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Purple house: Pembrokeshire, UK

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Nowadays obsession for ethnicity seals national identities. Most people seem to ignore the erratic unfolding of ancient fluxes which moulded European lands. Lost in their dull present, they forget the rich pathways leading from the past to our time.Just a few memories. By the middle ages, between 1130 and 1194, England and to some extent Wales and Ireland, shared with Sicily a common Norman domain: Byzantine mercenaries and recognizers of Arabian culture after capturing Sicily, these conquerors from the North Sea introduced a fascinating network between the shorelines of the north and Mediterranean. Making British history for the first time since the Roman era, they broke once more the islands’ isolation. Introducing the number zero and many innovations from Middle-Eastern regions into Europe – not least bringing back ancient Greek and Roman classical text manuscripts – they laid the foundation for the birth of a Modern European era.But history is full of violence: the dominant possession of a submissive culture manages to disguise the larceny by carefully rewriting history; and where memory lacks misunderstandings begin. Learning from this, might architecture heal history’s wounds? Might it have the power to awake the missed routes concealed behind day-to-day life, revealing the whole cloaked behind the gloomy curtains of ignorance?Purple House represents an unconscious and personal language trip into the Norman legacy: exploring diverse elements, following paths empirically, re-evoking remote visions, aiming to find a common lost sense: what were the forgotten ex-changes between England, Wales, Ireland and Sicily?Encircled by massive carved walls and coordinated by an interior symmetrical facade with crystal domes at the corners, the architectural forms investigate what unites us in this history. Compactly, complex, oppressive, expressionistic, the hollow interior of this cave sculpture inhales light: a light which swells the curves and the bulk-heads, it coagulates at the corners and slips away, amid the interstices. It brightens up an ample adamantine vault, creating shades and dilating it.From dawn to dusk, its back-light changes the sense of space and the perception of the forms: at mid-day it dims the bulkheads curving in the living room. The light perforates the trapezoidal apertures carved in the heavy walls; close to the ceiling, the light transmutes itself into rapid blades cut by a magnified brise soleil. At sunset, how-ever, the hall darkens. The parts, now obscured, counterpoint distant glares spread around and inside the hollowed-out base: below a burning cave, above a giant brazier glows into the vault.During the course of a solar day light and dark swap roles, interpreting the drama of an architecture monolithic and fragmentary, made of stone, cement and purple.Architect: Antonino Cardillo  Architect.Photography: Courtesy of Antonino Cardillo  Architect.

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