Interpretations of Domestic Space


  • Michela Bassanelli Politecnico di Milano



Interior/exterior, Interior space, Spatial design


The limit between interior and exterior seems no longer to exist and the two domains increasingly influence each other to the point where they blur into one. In contemporary representations of interior spaces in particular, the private and domestic aspect is in crisis. Two modalities of interpretation of the interior space make this evident, and both originate from notions of cavum and plenum. The former refers to the idea of emptiness, an empty, hollowed out space, while the latter is rather the action of filling. Through critical readings of selected examples of the representation of contemporary domestic spaces, this paper considers some features of internal space and of a new interiority - from the loss of borders between exterior and interior - evidenced in projects such as Sway House (2008) by Atelier Bow-Wow, Moriyama House (2005) by Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, to the dematerialisation of space when landscapes, with their atmospheric variables, become one with interiors - evidenced in projects such as Curtain Wall House (1995) by Shigeru Ban; House in Leiria (2008-2010) by Aires Mateus.


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Author Biography

Michela Bassanelli, Politecnico di Milano

Michela Bassanelli is an Architect and Ph.D. Candidate in Interior Architecture and Exhibition Design at DAStU-Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano. Her research focuses on the domestic interior, museography, collective memory, and cultural identity.




How to Cite

Bassanelli, Michela. 2012. “Cavum/Plenum:: Interpretations of Domestic Space”. Idea Journal 12 (1):140-49.



Design Research Paper