The Cosmic Egg

The Catalonian contingent, comprised of Torroja, Candela, and Calatrava, developed as an outgrowth of Gaudi and his fascination with the Nubian arch. Still, there was another novitiate, the Italian Paolo Soleri.

                                                 Gaudi                      Soleri                      Calatarva

Soleri’s admiration and respect for Gaudi is displayed in his design of the Solimene ceramic factory, The Palace of Ceramics. Unlike the Catalonians, he did not shrink from ornamentation or monumentality. Nor did he adhere to their minimalism.

Yet, he revered the apse, placing it in numerous locations and transforming it as his designs developed.

However, where the Catalonians and Soleri agree in their interpretation of Gaudi’s work is the expression of the elegance of structural reciprocity.

The leaning columns in Parc Guell and elsewhere in Gaudi’s work are impressionistic expressions of the forces at work in the Nubian arch.

The modern understanding of the column shapes in the Solimene factory solely as dendriform––tree-shapes––ignores their connection to the kiln, pottery making, and Africa.

And more importantly, it strips the connection to their ancient African core tenet, as above, so below.

When viewed in its entirety, the arch's structural reciprocity becomes the “cosmic egg,” symbolizing the earth as a fertilized zygote. The analogy continues when considering ancient African settlement patterns where the village assumes the image of a person––The Village in the Image of the Universal Person. 

The 2017 retrospective of his work, The City is Nature, again focuses on Soleri's fusion of architecture and ecology, but diminishes the African ideal.

The original exhibition of his work was The City in the Image of Man in the 1970s, a concept that aligns with the Nubian arch.