Antonioni's Dome

Antonioni’s Dome

As you know, we love homes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them even tell great stories. We recently stumbled upon an interesting tale – that of a dome-shaped home created in 1969 for Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni. So we decided to share the story of Antonioni’s Dome…

Antonioni was one of the great masters of film, best-known for idiosyncratic movies that commented on alienation in the modern world. The director was famously fascinated with industrial form and had a passion for architecture. He had fallen in love with the landscapes of Sardinia on the set of his movie Deserto Rosso, and was inspired by the writer Curzio Malaparte’s clifftop house on Capri (the dramatic Casa Malaparte). So it’s not surprising to learn that, in the late Sixties, when he was looking for a holiday home for himself and his lover Monica Vitti, he commissioned a wildly unconventional house on a secluded Sardinian hillside.

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Set in the lunar landscape of the Costa Paradiso, the house is a futuristic dome that sits incongruently within the wild nature that surrounds it. La Cupola, as it is known, is a reinforced concrete structure designed and built by Italian architect Dante Bini. The shape of the house was based around the concept of the Binishell that Bini had patented in 1964. Rather astonishingly, to create the structure, he used a giant balloon which was covered in concrete and then inflated. The concrete hardened, forming a dome.

Bini may have been the architect, but Antonioni specified every detail. Windows and mirrored walls were inserted, giving panoramic views of the Mediterranean. The interior stairs, built so that Antonioni could watch Vitti descend, were granite slabs plugged precariously into the wall. The exterior stairs wound their way, dramatically, down the cliffs to the sea.

Antonioni's Dome

Vitti and Antonioni holidayed at the house for three years. After their relationship ended in 1972, the director continued to go there with his new wife Enrica Fico. By the Eighties, however, the region was teeming with tourists, and the reclusive director took his leave. Sadly, Antonioni’s dome house fell into disrepair, and now sits dilapidated on the clifftop. A relic of innovative Sixties architecture and of a long-gone love affair.

Bini’s domes, however, took on a life of their own. Dante Bini had received worldwide attention in 1967, when he erected a 50ft tall Binishell dome at Columbia University in less than two hours. Following that, he oversaw the creation of more than 1,600 Binishells in 23 countries, including a smaller dome, Piccola Cupola, for Italian painter Sergio Vacchi near La Cupola. To this day, his son Nicoló Bini continues to promote the architectural method through the company Binisystems.

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Antonioni’s dome house is not open to the public. However, if you’d like to stay in your own dome home, we have a few on BoutiqueHomes: the Dome Villas in Lombok, Indonesia (designed by Wolfgang Widmoser); the Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs (Buckminster Fuller and Pavlina Williams); and the Vineyard Dome House in Paso Robles, California (Buckminster Fuller).

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