Mirror of the soul, key and casket of our way of thinking. External space of the being, fixed abode of worldly possessions. residence of our life, reflection of a fervid carrying out: a real or imaginary place, a projection of illusions and expectations, in which green tips of hopes and fancies grow blooming. Then a mason came forth and asked “ Speak to us of Houses”. And he answered: “Build with your imagination a bower in the desert, a shelter in a cave before you build a house within the city walls. In the twilight you return to the house, so does the distant and solitary wonderer in your yearns fo these home comings. Your house is your larger body. It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night, and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream perhaps ? And dreaming, doesn’t it leave the city for grove or hilltop? How I would like to gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow. Would the valleys be your streets, and the green paths your alleys, so that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments. In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields. And tell me people, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Maybe have you peace, the quiet desire that reveals in you the power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these things in your houses? Or have you only the comfort that they offer and the hidden craving for comfort that enters the house as a guest and becomes a host, and then a master? Yes, and with hook and scourge turn you into puppets of your intense desires. But you, children of space, you restless in calm, you shall not surrender to anxiety nor will you be tamed. Your house shall not be an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the pupil. You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the livings. And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longings. As what is boundless in you, lodges in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night."
    Kahlil Gibran


    At the sources of the Big River, the natural energy, which is inscribed in the Earth’s genes, interacts with that of men and of their ceremonies. Arrivals, departures and pilgrims’ celebrations produce a magnetic strength, an electric field, a mark which can be nowadays heard, seen and felt in everything. The passage’s energy is still here, in the silence of stones; this is filled up by the everlasting flow of water; it is in the ashes, in the river’s rocks and in all last chill presences. “Ajey, what do you think when you observe the mountains?” “I listen to Goddess Nature, that speaks to me of my life. She has power on me. Everything I have comes from Nature and if I meditate with her name at my lips, it gives me power. Strength. Mountain reassures me when I am agitated, it calms me when I am anxious and gives me courage when I am frightened; I also listen to the woods, rivers and hills. They also give me a great strength. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA, we say. Glory to Shiva. And remember that Lord Shiva, the god of the mountains, is very near to our humble spirit”.
    Giuseppe Cederna, Il grande viaggio - The big trip


    It is in the inner silence that desire grows, the past acquires virtue, the present passes in the future and stagnation becomes future motion. The atmosphere of suspension is the soul’s space where emotions sediment, while the mind “turns around” when all apparently seems motionless and silent. Our technological present has become a world “without silence”; noises and commotions in the plural like intrusive images and infinite words, fill the air and the existential environment – both men’ public and private life – reducing more and more every difference, eroding the interior and introspective space. It is then easily explained why silence has become a “precious good”; people speak actually of “a contemporary luxury”, “merchandise” – even if immaterial – and a new business area, an action field of different areas of the global economy. Chains of hotels (which are sometimes luxurious and coloured, other times “anti glamour”, “vintage” with clashing monochrome materials), bare monasteries and convents that welcome more and more secular hosts, out-of-the-way thermal stations, extreme tourist goals (distant mountains and tablelands, hermitages, deserts, poles and, in a short future, the celestial space) propose the absence of sounds as an escape from contemporary life which is given by them “in time” and in payment. Silence is sold for its therapeutic, cathartic and regenerating values. But silence is not the simple absence of noises, but it is also a matter of suspension and inner empathy. It is the soul’s state of magic through which the passion and the superimposition of sounds, words, images, things and bodies are being pushed away. What kind of silence can we still look for among thousand images and voices which fragmentize the soul’s experience in the contemporary reality? Today we are all under a cloak of a media noise where an immanent energy (deep, dense, pervasive) is released by a global network which looms up in the sky over our cities and that has now began to spread out on the territories of the civilized landscape since a few years ago, which was designed by man quietly and silently. An image appears on the surface. It doesn’t concern us that, thanks to a generational gap – we were offered the gift of the experience of silence. It’s an image bound to our sons and to their difficult inner search, the search of themselves; we perceive them as “nomads” – like all of us by now – who cross (no longer leaving there) several cities and chaotic crowded and noisy territories, as is the general custom among young persons. They have earphones of I-pod technology well positioned on their ears. The message we give is to turn off the communicative and connective medium but leaving in their place the earphones (which will become sound-proofed earphones); they must close their eyes in order to “give voice” to some deep thoughts. Noise will come back later and life with it too.


