© valerio olgiati, Villa Alé m, Alentejo 2014.
Villa, from a historical point of view, means detachment from the city, usualy to the countryside, in the center of a vast domain, a place from where a landlord could oversee and control the vicinity.
Besides the physical autonomy of a villa, a house with no contextual constraints, there is also a particular idiosyncrasy coming from the owner’s needs. Consequently, despite its rich growth in time, the concept of a villa could be deemed as an unhistorical concept, being understood without any references.
Before the construction of the villa, the site does not exist; it does so only as an immeasurable anonymous field. In this spatial uniformity, dwelling is a necessary disruption. Proximity follows only after the act of building. The site emerges.
The only reference point for the villa is the villa itself, so, arching inward becomes mandatory. Collapsing in on itself, the villa becomes the expression of (the deepest) human need for isolation, for inward reflection. For instance, Palladio achieved this improbable concentration of great mass, unfathomable weight, into one central point by making four identical façades.
Villa Além is unfamilliar, quite peculiar and foremost timeless. One might be inclined to confuse it with an ancient temple. This difficulty of placing it in an epoch does not occur because of pure geometry or because of the earthy, rough material. It occurs from the plan itself. The plan of
Villa Além is an abstract representation of the villa’s universal concept.
Somewhere, on dusry ground, between the old cork oaks in Alentejo, we bump into a foreign object.
The invisible hollow contained within four walls seems to have an immense pressure, such as the whole atmosphere being compressed into a 20x35 meters courtyard. A pressure vessel has no cracks. Even if the garden has four big horizontal openings, two for each of its axis, the air inside seems to be so thick that no particle is able to escape. One’s gaze is not oriented toward something, everything around is the same, there is nothing to look at.
Inside one of these four openings there is a room. A slit into one of its walls ushers you through a long, thin fissure, a tenebrous path.
Eduard Untaru graduated from UAUIM Bucharest receiving Best Diploma Award 2022 for ZCP 76 - Mihai Vodă. Since 2019 he works as an architect at STARH and a teaching assistant in Andrei Șerbescu’s studio at UAUIM. Eduard is the curator of cryptic-k, a raw, dense, and incomplete architecture archive, along with Roberta Frumușelu.