Giuseppe Terragni

Danteum     Rome

1   b

Palace of Ottopia   2305

...the Danteum brings a unique twist to the architectural promenade "formula"... ...which now also include Piranesi and Dante's Divine Comedy.

...an "architectural promenade" analysis of the Divine Comedy...

architectural promenade
The Danteum adds the element of a journey from the profane to the sacred, and this addition significantly opens up the interpretive field and the buildings that can now be included as exhibiting the architectural promenade formula. ...[the] culmination to the triumphal procession is analogous to the Paradiso of the Danteum, and to the solarium of the Villa Savoye (etc.). ...wonder if the formula can be found in Dante's Divine Comedy? ...a very compacted version of the forest, hell, purgatory (inside/outside), and paradise.

gallery 1999 - the Otto Houses
After experimenting a little with the Danteum plan (plus the morphed Wall House 2), I began to think of the resultant "crazy" plan as a house for Otto.

letters from/to India     3123c

...the Danteum too follows the same promenade architecturale formula, and it is through the Danteum that the promenade architecturale can be said to represent a transcendence from profane to sacred. Comparing the Danteum with the Villa Savoye -- the forest is the grid of pilotis; the inferno is the ground floor complete with sink (profane/plumbing); purgatory is the halfway :: limbo :: inside/outside; paradiso is the solarium.

I did not know that Le Corbusier curated an exhibit on Terragni. I am only aware that Villa Savoye dates 1929 and the Danteum dates 1938. In terms of the promenade bifurcating, take note of the ramp at Le Corbusier's Palais des Congrès, it too bifurcates, but the important issue (for me at least) is the transition from inside to outside, and, of course, the continual rising which is found in (so far) Savoye, the Danteum, and the Palais des Congrès.

I see the point along the promenade architecturale [in Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye and his Palais des Congrès] where there is both outside and inside as precisely the same as Terragni's representation of Purgatory within the Danteum -- the room that manifests equal measures of inside and outside. ...in Catholic school, Purgatory was often described as 'limbo' -- essentially being there and not there at the same time. The notion of limbo basically differs, however, from the notion of purgation. Although Purgatory gets its name because that is where purging (of the profane from the sacred) occurs. This notion of separation also relates directly to the notion bifurcation that you related to the heart of the Villa Savoye. The notion of limbo also describes the inside/outside ramp situation of the Palais des Congrès -- not only is the ramp 'suspended' (in limbo) outside the main building block, moreover, half way up the ramp, it changes from an interior ramp to an exterior ramp.
Being now in limbo (at the half-way point), however, we have the opportunity to venture/explore within both the profane and sacred realms.

Limbo is another name that catholic teaching gives to purgatory.
In Catholic theology, purgatory is where some souls go before they are allowed to enter heaven--the souls there do not deserve hell/inferno, but they don't exactly deserve heaven/paradiso yet either, hence they are in limbo.
Some other dictionary definitions:
...the souls of unbaptized infants are in limbo
a place or state of restraint or confinement
a place or state of neglect or oblivion
an intermediate or transitional place or state; a middle ground
In Terragni's Danteum, Purgatory is designed as a "room" that is both (equally?) inside and outside -- the transitional place. Supposedly, this is to have an uneasy effect, being neither inside or outside, but I think you can look at it positively as well, being both inside and outside (the center of the Villa Savoye is a perfect (positive) example.)

the formula in words
...the same promenade architecturale formula with Terragni's Danteum, and here the formula is even more clear, both symbolically and formally--first the forest, then the dark concentrated interior of the Inferno, then the inside-outside realm of Purgatory (limbo), and finally Heaven with its invisible columns and invisible roof. Again, an ongoing passage of ascent leading to an ultimate goal.

more on language
I just thought of another example where architecture is used as a language to express a narrative, and this one is a building design rather than a composition of plans, namely Terragni's Danteum, where each of the major spaces in the building correspond to the major places within Dante's Divine Comedy: forest, inferno, purgatory, paradiso. Terrangi's design is not exactly what I would call metaphorical either because the forms and spatiality of the design are quite clever architectural abstractions of Dante's written texts rather than scenographic allusions to the text, and, moreover, the building would deliver its message even independent of Dante's text.

Language & Voice
A "perceptually effective sequence" is something that an architect can intentionally design. Le Corbusier did it at the Villa Savoye, which is "understandable" without referencing any literary source. Le Corbusier also did it within the Palais des Congrès (1964), Terragni did it within the Danteum (1936?), and James Stirling did it within the Museum for Nordrhine-Westfalen (1977) and within the Wallraf-Richartz Museum (1977). Sadly, none of these buildings was ever executed, hence their designs are not prominent examples within architectural history. It was precisely because of the sequences within these designs however, that prompted me to create computer models of these buildings (in the early 1990s). I also wrote several articles and essay on the "promenade architecturale" which were published at www.quondam.com (but are no longer online). My point now is that had these buildings been built, just maybe there might now be a far better understanding (and hence better teaching) of just how effective a deliberately designed architectural sequence can be.
Granted, any architect designed "preferred route" can be misunderstood or even ignored by a building's user, but that shouldn't prevent architects from at least trying to add "architectural language" to how a building is moved through.
What I find most interesting about designing architectural sequence is that the sequence itself is not actual form, rather the gaps between actual forms. For me, it's another example of learning from lacunae.

Ottopian House I

2004.01.19 14:51
Tschumi's renderings
What I see as most unfortunate is that a design (which owns as much to Terrangni's Danteum as it does to Mies) to house/display revered ancient artifacts is really no different in effect than a design to house/display Prada artifacts. I suppose this is all a lesson on how to now architecturally treat "very valuable" things.

2006.04.01 17:37
Why does much 'avant-garde' design these days look straight out of the Sixties?
House for Otto 3, 1999
Danteum wo bist du?

2006.05.16 14:04
The Planless House
Wall House 2 and Danteum and a little bit of Villa Massimo and a little little bit of me. Palace of Ottopia

2011.12.07 12:24
Frank Gehry
...you are correct, I do not mean "pliability/pliancy only in literal surface-curving manner," but more of a "yielding readily" (like the varying aspects of the plan of the Wagner House which is on a sloped site). Perhaps it is uncannily (or even appropriately) ironic that the Venturi and Rauch peeling wall detail yields from an actual bending wall.
I (re)read about 75% of Lynn's essay last night, and there one sees "the pliant" more in the sense of literal bending and folding, plus also more in concert with suppleness and smoothness--although here too Gehry's architecture is most often used as example. (I feel my reading last night suffered a bit due to no illustrations accompanying this latest version of the essay.)
...the pliancy of the Palace of Ottopia (2305) is more a demonstration of the drawing pliancy that "laissez-faire" CAD manipulation allows. Yes, the Danteum is there, but so is Hejduk's Bye House, a bit of Perruzzi's Palazzo Massimo and a little bit of myself. (There are several animations of how the design came together which I'll again upload.) Also, the gemmating Danteum plans allude to Eisenman (Aronoff).
Interestingly, within the studies for the palace of Ottopia, (7683) there are some (pliant CAD) manipulations of Gehry's Wagner House-- image --which eventually became House for Otto 4. [image]




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