    Tradition teaches us that man is a microcosm in a macrocosm, a complete organism who is inserted in the universal harmony. Man is symbolized by a tree whose trunk doesn’t grow on height and it doesn’t expand with blooming foliage if it hasn’t deep roots. In the same way our mind isn’t able to rise spiritually and to develop its capabilities, if it is inclined to draw him away from the daily activities and to scorn humble things of every day. It was a very cold morning in winter. An old man sat on a pavement; his naked feet laid near the flowers, which stood out, dusty, among few blades of grass on the sides of the street. Some irregular pebbles that formed the ground of an improbable country path, led to a steep hill up to the vast monastery of Rasmatah. Incenses’ fumes and exotic essences dispersed high in the air; the odorous sighs accompanied the Mantras of the great masters brought together to meditate. Like a thousand white and orange stains placed on a chessboard. Thin bodies of young elected boys in the first flush of an indeterminate age, moved their chests in unison, following the breathing of the old Lità. He was a famous preacher with many listeners, a reverenced priest who gathered a large community of believers around him who under his aegis had respectfully come assembled to his words and his rules. A day was beaten by hours of requests, long meditations, sermons and moral lessons. The purification of the soul was practiced through sacrifices and vows of chastity; the abstinence rule from every excess accompanied indifference and disdain of every pleasure for the spiritual research of eternal serenity. One of the young monks of the temple, who was perplexed about what he heard, came down at the end of the sumptuous ceremony and of the mystical sermon and met the barefooted man who was just sitting on the roadside. Absorbed by a thousand and ascetic but magnificent thoughts the young boy didn’t notice the old man. He trampled over the few flowers between his two legs and continued his way as if nothing mattered. A burning desire of spiritual elevation, a painful research of the notion of the Good and the Beautiful, probably made the boy forget what the old man had in mind, with the respect more than a vain hope of a far and transparent tomorrow: “An immortal power joins in a more or less way all things among themselves: “you cannot tear away a flower without disturbing a star!”


    Beauty and beautiful are words that we usually use to mean something we “like” and “intrigue” us, a term to which we implicitly attribute quality and importance. Beauty is an ideal identity or a material one which is able to attract and to seduce. Beauty is sometimes put to portray a wish and a possession source for people without empathy; but beauty is always available and offers generously itself to people who are able to enjoy it and stop, an experience that is considered one of the most wise and refined among all men’s way of living. Female beauty, clouds’ beauty, stars’ beauty, animals’ beauty, movements’ beauty, plants’ beauty. Beauty of unanimated and still things. I often become attached to natural substance’s beauty, which is naked and enable us to approach the original condition of things. It is maybe here beauty’s “hard heart”; it isn’t inviolate by every man’s modifying mark and it is free from every interpretive useless adjuncts. Stone takes part to this dawning unpolluted beauty, which can dance on things’ surface but also filter in depth. It’s the beauty which is regenerated for a long time even when substance’s life is obliged to experience the time’s erosion or some man’s transforming actions. We love this particular beauty; it is temperate monographic substances itself which draws our attention on it and make us feel side by side, fascinated by things’ essence. The substance nearness keep us away from general outlines and from shapes; it suggests us to take advantage of the “touch” where experiences like see, feel, listen to, smell and move put in interest our senses, which originate every idea, beauty’s idea too. This nearness allows transforming the physical reality into emotions and sometimes in magic: “The magic of reality is for me that kind of alchemy that transforms the material substances in human sensations, that particular moment of emotional appropriation or substance’s and shape’s transformation which are present in the architectural space”.
    Peter Zumthor, “La magia del reale”


