Casa M by Vincent Van Duysen

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    Sitting sculpturally in its arid and unaltered surrounding landscape, Casa M is subtly disguised amongst its terrain.

    Emerging from the ground some three years after the initial sketch, the resulting structure draws on the key essentialist principles that underpin Vincent Van Duysen’s work, while fusing an appropriate vein of Brutalism as a welcomed response to context.

    “Casa M is intended to be a shrine, a sanctuary, a Domus in which I can feel protected yet inspired, lulled by an unspoiled vegetation, so typical of the area,” Vincent says when describing the house’s serving purpose. For him, it’s an argument for eliminating noise and clutter from one’s life, to quite literally recede into the natural environment.

    Rising from the earth, a similar-hued aggregate concrete form sculpts the stepped platforms and encasing planes, opening to welcome the outside in. While textural variances absorb the passing sun, casting moving shadows throughout the day, it is the unique tonality that defines the form.

    “The remoteness and tranquillity of the area, the unspoiled vegetation, the pristine beaches, the umbrella pine trees, the simple life and the close rapport with nature – that is what drew me to this place.”

    – Vincent Van Duysen

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    Vincent collaborated with local craftsmen for the dining chairs and table, with Akari 75A pendant by Isamu Noguchi above. Terracotta tiles feature on the floors, and on the home’s roof.

    “The bone-tinted hue vanishes into the sandy surrounds, where the compound achieves the opposite effect of its Brutalist forebears,” Vincent says, which tended to overpower the landscape. The materiality instead, embraces the surrounds unspoiled nature, “representing the texture-obsessed, materials-driven strain of warm brutalism that has come to define my work,” he adds.

    In its own way, the location spoke to its creator well before his response became clear. “The remoteness and tranquility of the area, the unspoiled vegetation, the pristine beaches, the umbrella pine trees, the simple life and the close rapport with nature – that is what drew me to this place.” Vincent reflects.

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    Monolithic in parts and softened through textural timber, Vincent says the house is meant to take in the elements– sand, light, wind, sun, air, fog and the ocean in the distance; with a non-ornamental attitude. He says this lets the sculptural, umbrella-like canopies of the marine pines be the centre of attention.

    As a contemporary to previous iconic concrete structures such as Can Lis in Mallorca by Jørn Utzon and Casa Luis Barragan, Casa M opens its own conversation with locality, its history and its people, extending from the earth in its own wonderous way.

    This feature originally appeared in est Magazine issue #41.

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