“Notes for a phenomenology or physiology of the deepest, most authentic kitsch? A far cry from the urban guttings of Paris and Rome in the 1800s and 1900s, or the demolition of historic walls in Milan and Florence. The hundreds of gigantic constructed monsters that have destroyed the historical center of Beijing, imposing a humiliating contrast between scary skyscrapers and decaying hovels, prompt the curiosity of anguish.
How is it possible for trained human minds to invent such atrocious visual forms, with entrances and interiors to structures so tangled, so slovenly in their brashness, as to produce images of a thousand compromised mishaps, speculative impracticalities? There must have been drawings and projects, after all. Yet it seems impossible that there was any thinking behind the mess.”
This scathing critique of gigantic Chinese urban growth came from Alberto Arbasino, when he began his correspondence from Beijing in the late 1990s. The path of growth, and the ‘monsters,’ were quite different in Taiwan, but the two places share a sort of unbridled eclecticism and an emphasis on figurative ‘performance’ and apparent opulence, in an endless competition in which more is more. This can also be seen in the big cities of Taiwan, like the capital Taipei, or like Taichung, an industrial city on the west coast of the island.
It must not have been easy for Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel to come to grips with a context composed of towers of various heights, ranging from anonymous global modernism to solutions brandishing Art Deco tops, classical cupolas, oriental interpretations of the curtain wall. In such a cityscape the presence of a linear public park in front of the lot became the key with which to shape an idea for an exclusive residential building facing towards nature, taken as the “urban setting of reference” (Patricia Viel).
The building is composed of three towering stone blades for a height of 160 meters, with a rhomboid pattern that is a “tribute to the Milanese tradition of great architects,” Antonio Citterio says. Gio Ponti, Piero Portaluppi and Luigi Caccia Dominioni were architects “who thought of the interiors as integral parts of the building, a habit that has since been lost” (Citterio).
While the Treasure Garden in Taiwan springs from the rhomboid motif of the facades, almost as if to protect the internal spaces from the adjacent buildings, the external texture becomes a reference for the definition of the image of the interiors, substantially the protagonists of the whole project.
From the hall on ground level, a sort of covered plaza permeable to nature that defines its backdrops (the linear public park in front and the small garden to the rear), to the communal spaces (Club Lounge, SPA, swimming pool and restaurants), to the individual apartments conceived as stacked villas, it is possible to observe a focus on interior design with a constant, unerring drive towards quality. This quality takes the form of complete, carefully balanced spaces, materials and colors, the use of natural light captured by large glazings alternating with stone, but also the quality of artificial light from custom fixtures.
A quality where the selection of the furnishings – custom or catalogue – contributes to the definition of a compositional itinerary in which the architectural design is closely connected to and generated by an idea of its interiors and an orchestration uses and paths of circulation. As in the serial sequence of entering from the street, ascending to the apartment and perceiving the immersion in private space. An alternation between ‘public’ and necessarily private dimensions, all in a context of extreme care and precision.
This project in Taiwan also reflects the concept of ‘total design’ that the Milan-based studio Antonio Citterio & Patricia Viel has embraced with conviction for some time; where the interaction of the particular and the general becomes seamless and reciprocal, and where every single component – furniture and materials, colors and accessories, finishes and details – is part of an overall orchestration, in the definition of a new concept of luxury that puts the accent on the quality of spaces and things – things that will last in time.
Project by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel - Partners-in-charge Claudio Raviolo (architecture), Chung-Yi Yang (interior design) - Lighting design Metis Lighting
Photos Studio Millspace (exteriors), Sam Siew Shien (interiors) / courtesy Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel