These houses, from 1957-1962, show the development of a personal research which is clearly different to the positions attributed to the modern modern movement after the second world war. Architecture is understood as an autonomous art that, starting from a general concept, applying its own rules and defining specific terms, is able to formulate a complete interpretation of program and place. Architectural form, as a dialectical whole made up of spatial composition and volumetric articulation, is located at the heart of design.
“O. M. Ungers: First Houses”
23 June to 28 July 2016
Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin
Sekr. A 7, Straße des 17. Juni 152
The different character of the three works -which reflect different design strategies, such as the principle of volume addition, in the case of the Werthmannstrasse House on Cologne; or the principle of subrstraction, in the Wippenhohner Strasse house in Hennef-Sieg- not only corresponds not only to a specific interpretation of programme, but also to a almost experimental approach: the houses could be taken as different experimental researches, aimed to explore the reasons in architectural form around the dialectical dicotomy of inside-outside and space-volume.
Despite the diversity of character, the three houses put together represent the very idea of a complex and autonomous architecture, expressed in a great variety of spatial articulations, in the strong plasticity of volumetric composition and in the allusion to basic formal concepts derived from the history of architecture : the issue of the city , in the case of the Werthmannstraße house, or the issue of transformation , in the case of the Belvederestraße house.
These First Houses can be interpreted like the starting point of an uninterrupted reflection on the question of form itself, becoming into a central theme on O.M. Ungers’ works; a red line that bounds together different works with very diverse characters. It is a morphological research, as Goethe would say; a research that takes care of architectural form’s main issues, the laws of its formation and transformation -metamorphosis- and its basic phenomena: space and volume. This morphological understanding of architecture, the reference to place -especially clear in the Belvederestraße house- and the historical dimension of architecture correspond to central issues in Italy’s architectural debate after the Second World War.
In 1960 Aldo Rossi, Vittorio Gregotti and Giorgio Grassi make a trip to Cologne to learn about O.M. Ungers and his work. From this meeting, Aldo Rossi’s famous article presenting O.M.Ungers in Casabella was born. This article represents the beginning of a long series of publications, either on the german architect’s built work or on his theoretical work, that prove that, over several decades, the main protagonists of Italian critical practice developed a sort of Wahlverwandschaft -a selective affinity- for the work of O.M. Ungers.
News source: Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin
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