Although we now think spontaneously of symmetry as being the perfect replication of two sides around a central axis, originally, to cite Vitruvius, “symmetry is a proper agreement between the members of the work itself and relation between the different parts and the whole general scheme”. There is no mention of bilateral symmetry. In Greek, summetria quite simply means “proportion” or “measure”. But since ancient times, sensible to balance and stability, mankind has built edifices that adopt the rules of bilateral symmetry: pyramids, temples, cathedrals, etc., along with vases, bifaces and steles. Yet too perfect symmetry induces boredom. Emotion leaps out from imperfections, the unforeseen and discrepancies. The façade of this imposing residence reflects the tension between a quest for majesty balanced with a desire for difference and variation. The solemn construction is composed of various elements, certain of which have no architectonic function but sit alongside one another like autonomous sculptural entities. Animated by a series of voids and projections, the façade resonates with nuances ranging from grey to beige, characteristic of the natural stone.
But we have to go inside to understand the internal logic of the house. The entrance has an air of a rite of passage, we cross the Japanese stepping stones that seem to float above a flat surface of water to push open the impressive oxidised brass door, before feeling irresistibly drawn into the nerve centre of the home. An axis, a core, a cascade of light, a visual link between two glazed doors that open theatrically onto the garden. The eye rebounds between the alternation of materials, textures and reflections of the architecture in the pools; it is rather like walking through the Fondation Stampalia Querini, created by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa.
© Serge Anton