967 (with Josef Albers, Francis Bacon, Joan Miró, Eduardo Paolozzi and Victor Vasarely) and received the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture in Tokyo in 1990 (with Leonard Bernstein for music, Federico Fellini for film and theatre, James Stirling for architecture and, Antoni Tàpies for painting). His work in theatre has been recognized by the Premi Ubu for best set design for The Death of Cleopatra by Ahmad Shawqi and The Screens by Jean Genet, both in 1990, and, in 1992, for In the Solitude of Cotton Fields by Bernard-Marie Koltès.
He has received two honorary degrees and awards of merit from the Italian Republic.
A rich selection of books have been devoted to his life and work, including L’arte lunga (Feltrinelli 1992), Arnaldo Pomodoro (Fabbri 1995), and Scritti critici per Arnaldo Pomodoro e opere dell’artista (1955–2000) (Lupetti 2000). In 2007, Skira published Catalogo ragionato della scultura, edited by Flaminio Gualdoni. A book is currently being prepared featuring the artists’ set designs from 1972 to the present.