“The Neuendorf House takes the person through a series of experiences. The house has an introduction – a slow drawn-out crescendo. It has a moment of transition – an instant when mounting anticipation is replaced with trepidation, a change of key. Through the transition the mood changes – movement along a clear direction is replaced with relative stasis in a courtyard, it slows, uncertain, trying to find a centre. The climax, which projects the mind into the far distance, is a moment of revelation. Experiencing the house is the spatial equivalent of a passage of music.”

Simon Unwin

(In: Simon Unwin: Twenty-five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand. New York: Routledge, 2015)

A lean, geometric, architectural configuration rising out of the rugged, reddish terrain of southern Majorca, THE NEUENDORF HOUSE is the first full architectural project by John Pawson and Claudio Silvestrin. The design explores ways of achieving a quality of proportion in outside space more usually associated with interiors. The composition of the atrium is emphatically vertical, the exaggerated height of the walls dramatised by the narrowness of the slot opening. As the design brings together certain conventions of interior and exterior spaces, so it plays with the opposition of raw nature and the formality of architecture, pigments from the soil being used to tint the render. The architects’ complete work is comprising a 600 m² villa with courtyard, swimming pool, sunken tennis court and landscaping. The work stands like a strong medieval castle, achieving harmony with its surroundings through the use of natural materials.

JOHN PAWSON has spent over thirty years making rigorously simple architecture that speaks of the fundamentals but is also modest in character. His body of work spans a broad range of scales and typologies, from private houses, sacred commissions, galleries, museums, hotels, ballet sets, yacht interiors and a bridge across a lake. As Alvar Aalto’s bronze door handle has been characterised as the ‘handshake of a building’, so a sense of engaging with the essence of a philosophy of space through everything the eye sees or the hand touches is a defining aspect of Pawson’s work. His method is to approach buildings and design commissions in precisely the same manner, on the basis that ‘it’s all architecture’. Whether at the scale of a monastery, a house, a saucepan or a ballet, everything is traceable back to a consistent set of preoccupations with mass, volume, surface, proportion, junction, geometry, repetition, light and ritual. In this way, even something as modest as a fork can become a vehicle for much broader ideas about how we live and what we value.

CLAUDIO SILVESTRIN studied in Milan in A.G. Fronzoni school, later in London where he works nowadays, at the Architectural Association. His work deals with day to day objects, domestic and commercial interiors, art galleries and houses. Clients include Giorgio Armani, Illycaffe, Anish Kapoor, Calvin Klein, Cappellini, Poltrona Frau, Kanye West and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo for whom he has designed the museum in Turin. A book about his work has been written by Franco Bertoni and published by Birkhauser. His way of working, severe but not extreme, contemporary but timeless, researchs a minimalism that is not a style, but a way of being, a strong reaction against noise and disorder. His work is noble and paesant, intellectual and silent, careful about perfect details. Claudio Silvestrin’s integrity, clarity of mind, inventiveness and concern for details is reflected in his rigorous minimal architecture: austere but not extreme, contemporary yet timeless, calming but not ascetic, strong but not intimidating, elegant but not ostentatious.

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