September 2010
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Day September 3, 2010

Being Profound and Seeming Profound

Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 173

Alpine Barn

Via ArchDaily, by Nico Saieh

Architects: EXiT architetti associati / Francesco Loschi, Giuseppe Pagano, Paolo Panetto
Location: Selva di Cadore, Belluno, Italy
Project Manager: Francesco Loschi
Structural Engineering: Alberto Soligo
Technical Plan Design: Mauro Benozzi
Project Area: 220 sqm
Project Year: 2008-2010
Photographs: Teresa Cos

In the Italian Alps, barns vary from region to region in their form, materials and structure. In the Cadore which is located in the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alpine barns are built from wood and stone. The ground floors in such barns were typically used as stables and the upper floors as haylofts.

The starting point was the careful removal of wooden elements and structural joints. After the building had been dismounted, many wooden beams and boards were cleaned and restored whilst others were replaced with treated wood in order to maintain the chromatic continuity of the material before being remounted. From a volumetric perspective, some annexes that limited the original volume were removed and only essential ones were maintained and integrated in a discreet fashion.

The new exposed black steel structure respects the modular geometry of the barn and lends itself with the original wooden structure. A few steel beams are covered with wood. The building is totally energy self-sufficient thanks to a photovoltaic system integrated within the roof which is made of larch. It also generates zero emissions thanks to an electric under-floor heating system.

Great attention was given to: the selection of materials (larch and fir wood, Dolomia stone, black steel, white rough plaster), their interaction and light entering from the windows. Every ambiance in the house is characterised by an accurate weaving of these five materials that creates a balanced and integrated system in each room.

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Articles of Faith

If there is a consistent thread throughout this book, and indeed Kwinter’s entire intellectual output, it is a fear of the remorseless routinization and rationalization of modern life. Surveying and probing the contemporary urban environment in order to reveal where and how its generating forces might be engaged and redirected, abstaining from positivist, empirical research in favor of a kind of abstract anthropology, he implicitly rebukes the bad faith of those architects who present their designs as irrefutable outcomes of statistical analyses and external exigencies. At the same time, he cautions against the blind faith in the voodoo of self-organization that purports to nurture the inherent vitality of cities, yet so often enables the animation of unwelcome zombies (whether the insidious injustices of laissez-faire economic development or the spontaneous formation of slums). Perhaps it is not so much that Kwinter believes the city has died, but that inattention or complacency is causing plausible, preferable alternatives to remain forever unborn, shimmering in virtual limbo at exponentially increasing distances along the paths not taken.

Thomas Daniell, Introduction to Requiem for the City at the End of the Millennium, by Sanford Kwinter


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