In the tradition of Hadrian’s villa, the villa Giulia, and Madama, the House of the Tetrarchs is a political withdrawal into nature, fortified within the geometry of an urban ideal on the periphery of an unruly city.
Four spiralling compounds are connected at their centre at a recessed geometric grotto, and each face out towards the horizon in a different direction across the Roman campagna from four large, pavilion-topped ramps.
The three Presidents of Italy, of the Republic, the Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Prime Minister -the contemporary Tetrarchy- find bureaucratic respite and seclusion within the walls of each of these four dwellings, which are together grounded in a specifically formal notion of architectural continuity.
The House is located on a promontory next to Il Corviale, a kilometrelong social housing project from the 1970s, a masterpiece in concrete, a miracle of repetition, of grand vision, and ultimately, of failure.
The Corviale is relentlessly grey, and linear. The house of the Tetrarchs is eye-gougingly colourful, and endlessly involuted.
An efflorescence of monumentality and polychromous pomp, in an age of political retreat.
House of the Tetrarchs was a commission for the design of 'a house in the Roman countryside', part of the exhibition "Re-constructivist Architecture" at the Ierimonti Gallery in New York City 2016-17, curated by Jacopo Costanzo and Giovanni Cozzani, and the lecture series "A Call From Rome" at the Casa dell'Architettura in Rome 2016-17, curated by Jacopo Costanzo. The project was shown alongside designs by Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, Point Supreme, Something Fantastic, Warehouse of Architecture & Research, and others.
In the curators' words:
"Ierimonti Gallery New York is pleased to present Re-Constructivist Architecture, curated by Jacopo Costanzo and Giovanni Cozzani and promoted by the Scientific Technical Committee of Casa dell'Architettura in collaboration with Consulta Giovani Architetti Roma.
The exhibition will feature the work of thirteen international emerging architecture firms, aiming to portrait a generation of architects born in the 80s: a countertrend that tries to recover a debate lost years ago and obstructed by a cumbersome star system. Their theoretical, critical and historical approach attempts to rediscover a thoughtful dimension behind the architectural subject. Each firm will present a residential project in the Roman countryside, a design exercise meant as a typological investigation, or, more generally, as a meditation on the autonomy of the architectural discipline. What will remain are thirteen projects for thirteen houses in the Roman countryside, thirteen gifts to the city of Rome.Involving some of the architects who participated to the 1988 MoMA's show 'Deconstructivist Architecture' through their drawings and short essays, the exhibition is attempting to generate a debate between two generation of architects: one who destabilized a certain kind of relationship with design theory, and a new one, wishing to get back on an almost forgotten path."
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