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.
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.
The exhibition Prime Case (First Houses) is the first of three exhibitions devoted the architectural work of OM Ungers, organized by the Historical Archives of the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with the Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft Cologne.
The next stages of this research project will be the next two exhibitions Programmatic Projects ( 2016) and Projects for the City ( 2017) .
14.05.2015 – 07.07.2015
h 9.30 – 17.00
Spazio Mostre Archivi Storici
Politecnico di Milano
Campus Bovisa – Ed. B9
via Durando, 10 – Milano
Curator: Stefan Vieths
News source: Politecnico di Milano
Text: translated from italian from original brochure.