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Amélia Tavella

The Skin IQD 71


Amélia Tavella was born in Corsica. She graduated in Architecture in 2004 from the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and received her Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Development and Construction from the Aix Marseille Institute. In 2007, she founded the architecture firm AMELIA TAVELLA ARCHITECTS, based in Aix en Provence. Appointed in 2021 “Knight of the National Order of Merit by the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honor”, the highest honor conferred by the French state, Amélia Tavella is considered an increasingly relevant figure in the panorama of French and international architecture. Her architectural signature, connected to the sensuality of noble and natural materials, is the sign of a constant work on the memory of places, particularly the Mediterranean. “The Mediterranean is my origin. I come from there, from this unique place. As a daughter of the bush and the sand, I learnt the complexity of my profession as an architect here. Sea, rock, beach, my femininity embraced the femininity of this sea, working delicately, weaving damaged lace, inspired by sediment, a soft and original material”. Her singular creative process is illustrated in her works, notably the School in Strega, the Saint Teresa House, the Saint-François Convent, the Edmond Simeoni School in Lumio and recently the Henri Tomasi Conservatory in Ajaccio, designed in collaboration with Rudy Ricciotti.

The Skin

The skin is the subject I have chosen for this issue. I’ve always thought that my work is connected with sensuality, with the flesh. I like to believe in an organic life of buildings, housing. My architectural gesture is a gesture of love. My work expresses desire, love, vibrations. Skin is stone, wood, copper, terracotta. It protects the interior of the building and announces it. The skin comes first. It is the skin that we see first, it is it that radiates, envelops. It is the identity, it is the imprint. Working to characterize the soul of a place entails addressing the question of its identity, in a sociological sense. Identity intended as a set of attributes and characteristics that are consistent only in their interactions. In this sense it is a social construct, not an essential fact, a process destined for continuous transformation. Identity is, in fact, a very complex whole, made up of morphological, geographical, social and cultural elements. Facing the identity of a place, of a space is the fundamental condition for characterizing its soul and skin. I create starting from my skin, from its color and this skin is Mediterranean. My work cannot be parted from my Corsican, insular origin. Being born on an island is being born in the middle of the sea. I believe in this strength and in this fragility: my country rests on the water. This floating country has found its strength in its skin and this skin is bark, maquis, rock, it is prickly, dry, it stands up against the waves, the tides, the storms, the indomitable. It is roughness and sweetness thanks to its beauty. This skin has influenced my work, my approach to design, my imagination. There is, I believe, an island spirit, a way of being, of thinking, of resisting. The island is in motion, but it is also a point. The skin of the island is the body against the forces of the sea. I come from this state, wild despite the transformations, the constructions. And each time I would like to find a form of virginity. Mine is a restoration work. I am an idealistic architect. I want to save the past, build from the ruins, invent from the traces. I believe in the memory of places and in the power of this memory. I don’t break ties with time, but continue its work. My gesture is a gesture of loyalty. I like to reunite the past with the present. I like that these two moments embrace each other. In this way, only in this way, I can project myself into the future.

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