Second Prize Winner of the Reimagined Living & Working Space Competition 2021, The Casa: Not a Place for Quiet Contemplation by Ian Bugarin & Joe Douglas, is an incredibly refined and visually stimulating artwork intelligently pieced together to reveal a beautiful labyrinth of life and activity representing ‘a city within a city, a house without doors.’
We spent lockdown living and working together in an old house in Italy. We consider maintaining connectivity, physically and digitally, fundamental to our new ideas of living and working. By virtue of our community, slowly built up over the past years, we indulged in utopic ideas, finding respite in a live/work environment in rural Italy. The fresco drawing speculates on our love for sharing an old building that facilitates work and play. “E una citta dentro una citta”, a city within a city. A house without doors, the architecture and environment depicted utilises the porosity of an unfinished refurbished convent, situated within a coastal and mountainous region. Taking work as the pivotal “reason” for our collective gathering, we draw on the painting of St Jerome in his Study as an ideal environment to find focus. However, our energies are drawn not from isolation, but from the opposite. By relocating with people who use the spaces within to their own needs, different to our own, we find ourselves more intrigued by this activity than often in our normal lives. We find a new home away from home, more than just a “get away”, but an extension to our capacities for engagement.
FAT Q&A WITH IAN BUGARIN
& JOE DOUGLAS
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BACKGROUND?
Ian: I am Filipino-Spanish and born in Italy. I am now back in Scotland where my heart belongs, after briefly living in North London. During lockdown I spent several months working with La Rivoluzione Delle Seppie in Calabria. Alongside architecture I also dance and perform and hope to bring these two elements of my life closer together.
Joe: Architecture Undergraduate. Live(d) and educated in London and Essex. Recently re-located to South Italy to continue working with La Rivoluzione Delle Seppie. Now a proud resident of Amantea, Calabria and official “Guardian” of the Casa di Belmondo. Looking forward to being a working nomad for the foreseeable future.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR ARTWORK?
Joe: Drawing on a particularly strong artistic reference was actually a result as a piece of text written by a non-architectural colleague. This in itself made the concept seem more fitting; a collaborative twist on the idea of a solitary, studious person, in fact brought to our attention by collaborating with people from other disciplines. By merging our own more contemporary representational references and interests within an existing visual framework was a challenge that felt both fun and somehow always relevant.
Ian: I was inspired by the work of La Rivoluzione Delle Seppie, led by Rita Adamo in Southern Italy who has inspired me both as an architect and a friend. The collective is looking for new model of living and working collectively, as opposed to a hyper-specialized and competitive work culture. Living together in one house, we were building a small city within a city, connecting with each other and locals. We combined this with the famous painting of St Jerome, bringing together the new and the old (and ensuring my education in Italy didn’t go to waste!).
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PROCESS AND APPROACH TO RESPONDING TO THE COMPETITION THEME & PERHAPS YOUR FAVOURITE ASPECT?
Ian: Joe and I were living under the same roof so we began with collaging together elements and events that happened to us that could resonate. We wanted to show an aspirational approach as for us we have to look forward to how change can be made. My favourite aspect is of course the depiction of myself and my friend Franca within the drawing, and this is a memory of closeness.
WHAT DREW YOU TO THE COMPETITION & HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING AWARDED?
Joe: The competition resonated strongly with us as for this period, we have effectively been testing “through doing” what has always been, and imagined, as a working retreat connecting with the locality. The competition appeared to be a way to both reflect on this time, but also celebrate and expose the location and place which we, plus many others, both work with and in.
Ian: We had a unique experience in Calabria and learned lots, and the competition was an exciting opportunity to test out some of these ideas of living and working visually. We wanted to open the doors of our house with no doors. It's an honour to have been selected as second place by the judges, and I’m really glad that the work is shared widely.
WHAT DO YOU PARTICULARLY LOVE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE PROFESSION?
Joe: That to me this ongoing/architecturally orientated utopia often involves a constant re-understanding and imagining of the different tools that contribute to the formation of ideas and action, in a particular time and place. Sharing this with surrounding people, with the aim of bettering something for everyone is really lovely. I intend to take these experiences into future projects, wherever that is.
Ian: I used to work in an engineering company, but then I wanted to focus on more creativity in my life. Architecture allows me to write, to draw, to create and to understand the world in new ways, thinking collaboratively and alone. I want to create ideas that both empower communities whilst also producing striking and inspiring architecture.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE ARCHITECT/DESIGNER OR ARTIST WHOSE WORK INSPIRES YOU?
Ian: I am inspired by the work of Arakawa and Gins who work across art, writing and architecture that challenges people, not to make them uncomfortable but to keep them alive.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWN PERSONAL ARTISTIC/DESIGN STYLE?
Ian: Irreverent. I like taking piecing from different elements that do not at first glance connect and bringing them together in the way that they form in my head. I take inspiration from art, and the three panels in the artwork are inspired not only by painting triptychs by also by a three-screen video artwork by Wu Tsang.
Ian Bugarin & Joe Douglas
Ian Bugarin & Joe Douglas
Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, Victoria Whenray of Conran + Partners, Jas Bhalla of Jas Bhalla Architects, Ross Hutchinson of Hutchinson & Partners, Marcos Rosello of aLL Design & Roger Ashman of Ashman Architects
Architects Journal Competition Call: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/competitions/reimagined-living-and-working-space
Architects Journal Shortlisted Entries: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/architects-art-shortlisted-in-contest-to-rethink-live-work-spaces