While waiting: The strange figurative architecture of Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino

Keith Evan Green, University of Pennsylvania


Architects Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino offer contemporary architects a wondrous, poetic, and distinctly Italian perspective on how to create an architecture that allows people to feel at home with themselves and their surroundings. Their work is a provocative counterpoint to a current architectural tendency towards formal concerns, dissociated from everyday life. The Milanese Ponti, whose career was bracketed by Mussolini's march on Rome and the social movements of the late 1960s and 70s, understood that an architecture determined by historical styles, proportional systems, or politics would fail in its promise to realize a better world. Still, Ponti fantasized that architecture might yet fulfill this promise. To realize something of this fantasy, Ponti found recourse in his own imagination and the personal faith it afforded him. Animating Ponti's imagination was the Latin word domus (home), a fundamental expression selected by Ponti to represent his architectural project: to realize an architecture in which people would feel at home with themselves and each other. A significant part of Ponti's project was Domus, his journal of architecture that frequently featured the writings and projects of his Turinese friend Carlo Mollino. Across the pages of Domus, the two architects engaged in a lively conversation towards realizing the dream of domus. Still, as Ponti declared, the "full and total time" of such a fabulous architecture "awaits us still." Both Ponti and Mollino recognized that their fantastic architectural pursuit was more a fairy tale than an expected architectural outcome. In the dreams of these two architects, architecture was then unequivocally domus; but in the world in which they practiced, their works of architecture offered only a "figure" of a yet-to-be realized domus, experienced by its inhabitants as an unexpected moment of magic and wonder that brings them a sense of their place in this world. While waiting for architecture to fulfill its promise as domus, Ponti and Mollino persisted with their human project, figuring strange works of architecture that make room for this miraculous prospect.

Subject Area

Architecture|Design|Interior design

Recommended Citation

Green, Keith Evan, "While waiting: The strange figurative architecture of Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino" (1998). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9840197.