Continuing our series where we ask our favorite architects and designers about the three buildings that most inspire and impress them, we turn to Erich Schoenenberger of su11 architecture + design. Schoenenberger most recently impressed us with his and his partner Ferda Kolatan's design for a 620-square-foot apartment in New York City for a family of four, which appeared in our March 2011 issue and featured a serpentine floor-to-ceiling wall of laminate cabinets.
Asked to pick his three favorite structures, he globe-hopped from Mexico to Spain to Italy—where he raved about a most popular structure, the Casa Malaparte, also selected by Page Goolrick for her "Three Buildings" list. Reflecting on what these three buildings have in common, he said: "Sagrada Familia and the Lautner house share a dynamic space experience; the Lautner house and Casa Malaparte both have a great interrelationship of building and landscape/views." See below for more about each...
Acapulco, Mexico, John Lautner, 1973
"American Architect John Lautner designed the vast Casa Marbrisa for the Mexican supermarket magnate Jeronimo Arango; it was built in Acapulco in 1973. At 25,000 square feet it is perhaps not surprising that space is one of the most impressive features of this structure, but I am most impressed by the spaces between the curvilinear water channels in the building’s concrete slabs which frame the formidable views of the ocean. And, similarly, there are the spaces between the interior and exterior of the house and between the integrated furniture inside and the vastness of the distant views outside. In both cases the transition from one space to the other is fluid and intuitive. Finally, I love the way in which the dynamic lines formed by the structure’s vertical levels and horizontal lengths communicate a sense of a singular, enclosed space and, at the very same time, a sense of infinite spaces."
The Basilica of Sagrada Familia
Barcelona, Spain, Antoni Gaudi, 1883
"Gaudi began the design process for the Sagrada Familia in 1884, making this the oldest of my three buildings, and yet there is a distinctly contemporary feel about this structure. The Sagrada Familia’s incompleteness might account for a good deal of the mythic appeal it holds; however, I am taken by the elaborate and balanced interplay between structure, space and form—where the result is so beautiful one cannot help but surrender his gaze to the breathtaking flow and upward motion of the design. In my view, this most unique of buildings is truly one of the preeminent timeless beauties in the architectural world."
Capri, Italy, Alberto Libera, 1937
"Casa Malaparte, a villa in Capri, was originally designed by the architect Alberto Libera, but its owner Curzio Suckert (known as Malaparte) largely rejected the design and opted to build the home himself with a local stone mason, Adolfo Amitrano. A rationalist, Malaparte characterized the structure as a “sad, hard, severe House”—congruently, these were the features of the world that he most loved as well. I love the overly defined shape of this building and the way its smooth, material-less surfaces are contrasted against the rough, rocky outcropping where it is set. The grand staircase on the top delimits the slope of the roof and gives the whole shape of the building a monolithic quality. In this vein, Italian architect and critic Manfredo Tafurian fittingly, and I think compellingly, said that the Casa Malaparte appears as an 'archaic barge grounded between the rocks.'"