Interview with
Michele De Lucchi



Villa Magazine No.15, Villas in Itlay

Exploring Villa Architecture with Michele De Lucchi: A Transcendent Dialogue


Delve into the realm of architectural contemplation as we embark on an intellectual voyage alongside Michele De Lucchi, an eminent architect whose career epitomises the convergence of innovation, artistry, and design. This article unveils Maestro De Lucchi’s profound reflections on villa architecture, transcending the mundane to explore the very essence of design ingenuity. De Lucchi’s legacy resonates as a symphony of creativity and expertise, with accolades ranging from co-founding the groundbreaking Memphis Group to curating captivating interior spaces. His work epitomises the dynamic interplay between art, architecture, and design innovation. Within these pages, De Lucchi’s insights take us on a journey through architectural history, from historical aristocratic villas to contemporary urban marvels. His words encapsulate the essence of villa architecture, redefining living spaces as more than mere structures. As we navigate De Lucchi’s thoughts, we become fellow travelers in the exploration of architectural ideals. Join us as we venture into a world where design is a medium for cultural expression, personal identity, and societal progress. Welcome to an intellectual sojourn an exploration of villa architecture that transcends the physical and invites us to discover the profound narratives woven into every space.
In my profession, I’ve explored many ways of being an architect: from the conventional architect who constructs houses, buildings, and skyscrapers, to the designer architect who creates projects for the industry, to the interior architect who designs interior spaces and adapts them to the customs and lifestyles of the time. You’ve never designed what is now strictly understood as a villa, yet the word brings to mind various architectural typologies and the diverse functions and nuances of meaning it has acquired over time. From the Veneto region, thoughts leap to the sumptuous and celebratory Palladian villas that the most prominent families of Venice would construct on the mainland countryside: the villa assumed the role of a place of representation, used for festivities, and to adorn it, great painters like Veronese, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo were engaged. Acting as scenographers, they were tasked with contributing to the magnificence of unforgettable summer events and celebrating the supremacy of one family over another. The transformation of this typology, identifying the villa as a «beautiful house» and an expression of personality and lifestyle, gave rise to villas in Europe's most picturesque locales, such as the hills of Portofino, Capri, Monte Carlo, or in the United States in Miami and the Hamptons. The villa also evokes memories of the beautiful houses of my childhood, where my grandparents, my parents siblings, or relatives lived. These were structures scattered across the Venetian countryside, exuding a charm of faded nobility, a splendor tied to a time that is no longer current or possible. Alternatively, it brings to mind renovated cottages, villas born from the transformation of farms, rural buildings, stables, and barns, which, when renewed, have been converted into residences. Moving away from the stereotypes that often conjure Hollywood’s domestic imagery, today we might broadly define a villa as an independent, self-sufficient home that offers all the comforts and advantages associated with living well. The villa is a «beautiful house», nestled within a natural context, and it can take various forms, including a detached house with a garden, a woodland dwelling, a clifftop residence, a beachfront property, a cottage, a chalet, a repurposed farm. The villa’s beauty primarily lies in the relationship it establishes between the interior and exterior, through spaces suspended between indoors and outdoors spaces that aren’t typically found in other architectural types. External parts of a building that are architectural in nature but aren’t constrained by a roof or fixed walls. The quality I consider most crucial in a villa is its authenticity, its ability to interpret the meaning we assign to life today, and the fundamental importance of our connection with nature:
the natural space where the villa is situated should reflect a care for nature and a commitment to preserving and nurturing it. This should convey the sense of natural beauty we perceive, which we wish our children, grandchildren, and their descendants could also enjoy.
The sense of responsibility towards nature must extend far beyond being a mere trend; it should be a mental attitude and a personal and intellectual commitment to respect the life that surrounds us. I reflect deeply on this aspect and the role we architects play. I am confident that we can encourage responsible and conscious behaviors. In 2018, my studio, AMDL CIRCLE, embarked on a research project a venture into alternative imagination to see if we could inspire a better world and images consistent with a happy and attainable future. This gave birth to the Earth Stations, a new building typology designed to promote human connections. Returning to the concept of a villa, I view it as a modest architecture or controlled architecture. Its configuration repeats through the centuries an environment built around the traditional idea of the hearth, a place for gathering and familial intimacy, which tends to fade in contemporary urban architecture and modern city living. I’m reminded of the «smuggler houses» that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his clients in Chicago when he was working under Sullivan, secretly sketching villas to supplement his income. These villas later became symbols of a new American architecture. Small-scale architecture offers extraordinary potential for experimentation, allowing combinations of stylistic elements, technological solutions, and figurative compositions within limited dimensions.
Currently, we are working on ‹La Fornetta›, an independent house nestled in a stunning landscape,
in a breathtaking location.
Through this project, we aim to interpret the idea of an isolated home in nature as contemporarily and up-to-date as possible. It was a structure from the 1970s-1980s that we are completely transforming using wood void of glues, chemicals, stabilising varnishes, or synthetic materials. The walls, constructed from larch, are assembled with beech dowels. The house doesn’t rest on conventional foundations; instead, it stands on rock plinths found nearby. An independent house, which further enhances an existing one, better integrates it with nature and permits experimentation with new formal solutions, material pairings, and entirely novel styles of ambiance. Thus, the contribution of us designers and architects also extends to material selection choosing to use less cement or fewer resources that consume energy and are harmful to the environment.


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