Dualisms: A House, A Palace

The majority of our programs can be synthesized, whether public or private, in approximately 9 (±2) different types of rooms distinguished in terms of scale, proportion, materiality, position in space, degree of exposure, etc. These rooms are connected by stairs, ramps, and corridors. These connective elements occasionally become one of the rooms in the list, as it happens in cloisters, patios, or courtyards.

The similarities and differentiations between the nine rooms, the linkages and levels of accessibility, the relation with natural energy sources (the four pre-Aristotelian elements: Earth, Sun, Air, Water), and their coordination in tectonic-thermodynamic-economical/ecological terms are key to transforming the banal into the transcendental experience that we call Architecture.

This self-similarity between different programs (proliferating in almost every culture today) has driven many to consider the link between a modest house (read primitive hut) and a Palace (read monumental, institutional program). Corbusier, significantly, was deeply influenced by this belief. And it gave him the capacity to rethink links with tradition at a higher level of precision and vision than the rest of his colleagues at the time.

If we consider that human comfort is a physiological, psychological, or simply neuronal issue that is closely related to environmental parameters and thereby linked with thermodynamics , it seems not only legitimate, but necessary, to revise the simplicity of the primitive hut narratives through a concentration on the self-similarity of architectural types from the simplest to the most complex, from the private to the public, in terms that emphasize the coordination and variety (thermal, material, ornamental, tectonic, etc.) of these spaces and the techniques and innovative knowledge that facilitates architect’s design spaces congruently and consistently.

A House—A Palace is therefore, a way to trust our beliefs in program, context, character, matter, form, energy, ornament, interior, and public-private specificities from within a perspective that is radically dual—historical and technological— and thereby casts a new light on these categories and on our assumptions.