Aegean House and Atelier
Office Tornavida Design Type Concept · Theory Size 150 m² Year 2008‑2014
This one-bedroom house and workshop in an olive grove along the Aegean coast of Turkey is comprised of staggered, parallel walls set into the side of a hill. But unlike the walls of Mies van der Rohe's cerebral brick house which extend into the infinity of space, these are fortuitous rock outcroppings that incidentally provide some shelter to those who seek sanctuary among them.
The intent of the design is not to establish a connection to nature, as the houses of Johnson and Souto de Moura in New Canaan and Moledo, respectively, are designed to do. Rather, it questions the dichotomy of interior and exterior itself. Accordingly, the spaces are defined by the relative sense of enclosure among the walls rather than by the geometric volumes bounded by them. The house has no façade, and the elevations likewise have no fenestration.
A modular grid defines the proportions in both plan and section. Served and servant spaces are articulated structurally, the latter between a series of short parallel walls along the hall. But in fact, the entire complex is conceived as a utilitarian core – a happenstance attendant space for the landscape in which it sits. The interior spaces are compact and tightly programmed, with the idea in mind that they serve specific, limited functions, but that ultimately life is elsewhere.
This turns the routine critique of Jeanneret’s proposition that «une maison est une machine-à-habiter» on end. It is not the implicit behaviorism and the mad enthusiasm for the machine but rather the notion that a house is a container for life that is alienating. Contemporary life has mechanical accoutrements, and there is no reason the experience of the technical aspects of day-to-day life should not fall within the realm of the aesthetic. But they are still a means to an end. Real life takes place in relational rather than physical space, or – in the words of Buber – „in the Between (im Dazwischen), the seemingly empty space … between man and man.“