area 119 | gaetano pesce

architect: Gaetano Pesce

location: New York

year: 1972

The discovery of a small subterranean city, belonging to the epoch known “The period of the Great Contaminations”; location: Southern Europe (Alps). The basic living unit of the urban settlement was found to be in a reasonable state of preservation, with some paper documents of the preliminary design of the habitat, a map of the town, section planes of the house, sketches of the inhabitants’ attitudes in the domestic environment, a photographic dossier on the dwelling. The documents tell us, although vaguely, the living conditions in the late second and early third millennium after Christ. Its basic forms characterized by several distinctive features as they determined the structure of alla buildings of the “Great Contaminations”. The habitat was always placet on a base, with steps leading up to the entrance. It was made of dry mortised blocks of rigid plastic and was never more than 60 cm in height (in the case of our example, 40 cm). The function of this base was to serve as a thorough insulation, protecting the inhabitants from the infiltration of residual dampness during the period of great condensation. The dwelling itself was then fitted onto a stone masonry floor. The plan was square, with the principle axis running diagonally, and the whole measuring 4,80x4,80 m, by 3,60 m in height. There was only one door (about 60 cm wide and 220 cm high), placed in the corner of the parallelepiped, perpendicular to the principal axis. There was normally no other opening either in the walls or the roof, and except for the drains, there were no other openings or windows. The walls, fixtures, furnishings, were of mortised blocks of rigid polyurethane, while the seats were of soft polyurethane. However distant and strange the architecture of the “Contaminations” may seem, and however difficult it may be to establish links with the buildings of our day, the reticular module on which this architecture was based is nevertheless enlightening and is still of great significance for us.
“…in the architecture of the ‘Great Contaminations‘, the square and the rectangle are the absolutely fundamental forms, permitting no deviations and not allowing any variations in construction. These basic forms must not be covered nor hidden by any decoration, though this may exist to a limited extent and has an emblematic character…”
“…it is not difficult to find the geometric key to a plan, but when it is a question of explaining the esoteric content of the constructions and the formulae encountered therein, one is forced into the realms of conjecture…”
“…the house in itself is not only a mass of blocks arranged for a precise purpose, but it nurtures and conceals an interior pregnant with symbols that are unequivocally related to the model of representation of that time…” (Fragments from a volume discovered at the site in question).