Palladio, Holl & Associates
A Steven Holl installation forms a century-spanning partnership
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
from: Interior Design 2/1/2003 Needs Classification Needs Images Needs Approval Live Palladio, Holl & Associates Last year when he was working on his Turbulence House, a prefabricated New Mexico guest house for artist Richard Tuttle, architect Steven Holl was asked to plan his own retrospective in Vicenza, Italy. Thinking about the exhibition's venue, the Basilica Palladiana, Holl was inspired to construct a facsimile of his desert guest house within the main hall.
Last year when he was working on his Turbulence House, a prefabricated New Mexico guest house for artist Richard Tuttle, architect Steven Holl was asked to plan his own retrospective in Vicenza, Italy. Thinking about the exhibition's venue, the Basilica Palladiana, Holl was inspired to construct a facsimile of his desert guest house within the main hall. "Andrea Palladio wrapped an arcade around an existing medieval church to make a thing within a thing," Holl says of the building by Vicenza's most famous son, "So the Turbulence House becomes a thing within a thing within a thing."
Above, from top: Like all Steven Holl projects, the Turbulence House began as a watercolor. The original house features such sustainable elements as underground water cisterns and rooftop solar cells.
Bottom, from left: The house was erected over three days in the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, Italy. The aluminum frame awaits its aluminum-composite skin.
The original Turbulence House, a sustainable structure made of 32 digitally designed components, stands atop a gusty mesa and channels wind through a central tunnel. For the Vicenza show, Holl shipped a copy in parts and carefully pieced it back together. He then designed the rest of the exhibition to counterbalance the eco-friendly desert structure with the idea of the defined, contained city. As a metaphor for the latter, he mounted examples of his urban projects—mostly unbuilt—on parallel panels of fenestrated aluminum, broken at points to create radial views of the Turbulence House.
The Turbulence House's sculptural form of aluminum and aluminum composite was digitally designed, and all 32 components were prefabricated in Kansas City, Missouri. In the main hall of the Basilica Palladiana, a medieval church redesigned by Andrea Palladio in the 16th century, the house becomes a "thing within a thing within a thing," Steven Holl explains. It also offers a commentary on the relationship between built forms and the landscape.
"It's a contrast between the desert and urban density," Holl explains. "The underlying argument is about keeping as much landscape as possible—the house overlooks and protects the landscape. And then there's the city. With nothing in between." As an argument against sprawl, the installation hits upon thoroughly contemporary issues. At the same time, Holl addresses more timeless ones. Palladio is best known, after all, for country villas that elegantly resolve the relationship between buildings and their surroundings.