Control vs Spontaenity

Chame-Chame (House of Nature), Lina Bo Bardi

“An attempt to find an equilibrium capable of doing away with opposites, an equilibrium present in so called primitive cultures, where material, pyschological and spiritual life are part of a unique, harmonious system” Olivia de Oliveira

Contradicting the idea of a development associated with progress, Lina Bo Bardi thrived on the so often undermined value of ‘lack of resources’. Similar to that of a tale, evoking the memory of place but in a contemporary context, she covered the external wall with bits of toys, dolls, ceramic fragments, and other generally considered ‘useless’ objects, which held a much stronger resonance to the people within the community.

“A good architect should use few basic new and old materials, but ones that are also honest and have rich and full voices that can sing the song the house composed, in order to speak to our senses” . Lina Bo Bardi

Being surrounded by people who had a profound knowledge of the black-African traditions, Chame-Chame was also strongly influenced by the ancient mythical symbol of the extant tree that was so traditional and common in Salvador. She embraced this however in a completely contemporary context, by liberating the notion of growth within the layout of the house itself. With its endless and unfinished forms, spiralling up and around the tree, it accepted nature as part of its very essence, rather than rigidifying it.

The uniqueness of this house, immediately removed it from the mass industrialization that was occurring in Brazil at the time, at the end of the 1950s. Having a much deeper meaning to the people, she wanted to treasure the mythology of a place, allowing its true spirit to be valued, rather than erased.

We began to explore this notion of the ‘unfinished’ and the ‘constantly growing’, by looking at the balance between a controlled and un-controlled design, in this case, through vegetation.

Working at Hackney farm, we started to understand the various proportions of sand, clay and dung bricks that would allow plants to grow within them. With this knowledge, we then planted seeds within a ‘good’ batch of the mixture for the model of Chame-Chame, and allowed the plants to completely engulf and envelop it, taking what one could call a very ‘uncontrolled’ approach.

At what point does architecture become too controlled? What happens when nature takes over? Our hope is to find this balance and harmony between both control and spontaneity/improvisation/intuition.