The House at Capo d'Orso
248 pp., 6 x 9 in, 23 b&w illus., 18 b&w photos
- Published: May 2, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Rocks, wind, sea, and sky frame a house on the Sardinian coast, and the house frames a family's life and art, suspended in memory.
How does a house shape experience? How does architecture establish a practice of living? Architect Sebastiano Brandolini invites readers on a meditative tour of his family's house on the Sardinian coast, describing everything from the geology of the rocks beneath, to the history of the surrounding villages, to the way the shifting light measures the day. More than the story of a single summer home written by an accomplished architect, this is a study of how place, the built environment, and daily practice make up our lives, at the most minute level of detail. Recalling the essays of Walter Benjamin, Bill Bryson, Rebecca Solnit, and Lawrence Weschler, Brandolini's writing weaves literature, art history, and the transformation of Sardinia since the 1960s into a single fabric.
The House at Capo d'Orso is not only a study of architecture and life in the built environment, but of family life, and the way the Brandolini family adapted themselves to the house they built. For Sebastiano Brandolini's parents, this meant letting their house influence their work in poetry and visual art, and this book attends carefully to the way houses can guide the creative process. The wind and water of Sardinia change more than the rocks and trees; they invite the imagination itself to form new shapes.
“Certain places—or perhaps objects—in the interior of Sardinia have left such a deep impression on my mind that I cannot rid myself them, becoming obsessions that give me pleasure and prompt reflections. For us obligatory positivists of the twenty-first century, there is something enigmatic and incomprehensible about these objects. They oscillate between architecture, archeology, geology, and landscape, but do not belong to any of these categories; as soon as we think we've found a plausible classification, we are assailed by doubts and qualifications.”—from The House at Capo d'Orso
“Is it possible to fall in love with a house having never visited it? I did. In this sonnet to his parents' holiday home, Sebastiano Brandolini writes beautifully and conversationally about rooms as idea and locus, plans as dream and action, and life as 'things and incidents.' Brandolini unspools Sardinian natural and architectural history alongside his own family mythology, and lets us read the stories, swims, shadows, and winds of this special place. As with the tenants in Virginia Woolf's Haunted House, the spirits are content in the rooms, rocks, and tides. The House at Capo d'Orso is a still life, a recalibration of luxury, and reads like the retelling of a dream over breakfast.”
Leanne Shapton, author of Swimming Studies