Two members of the Soleri Archives crew are visiting the Ceramics factory in Vietri sul Mare, Italy, to see this project that Paolo Soleri designed in the early 1950’s and to view the recent installation of a Paolo Soleri sculpture infront of the factory. Soleri designed the sculpture in 2005.
in the photo: Here is Soleri Archives volunteer Toni Fragiacomo taking a photo of the sculpture from inside of the Ceramica Artistica Solimene. Paolo Soleri designed the sculpture in 2005.[photos by Soleri Archives volunteer Leah Ann Walker]
see the links in 7/20/2016 posting for additional photos of the factory and some photos of Paolo Soleri’s drawings, as well as of the construction of the Solimene factory.
In 1952, Vizenzo Solimene, an entrepreneurial ceramist, approached Paolo Soleri about designing a ceramic factory in the southern Italian town of Vietri sul Mare. In two years, the Solimene Ceramics factory stood erect and has since been a bright example of Soleri’s visionary architecture.
The daring façade of the building serves a double function. The glass sections allow for natural light to penetrate deep inside, while the solid wall sections, clad in ceramic cones made at the factory, promote the Solimene products.
For the Solimene Factory, Soleri was asked to provide production, commercial and residential space. He put the residential unit on top of the main structure. From there, the entire building is united by a spiral ramp that envelops the central interior space. The building’s location on a steep hill makes clay delivery from the top easy. From there, the clay travels down the ramp through the different stages of production, until it reaches the bottom level where it is sold at the Solimene gift shop. The interior of the space breathes with light coming from street windows and roof skylights.
“The building, which is both a work of art and a place for production, defies classification. With his design, Soleri came up with a wholly new idea that assimilated and reinterpreted the ancient custom of creating a courtyard to serve as a central space, a laboratory for daily life that linked the inside and the outside.
A spiraling ascent brings the site’s various levels indoors. This is architecture that allows for both movement and rest, arranged continuously from ground to roof, all in dialectic with what is produced.”
“Three of the floors are involved in the production cycle, starting at the third level and descending to the ground level, where the finished products arrive ready for direct sale or for loading onto trucks that enter on a road specially built for this purpose.
A terrace garden covering the top of the whole building was conceived as a public exhibition space between sky and landscape. To reach it, the visitor ascends the indoor spiral ramp and therefore experiences all phases of production, thus entering the complex man-made dialectic.
The climb from bottom to top highlights the decreasing width of the cantilevered floors in the large interior space while also providing a continuous view of ongoing work and the transformation of clay.
This structure provides an extraordinary promenade built on complex networks. It banishes the loneliness and monotony of the traditional factory and evidences the individual autonomous actions required for production, expressing the rhythms of the various phases. It offers exchanges, relationships, and comparisons, encouraging an optimal stimulating life – work as an ethical value.”