In the 20 x 20 House, designed by Felipe Assadi and Francisca Pulido, that Miesian maxim: “God is in the detail”, seems to resonate.
There is arguably a religious zealotry when the dimension of a ceramic tile is allowed to dictate the dimensional grid of every aspect of an entire building, producing a sort of cosmological map of the architect’s entire universe. The approach, once popular amongst minimalists, fell out of favour sometime after the point when every talentless architect on the planet used it as a justification to produce the most tedious and nauseating buildings imaginable.
Thankfully, Assadi and Pulido who worked with Trinidad Schonthaler have managed to produce an exciting architectural expression that is both crafted and creative. The architecture is developed on a 20 x 20 inches three dimensional grid that is applied to and is part of every aspect of the building. Inside and outside!
In receiving a very strict brief from the client, the architect found comparative freedom to design by imposing the even more rigid tile grid…
The idea is to create a ceramic box into which is inserted a predominantly transparent volume. It is the transparency of the glazing that primarily connects the building with its landscape, but a narrow external courtyard, open at the ends, allows a physical continuation of the landscape to pass right through the building.
In a final note to the Mies maxim referred to earlier, one might regarded his statement concerning God and the detail as a reference to his own classical architectural training. There is certainly a case to be made that Mies quoted, or interpreted, references to architectural elements said to be given by the God Hephaestus in classical Greek texts.
It is also argued that the difference between the Modernist masters such as Mies and Corbusier, and the next generations of Modernists that ran architecture aground with tedious work, was that the classical training gave an additional cultural reference that added complexity and deeper understanding to their work.
In this spirit I suggest the fact that Assadi and Pulido chose to proportion their building according to the golden section helped to elevate it beyond the purely rational.
Gratitude to Noticias Arquitectura for drawing my attention to this project.