Valerio Ottavino

When questioned on the meaning of detail in architecture, Umberto Riva stated:
“It is an in-depth development of the theme: when the scale changes, some
elements may nourish the form with their legitimateness, yet remain in a marginal
position. This is detail”.
Detail is an essential tool to think – first – and realize – then – the elements in a space
and the components in a design with the highest possible accuracy. As a tool for
insight, detail is a modality for the investigation of architectural form through
close-up vision. The transition from overall scales to detail scales highlights an
increasingly higher number of design components, and gradually refines: in the
gradual progression from spatial concept (of the whole) to materiality (of details), the
formal invention is legitimated through the encounter/clash with technical and
executive needs.
“My method consists in discussing all technical and architectural details from the
beginning, in a design”, Adolf Loos taught this to his students, warning them about
the inseparability between formal, technical, and executive invention. This is even
more important in interiors: compared to other intervention scales, the distance
between idea and construction is here shorter.
Indeed, in interior design, the transition between scales is fast: overall and detail
design are often simultaneous, concurring. The search for the architectural form
resides in the process: that is, in the troubled process of continuous cross-references
between overall design issues and choices on detail solutions.

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