Gonçalo M. Tavares 

The inside of a house is the result of a giant excavation.

Excavation is a form of sculpture – and sculpture is a form of excavation, one might say.

To sculpt is to excavate stone – it is to excavate horizontally rather than vertically. It is to excavate not just matter, from left to right and from right to left, but air too; to give shape to the air which remains between materials placed above ground. What is taken from the stone is not just pieces of matter which occupy space. Also taken are pieces of matter which appear to occupy no space at all. The invisible air takes shape by surrounding the hard, visible matter from which the sculpture is made. Sculpture gives shape both to matter, and to the invisible. The invisible becomes that which surrounds a form, a kind of negative image of solid matter, with an identity of its own. The more personality the solid part of a sculpture has, the more original its negative, that invisible anatomy which scrupulously and accurately surrounds the matter.

What shape is the invisible? That is the question to ask when speaking of interiors.

Let us at this stage invoke Heidegger and the function of philosophy: philosophy goes round in circles; it is the opposite of progress in that it does not move forward, instead drawing endless circumferences. And why?

Because it constantly circles the centre, the essential.

Perhaps it could be said that it traces an ever deeper circumference, into which men can fall (and not just men, but also objects, habits, the city). This, then, is what it means to ponder the essential: to constantly circle the same thing, but going deeper each time.

And that, one might say, is also the job of an artist, of an architect, of a writer. Circling the same things, but every day a little deeper.

There is a notable difference here in relation to the concept of technological progress.


shout those who regularly introduce new products; progress as legwork, as forward motion, as ground gained; like someone seeking to put their name on as many square metres as possible. Occupying territory, like an invasion. This is what armies do, just like technology or certain ideas of progress.

Art, architecture, literature and philosophy follow other physical orientations: they go madly round in circles, working frantically, but always within the same square metre. They dig, go underground, return to the surface to breathe, and dig again in the same spot. At most, an architect or an artist turn the ground they have appropriated into a hole, then a well; and as the excavation deepens, a point is reached when they can only be extricated from the well by another, with the aid of a rope or a ladder. Someone must remain at the surface to ensure the safety of the one going down to the bottom.

“Downwards!,” shout those who work in the arts, “ever downwards!”.

Poetry and architecture; space and rhyme.

Mário Quintana, a Brazilian writer and poet, wrote a short text describing a family evening from his childhood in which a relative reads aloud from a poetry book:

“Tralalalala, tralalalala,

Tralalalala, tralalalalala…”

After a while, Gabriela exclaims:

“But it doesn’t rhyme!”

This causes quite a stir, eliciting disbelief all round. Poor Juquinha hurriedly reads out the last two verses…querulous…white…your…inane…vague…infinitely…

Heavens! How could it be?

“The rhyme must be in the middle,” major Pitulga solemnly pronounces.

This is met with a collective sigh of relief.

Well, there it is. In space, in architecture, the rhyme – if it exists – must also be in the middle.

What is the interior of a space? It is the impression of rhyme, of harmony, of material agreement among all the parts. As if the inhabitant were the final rhyme; the rhyme that is in the middle.