Born in Palermo in 1857, Ernesto Basile grew under the supervision of his artist and scientist father Giovanni Battista Filippo and turned to be an important Italian architect exponent of modernism and of the Art Nouveau.His fathers interests and studies impressed Ernesto from early age, guiding him though the study of natural forms and to a better understanding of the Sicilian architectural history. Although his early studies involved Sicilian architecture, Gothic, Renaissance and Arab-Normal references influenced his work, along with other cultural sources from Europe. Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Gottfried Semper marked his writings and studies and his many journeys brought up several collaborations, among witch was the one from 1899 to 1909 with the Ducrot furniture factory.
Villino Basile or Villino Ida is Ernesto Basile’s own private home and studio built by him between 1903 and 1904 in a Liberty district of bourgeois residences. For his villa the Italian architect chose a more open attitude towards its surrounding neighborhood in spite of the conservative atmosphere of the zone. To secure though a certain degree of primacy and intimacy an horizontal brick claded wall was inserted on the site’s perimeter, separating thus the garden from the public life of the street. Whereas the street-near spaces were strictly protected and enclosed, a more open attitude emerged towards the garden, location where the architect chose to have his studio as well.
The main entrance is represented by an iron gate with an inscription on top, leading to a passage that acts as a distributor of spaces and a mediator between the public and the private life.The plan is based around the dinning room positioned in the center, the heart of the home, symbolizing the nucleus that holds and brings the family together. An essential element in the interior design of this special room is the stove, bringing comfort and coziness to a home that may seem very restrictive, cold and conservative from the exterior facades. Villino Basile was designed with one thought in mind: the family’s comfort first and the decorations derived from the functional and structural principles.
“I planned my house thinking first of all of the interior distribution for the purpose of convenience, then of the construction, and finally of the decoration, which must be the logical consequence of the ground plan and the structure…The modern villa allows the house to be distributed over more than one floor,with one partly underground floor for bathroom and kitchen. with the ground floor for the studio, reception and dining rooms, with the first floor for the bedrooms and their annexes, and with the mezzanines for the domestic staff. This is the way my house is arranged.”
The facades are designed in pure Mediterranean style with regular openings and simple merging of volumes and the time period in which the villa was build coincided with other two buildings designed by Ernesto Basile, together knows as the “while villas”. The Catalonian, Greek and Egyptian influences were merged perfectly and originally into his private home where rules were not obeyed so strictly as in the other two white houses, with furnishings created as prototypes for the future Ducrot collections.
“At a time when the main exponents of modern architecture were tackling the same themes, Basile combined the influences of the cultural production of contemporary Europe ( Olbrich, Horta, Hoffman, Mackintosh, Van de Velde) with the local Sycilian tradition.” [Claudia Zanlungo]
Ernesto Basile’s main architectural works
Ernesto Basile Projects
- 1891-97 Completion of Teatro Massimo, Palermo
- 1899 Florio Vincenzo house, Olivuzza, PALERMO
- 1899-1900 Grand hotel Villa Igiea all’Acquasanta, Palermo
- 1902-27 Extension of the Palazzo di Montecitorio and construction of the new hall in the Chamber of Deputies, Rome
- 1903-04 Own house via Siracusa, Palermo and Fassini House, Palermo, destroyed
- 1907-12 New building for the Cassa Centrale di Risparmio Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo
- 1911 New town hall, Reggio Calabria
- 1913-14 Kursaal Biondo, Palermo
- 1916 Chiosco Ribaldo in Piazza Castelnuovo, Palermo
- 1923 Social housing in via A.Volta, Palermo