In an era of pre-fabricated development and of pre-masticated desires, what does the home really mean? The home is no longer a restorer of vital energies or sanctum of the nuclear family when the division between interior and exterior, of public and private has been replaced by the immediacy of viral connection. The home, as Frank Lloyd Wright puts it, is nothing but a “bedevilled box with a fussy lid and all kinds of holes.” So what past or future vistas can we look towards for guidance?

In 1958, the Uruguayan artist and poet Carlos Paéz Vilaró began constructing Casapueblo around a wooden box made of planks found along the coast. What ensued was a thirty-six year project to build not a house — but a living sculpture.

With the help of local fishermen, Vilaró constructed the entire Casapueblo by hand, amounting to a labyrinthine love-child between Gaudí and the Mediterranean archipelagos. Modelled after the mud nests of native birds, Vilaró’s Casapueblo has housed family, friends, visiting artists, a museum, restaurant and hotel within its white-washed cement and stucco walls.

Casapueblo was built without plans: the only philosophy it follows is that of immediate desire. When municipal council members asked Vilaró  for Casapueblo’s blueprint, an architect studied it for months, trying to understand its hidden language. Therein lies its appeal: that Casapueblo is a feat of architecture unmediated by the bureaucracy of forethought. 

Architecture, as it stands today, is hostile to spontaneity. It is an art-form corrupted by market logic, by cost-benefit analysis, by red-tape and by trend forecasting. The architect seeks to play God, to become the invisible orchestrator behind our movements and our activities and to reduce life to elements of functional design. Casapueblo, despite its size, reminds us of our own animal nature — that we are much closer to the Hornero birds who build their oven-like nests in the pastures of Uruguay than the stuff of omniscient and divine beings.


Words: Kasumi Borczyk

Image: @clementinavilla_ via @casapueblo_uy