la pietra – interno-esterno (1979)

there are two commonly known mantras of the international style: form follows function andornament is a crime.  modernists believed buildings could communicate their function through the materials used and the layout; ornamentation was a superfluous garnish.  certain buildings became practically androgynous with office buildings and apartments appearing seemingly the same.  it was this anonymity and repetitiveness ugo la pietra rejected in his 1979 piece interno-esterno.  the aim was to express on the facade what lies within the building, thereby creating a new mode of architectural communication.
  la pietra – interno-esterno (1979)

la pietra’s playful exploration of ornamentation as a informational signifier immediately reminded me of fat’s blue house.  these projects share a similarity in style and philosophy; both architects turn the buildings facade into a billboard denoting a certain characteristic of the building itself.  blue house’s front and side elevation utilize basic symbols of home, work, and park to indicate the program of the house.  fat principal sam jacob’s fantastic lecture at the university of kentucky illuminates many aspects of their work, but particularly the intention behind using iconography on the facade.  there is also an interesting and straightforward take on the way buildings communicate with people, summed up as another mantra – taste not space.
 fat’s blue house (2004)

informational ornamentation is a charming concept and would certainly produce amusing results when biking through a warehouse district with its mixture of lofts, work spaces, and vacant factories.  i could imagine a plaster mold of simple work benches, sweeping kitchen counters, or mice adorning the brick facades like putti on a rococo church.
enjoy the weekend.
posted by nicolas allinder