Text di Matteo Vercelloni
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This is how Henry David Thoreau talks about his return to nature in Walden: or Life in the Woods (1854).
His famous wooden house – built by the pond, as a child might draw it – becomes the symbol and archetype of living, for occidental culture, inside the invention of a new landscape and a ‘green’ ideology based on an epic vision of the everyday world. Thoreau implicitly proposes a agrarian model of society, archaic, almost ‘ahistorical’, capable of establishing a relationship of osmosis, listening and learning with nature and landscape. He is the opposite of Robinson Crusoe, who tries to build a defensive microcosm around himself, repeating the rankings and rules of the society from which he hails. So if Crusoe’s cabin is the metaphor of a private fortress in which to seek refuge, shutting off the life outside, Thoreau opens his cabin to nature, taking part in its processes, the rhythm of the seasons, trying to find its secrets to help formulate principles of reference for a society of the essential, as opposed to the civilization of waste and appearances. These themes run through occidental landscape culture, right down to the present, as these latest projects for ‘small houses’ in nature by Matteo Thun seem to bear out in a genteel way, redesigning the elementary and essential forms of the abode of man (the stone construction with pitched roof, the patio house, the wooden cabin) in an attempt to encode a botanical architecture, to establish “a true dialogue with the cultural landscape that creates points of synergic encounter, [where] nature becomes an integral part of the design.” In the Moselle Valley, at the Longen winery, twenty small stone houses with an essential figure and spaces required for functional comfort are scattered in an orchard. Each living unit clad in slate with a wood floor has a small garden connected to the inside by means of a terrace. Guests can choose between the shady garden, the vegetable garden, the fruit orchard and the rose garden, enjoying the products and aromas in close relation to private vacation space. At the Marina di Venezia camping area, in the pine groves at the Lido, the patio house is repeated 32 times, optimizing the relationship between the spaces of the small vacation homes and the existing positioning of the pine trees, which have determined the layout of the new, cozy wooden structures. The new settlement in the greenery, paced by the essential geometrics of the living modules based on the juxtaposition of two spaces and a central court with trees, is like a sequence of wooden blocks offering the required privacy for guests without neglecting the overall design of the complex and the holistic, sustainable relationship of the architecture, which for Matteo Thun has to aim at compliance with the “3 Zeroes”: zero kilometers for supply of construction materials, zero CO2 emissions, zero refuse at the bottom line of the entire building life cycle.