A house by the sea as a sculpture
The house was designed and built by the Florentine architect Vittorio Giorgini (1926-2010) in the mid-sixties.
It was born as one large central space to live openly and freely on vacation. Then following suggestions by Giorgini himself the space was harmoniously divided with curvilinear walls that never reach the ceiling.
The structure envelops the large central space and leans on the ground in three points, then it opens up towards the sea through a large opening diaphragmed by an articulated wooden window which allows a balance with the external environment. The house was built from a double metal net covered with sprayed cement and left coarse, in some places shaped by hand, to form a slab here and there of pierced openings similar to that of paper cuttings. The curved, sinuous contours provoke the recollection of a large animal such as a dinosaur, from which the house takes its name, or a whale, which is what the house is called by the local people. The shape allows a balanced, natural interaction between the curves and rigid of the structure. The depth of the entire structure remains constant throughout with each of the variable curves trusting the support of the house.
A large spiral of small pebbles embedded in the concrete envelops the house from the ground, then spreads to form a terrace in front of the large opening to finish at the highest point of the building, where the fireplace fixes the surface, emerging from the trees and protruding towards the sea.
A wild Mediterranean vegetation surrounds the house leading directly to the sea of the Gulf of Baratti.
“…a magical place…”
My personal relationship with the house and the environment in which it is immersed starts right from the definition that Giorgini himself gave of Baratti: a magical place. An unpolluted place where you can breathe well-being and internal relief, a place full of positive energy that flows through me every time I’m there. It is no coincidence that this place was chosen by the Etruscans as a home for the dead, a place of peace suitable for the continuation of a vital activity by the deceased after death.
The first time I went to Baratti I was about seven years old. My father had a motor boat moored at the port and I hung around the marina with Giancarlo Cappelli, owner of the port, Canessa, the only restaurant in the area, Vinicio, who sold baits and fishing materials.
In 1977 my father, Leandro, learned through his friend, a surveyor, that on the other side of the gulf, in the Demos area, an unusual building in a state of total neglect was on the market. He was intrigued and decided to go and see it. As soon as he arrived he was immediately captured. It was love at first sight and he patiently set out to acquire it with difficulty.
I still remember the day my father took me there for the first time although 41 years have passed… When I saw the house, I was struck by its morphology and thought: this house is fun. My impression was one of an imaginary, surreal gamble. Extreme genius which paradoxically blended into the environment in which it lay: the genius of a genius! The first “pure” contact with the house, free from the wave of holiday and summer enthusiasm, occurred during the stay of a family friend (I was about 13 years old) between the end of September and the beginning of October: she wanted to stay at Baratti for a couple of weeks out of season and I stayed with her. We were Dinosaur, us and the sea: the perfect unicum, an imaginary trilogy. It was perferct harmony, respect, love. A few years later a second “pure” period followed: I had just graduated and, waiting for a job overseas, I spent two months (October and November) at the Dinosaur doing some small maintenance works, I “took care of him” and he gave me peace and serenity in return while the sea blended this exchange. And it was again perfect harmony, respect, love.
Giorgini at the time lived and worked in the United States. My father, an engineer, tried to contact him to find out about the stability of the house, of any existing sketches, interior projects since at the time the house was only a single room divided by a false wooden wall. They actually spoke over the phone and my father saw some of the sketches for the interior to divide the spaces.
Since that second meeting I did not have the possibility to take care of the Dinosaur. My father left us, and decided that I should take care of it for the time to follow, with his help. When I next saw the Dinosaur I suffered. It needed urgent works, it was suffering. You could breathe an atmosphere of misery which contrasted the overwhelming feeling of serenity which embraces the place. I had to act immediately. So thanks to the support of my wife, my children and the excellent hands and professional skills of Mirko, and of course the help of my father, the Dinosaur experienced a rediscovery of the most intimate part of its soul which had been so wisely preserved. I cannot hide the emotion, fear, anxiety and satisfaction of rediscovering its curves, its internal depths, its overhanging levels, its internal harmony. I think the architect Vittorio Giorgini would be happy with it I am sure my father is!
Curiosities discovered over time …
Casa Dinosauro is built exactly on the 43rd parallel (I exclude that this was known at the time of its building) which runs through important places of pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, Assisi and Medjugorje. I wonder if that feeling of serenity and peace that reigns in the House is not entirely coincidental…
The inspiration for the design of the house arises from the great friendship between Vittorio Giorgini and Hans Jenny, a Swiss cardiologist interested in “cymatics”. I discovered this a few years ago by studying the archives available and I was strongly impressed by the coincidence as I am also a cardiologist … I would not exclude that the heart shape opening at the highest point of the building is a tribute to his cardiologist friend.