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Minimalist Architecture
By Franco Bertoni

November 11, 2002 /
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Leaving aside present-day misuse and the inflation of the term, Minimalist architecture represents one of the most significant contributions to a review of a discipline, and an attempt to endow it with new foundations, and a way of life./Franco Bertoni

The work of Luis Barrag‡n, AG Fronzoni, Claudio Silvestrin, John Pawson, Peter Zumthor, Alberto Campo Baeza, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Tadao Ando and Michael Gabellini reveals common elements and, at the same time, radical differences.  The idea of simplicity is interpreted in very diverse ways using a variety of expressive media, thereby confirming the endless possibilities still offered by research based on historical examples.
 
Photo-2.jpgPhoto: Mitsuo Matsuka
Tadao Ando
Azuma House, Osaka 1975

This small house was the point of departure for my subsequent work.  It is a memorable building for me, one of which I am very fond./Tadao Ando

Photo-3.jpgPhoto copyright Barrag‡n Foundation Switzerland
Luis Barragán
Master Plan for Los Clubes, Service Entrance, Mexico City 1968

In the gardens and homes I have designed, I have always tried to allow for the interior placid murmur of silence, and in my fountains, silence sings./Luis Barrag‡n 

The term Minimalism was coined, above all, as a means of describing in laudatory terms, or in a reductive and strongly critical manner, the works by protagonists of the American scene in the late Fifties and Sixties.

In the field of architecture, the term Minimalism was used, at times with caution and at others with determination, to connote the works of architects from profoundly different origins and cultural backgrounds, who had based their own work on a reduction in expressive media, a rediscovery of the value of empty space and a radical elimination of everything that does not coincide with a programme, also with minimalistic design overtones, of extreme simplicity and formal cleanliness.  

Photo-4.jpg Photo: Helene Binet
Peter Zumthor
Thermal Bath, Canton of Graubänden, 1990-96

It has been many years since a building has expressed such an external sense of peace with so much harmony./Francois Chaslin

Photo-5.jpgPhoto courtesy Alberto Campo Baeza
Alberto Campo Baeza
De Blas House, Madrid 2000

Gravity builds space, light builds time, and gives reason to time. These are the central questions of architecture: control of gravity and dialogue with light./Alberto Campo Baeza

photo-6.jpgPhoto: Aldo Ballo
AG Fronzoni
Pernigotti Apartment, Milano 1978

Photo-7.jpgPhoto courtesy Claudio Silvestrin
Claudio Silvestrin
Neuemdorf House, Mallorca 1989

Photo-8.jpg Photo: Fi McGhee
John Pawson
Tilty Barn, Tilty Hill, Essex 1996

Emptiness allows us to see space as it is, to see architecture as it is, preventing it from being corrupted, or hidden, by the incidental debris of paraphernalia of every day life./John Pawson

Photo-9.jpgPhoto courtesy Eduardo Souto de Moura
Eduardo Souto de Moura
Alcanena House, Torres Novas, 1987-92

Having initially been a reaction to the nightmare of the supermarket and excess, in its architectural form Minimalism is now finding goals that go further than the pure, simple motive of denunciation and instead move towards concrete attempts, albeit thinly scattered over time and space and in modest quantities, to introduce a life more imbued with spirituality, clarity and harmony.

Photo-10.jpgPhoto: Paul Warchol
Michael Gabellini
Nicole Farhi Boutique, new York, 1999

Many people think that Minimalist art or architecture is something cold, abstract and sterile.  Instead Minimalism is not only art or architecture, actually is is an idea that does not elude existence.  It is analoguous to the editing of a film, where there is an enherent concentration of form and experience.  More than a subtraction, Minimalism is an inherent concentration of experience and pleasure./Michael Gabellini

This important book, with 9 Monographical Sketches and a superb introduction by Franco Bertoni, aims to highlight the most original contributions to the idea of simplicity, a concept that has been so extensively and incisively expressed in the field of architecture that it has become one of the key trends attracting the attention of critics and general public alike, above all in the last two decades of the twenties century.

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Publisher: Birkhäuser

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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