4 April 2016
Its official name is the Corten House, but at the Pitsou Kedem Architects studio in Tel Aviv they prefer to call it In Praise of Shadows, in reference to the English title of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s celebrated essay on aesthetics In’ei Raisan, published in 1933. To understand why you just have to look at this parallelepiped of concrete, glass and Cor-Ten steel in the residential district of Savion, in Jerusalem, and think of the city’s subtropical climate and the almost total absence of clouds in the summer, a characteristic that turns shade into a mirage. The key to interpreting the design of this two-story house is the way that the concept of the grill has been handled: we find it in portions of the façade, in the walls, in the bookshelves open on both sides that connect some of the rooms and in the roofing of one area of the garden. Forms, proportions and materials adopted change according to need, but the stratagem remains the same. It is the structure of the house itself that controls the entry of natural light and produces the shadows. The patterns of light and shade that are created have the merit of breaking down the ascetic rigor of the house, composed of ample and minimalist spaces, organized into zones: a central one running the full height of the building, a residential and more private one on two levels and an external one with a sculptural impact. The choice of rough materials, used without finishes or treatments, has a great effect at a chromatic level, with the result that the house’s appearance changes over the course of the day: the most evident change can be seen in the steel, whose tarnished tones in the daytime turn black when night falls.