CHANGING TREASURE CHESTS: TWO CARNIC INTERIORS BY CESCHIA AND MENTIL ASSOCIATED ARCHITECTS
© alessandra chemollo
In my continuous discovery of Friuli Venezia Giulia, I have noticed a large amount of modern and contemporary architectural works of excellent quality, well-designed, well-built and well-preserved. Sensitive designers, in line with the needs of clients but faithful to a spatial and linguistic search that is attentive to the national and international debate. The leader was Gino Valle who gifted this region many projects and various “jewels” that are difficult to equal. But excluding the exceptional names, it is the general average that hits us, especially in locales where it seems unlikely that elements of contemporary architecture might be found. At the same time, travelling around Lower Friuli and several valleys, it seems evident how the process of “creating taverns” has spread everywhere, distributed around the territory with stone walls, improbable wooden beams in polystyrene, fake Tyrolean cheapjack goods and other amenities very much in fashion these days. The presence therefore of architectural works that seek to preserve harmony with the present, perhaps re-interpreting contexts and uses, seems the trace of a stubborn but necessary resistance against this globalisation of bad, backward-looking taste. That is why during my wanderings around Carnia two internal works struck me in particular. Even though they featured vastly different themes and customers, they were both built with a similar approach – that of building spaces in which ritual activities are not transformed into monuments but rather contribute to framing a “geography” that reacts to the needs of the user. The designers – the studio of Ceschia and Mentil in Venice – have revealed their origins in the attention paid to the environments and the knowledge of local customs – Federico Mentil is from Timau, a small town on the border between Friuli and Austria – and have demonstrated their mastery in the choice of materials and furnishings. In the notary studio of Tolmezzo, the fulcrum of the project is a yellow box in which the room for signing documents is collocated, around which all the other environments gravitate. The interior of this treasure chest is covered with birch plywood, with a tonality that is enhanced by light that filters from openings permitting viewing of the interior/exterior of the studio. The frosted or transparent panes regulate the gradual character of the light and privacy. In this way, space contributes to rendering the bureaucratic act friendlier, restoring a reliability that never becomes seriousness. In the restaurant in Sutrio, a room becomes a changing and multi-purpose environment through mobile wall partitions which, thanks to an ingenious play of screw knobs, guarantee different configurations according to the number of customers. A table for 14 persons, tables for two or four, projection room to host small meetings, are a few of the possible transformations. The lighting emphasises the geometry of the panels, also here in birch plywood, and by avoiding the radiating brutality of the ever-present spotlights, suggests conviviality and an elegant domesticity.
© vera bressan