07/26/2018

The Poetic Conception of Home

By Luis Jasso

In the summer of 1968, Catalan sculptor Xavier Corberó began his never-ending pursuit of creating a home.

Situated in the Barcelona suburb of Esplugues de Llobregat, he designed and built a 48,000 sf structure spreading over nine interconnected buildings with more than a dozen courtyards, all nestled among more than 300 archways.

His obsessive endeavor started by purchasing a former potato farm with a plan to build his dream house. As his architectural ambition grew, so did his sculptural commissions, allowing him to acquire adjacent buildings that dared to restrain his vision. 

"I became an artisan because I know that there is something in nature that overwhelms me more than myself, more than humanity. And I think that sculpture from the very beginning of time has always been something to remind you of that."

When asked what was his intention when he began working on the structure he explains that whether it’s sculptures, buildings or spaces, the outcome of what he does has to be poetry, which he believes to be the measure of all things.

Once he began working on his home in 1968, he did not stop building until his death in April of last year. It remained as a work in progress for almost 50 years. The exteriors made of concrete, stack at different heights creating imposing sculptures surrounded by overgrown vegetation and bodies of water. The interiors are a collection of whitewashed and wood cave-like rooms that host the living quarters, studios, workshops and galleries.

The backbone of the complex is the monumental six-story glass atrium, referred to as "The Tower," where Corberó spent most of his time. It is built on a circular base in which the walls that surround it form an octagon, making the tower act like a kaleidoscope. 

Some doors open electronically, revealing an unlikely room and others take you outdoors. A staircase leads you to a corridor and others to nowhere. Although the magnitude of the complex is impressive, it is never felt while inhabiting the interior spaces. The scale and play of light evoke an idea of continuity without feeling overwhelming. His ultimate goal was to create a place in which the mental space, not the real one, is what matters.

"What I try to do does not stream from reason, but life itself… I use reason to build things up, so they don’t fall to pieces. But the motives behind all the rest are aesthetic, ethic and, if you will, divine."

Xavier Corberó’s house reflects more than an architectural and sculptural masterpiece of an artist, but the life of a man with an insatiable desire to create that is both enviable and inspiring. One who understood that in life, there’s always more work to be done.