chapter  1
26 Pages

From Schinkel to Le Corbusier The Myth of the Mediterranean in Modern Architecture BENEDETTO GRAVAGNUOLO

It is with these words pregnant with esoteric suggestions that Massimo Bontempelli attempted an acrobatic definition of the “myth of the Mediter ­ ranean” – a myth that exercised a notable magnetic force on the artistic, literary, and architectonic debate in Italy, Spain, and France in the first decades of the 1900s.2 Carlo Belli, a witness and actor of the period, wrote:

The theme of “Mediterranean­ness” and “Greek­ness” was our navigational star. We discovered early that a bath in the Mediterranean would have restored to us many values drowned under gothic superimpositions and academic fantasies. There is a rich exchange of letters between Pollini, Figini, Terragni and myself on this subject. There are my articles in various journals, especially polemical with Piacentini, Calza Bini, Mariani and others embedded in Roman fascism . . . We studied the houses of Capri: how they were constructed, why they were made that way. We discovered their traditional authenticity, and we understood that their perfect rationality coincided with the optimum of aesthetic values. We discovered that only in the ambit of geometry could one actuate the perfect gemütlich of dwelling.3