    Rock is omnipresent around us. It is almost ubiquitous; we find it in the terrestrial crust and it creates at the same time the entire world ‘s framework. Rock joins together every thing, rising to form hilly elevations, becoming settled under the plains, sinking to create faults and falls. In conclusion, it gives to the Earth its general outline. First we have to wonder what is rock as nature’s substance and what is rock as architecture’s matter in order to understand the millenarian relationship between rock and architecture itself. It is particularly important think about the begin of rock’s use for building’s needs and, especially, when pieces of rock, removed from quarries and shaped following definite geometric configurations, passed from nature’s non-figurative state to Art’s and Architecture’s affectations. Man began to confront with the lytic universe when he came to the Earth; he created, using rock, arms, jewels, work’s tools, shelter, enclosure and monuments. Many people assert that the origins of rock’s use for the construction of buildings is to connect to a simple and intuitive usage of collecting little fragments which came away from mountains’ rocky boulders. It was therefore a selection and a use of wondering rocks: houlders, boulders, stratified rocks, formless splinters with quick corners but also big and little pebbles with delicate and smoothed surfaces. It is the primitive search and rock’s exploitation that people find in the Earth’s surface: “brutish”, non refined, non geometrically formed by man, and therefore they are already inscribed in a project, in a constructive logic. These lytic elements, which are heterogeneous as regarding form and dimension, allow the construction of rudimentary works. We are often, beginning from the dawn on the West, in front of the tumulus’ archetypal; its lytic mass is “eroded” in its inner with big difficulty. It is eroded to create a small existential space which is opposite and contrasting to that offered by the wooden hut. The rock’s permanence in the long temporal length will induce man very soon to do valuations which don’t only follow the functional sphere, the utilitarian. If every vegetal or clay material will characterize itself as an ephemeral work, giving life to a sort of “installation”, a superstructure as regards to the land which grants it, the stone’s construction will embody from the origins the permanence idea strictly bound with the land that gives hospitality to it. It will let it appreciate for a sequence of characteristics which derive from the same material (mass, volume, solidity, length) and which will become elements “symbol” in the same idea of monumentality in architecture. We attend therefore, for the first time, to the material Metamorphosis that announces us a double life. It happens, as mister Henri Focillon says, a divorce between natural and art substances. The cut stone is installed and is already without relation with the quarry’s rock. Substance’s life regenerated; surfaces assumed an epidermis, a grain; the colour, which was encapsulated on the rock, has changed when it came to the surface. It intensified it. Stone has become Architecture.


    Uniqueness is an absolute element in the lytic world. It is so particularly thanks to the colour of its stones that we don’t find either over or under the surface; the colour has taken place in the “lytic thing” and it represents now its Essence. As regarding stone, people don’t have to trace some coloured cream on a surface as it happens in the painting instead, where the colour takes part in the shrewd deceit of the portrayal as a covering pellicular layer. People don’t resort to the trick of the colour, the same “cosmetic” or “chemical” colour to which the industrial society accustomed us with its crammed show of goods; the stones’ colour is durable, deep, carrier of attributes, of “varietas” and naturalness; this colour is natural because it is not elaborate, it is not altered (and maybe it is unalterable) by technology or by any scientific, philosophic and aesthetic theories and by the language project. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, during the second half of the Seventeenth century, committed himself to search for quality colours levels in the production of the textile dyes. This search was strictly bound to the protectionism politics that was ardently supported by Colbert himself. The minister speaks clearly about colours, which should result “fast” as well as “beautiful”. In order to support this theory, it is necessary to lead back once again to the natural universe and to the stones’ uniqueness: “ All visible things could be distinguished and become an object of desire thanks to their colour; and it is not only necessary that the colours were beautiful…but it occures that they are good too, in order to assure that their endurance is identical to the wares to which they are applied. Nature shows us the difference and should be an example; because if it gives a weak colour to the flowers, which pass in a few time, it doesn’t the same for herbs, metals and stones. Nature gives a brighter shade to them and their colour is proportional to their endurance.
    Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Instruction ge’ne’rale pour la teinture des laines.


    “It remains to consider rock’s nature, in which the madness of human customs performs more then somewhere else, even when gems, amber jewels, crystal vases and murra are silent. Actually it seems that all things we have considered in this book have been produced for men’s benefit: but nature created mountains for itself as a kind of skeleton that had to consolidate the Earth’s bowels and, in the meantime, it had to brake the force of the rivers and to dash the sea waves as well as to settle the stormiest elements with the help of their very strong substance. On the contrary we cut to pieces and take away these mountains, which constituted once an object of wonder even only to cross over. We did it for a unique purpose: our pleasures. Our ancestors almost considered a prodigy that the Alps had been crossed by Annybal and later by the Cymbrians; now, the same mountains are cut to pieces to quarry marbles of different types. Headlands are cleft in order to let the sea pass by and nature is transformed into a levelled plain. We pull up what had been placed as a border between different people; ships are built to take marbles on, and the mountains’ peaks are carried left and right on the waves, which are the wildest element of nature. This thing is even more excusable than another one: when people looks for a vase in the clouds to have fresh drinks and at the same time rocks are dig nearer to the sky to discover frost beverages. All people should reflect on these things and realize the prize they have; men should consider the prize of the rocks which are moved and taken away. And more, people should reflect on the fact that life of many could be much more happy without the rocks. And this work, or better these pains, for which kind of utility or pleasure are chosen by people except to stay on floors of multicoloured stones? – as if this pleasure couldn’t be taken away by the dark of the night, which occupies a half of everyone’s life.
    Plinio, Storia naturale