illustris, darkness lit represents the first vernacular translation of a romanian architectural element to hold light. The lamp has been designed and registered by Traian Tuță.
The project is based on an architectural observation regarding a vernacular element found in romanian traditional houses. The sculptural reinterpretation of the vertical support beams found on the houses’ porches can be seen in the playful and gentle removal of wooden prisms found on the edge of the block of wood.
A gesture of merely exposing the interior space of the wooden block, becomes a vertical show of glimmering light.
click the lamp for purchase or scroll down for story
the traditional house
Across the country, the romanian traditional house knows several different architectural iterations. Given the wide range of landscape qualities, one can find delta, open plain, hill or mountain typologies. Between these typologies, each house responds to different activities or needs, be them agricultural, cattle related or weather related.
Houses vary in size, rooms vary in number and purpose, exterior porches vary in usable area, the space inside the roofs vary in height according to purpose or geographical location.
Throughout the typologies, the purpose of the vernacular romanian family was shared in the need of working land, growing cattle or manufacturing textiles. By also having to deal with the natural elements, the exterior and interior design of the houses was clever to the tiniest of details : mechanism to open doors, using water as power for mills, storing meat in the space above the rooms – inside the roof, shingle roofs.
At the end of the day, the house remained a safe environment where the family gathered to eat around a circular table, work on textile clothing, carpets or rest.
During the summer periods, some of the sleeping occured outside, on the houses’ porch, which has remained a generaly open space for all typologies.
the interior space
The interior space of the house had particular areas linked to the activities of the family members.
These activities worked around set characteristics of the spaces, such as : the porch, the small lobby, the room for living and the clean room where good furniture and clothing was kept, and also where the guests would be welcomed.
And so, the woman would look after this clean room as well as the porch. Her husband would deal with repairing household tools and the courtyard chores. While the woman dealt with the summer kitchen, bread oven, the pantry, the well, the vegetable and flower garden and the bird coops, the mans’ tasks were related to the field work, household repairs and the large animals.
This permeable threshold acted as a multi purpose space through out the year. It provided storage space and extra sleeping space during the summer season, being essentially an open extension of the interior spaces.
Whether it was positioned on one facade of the traditional house, or on all four, this physical reach into the houses’ exterior context connected the houses’ spaces to the vegetable and flower garden, surrounding scenery, the private well, or the gate entrance to the property.
Cold seasons turned the porch into a safe space, away from rain or snow.
light in the house
The vernacular living style of the family was closely connected to the amount of daylight available. Depending on the season, the family would have to complete its chores before the sun set. Due to the lack of electricity in the vernacular houses, the families often relied on candles, oil lamps and gas lamps. The number of candles or fuel lit lamps depended on the economic status of each household. Assuming the presence of up to 3-4 fuel lamps for a well off family, it is easy to understand the importance of the light where only one lamp was present.
Gathered around a central small table, the family members would come together for the evening supper in the presence of a glimmering light source, that was essentially their only reference point in the intimate private space they all had to share.
As night time came and depending on the amount of light that was present inside the house, the porch acted as a stage, revealing windows, curtains, different crude materials, household tools.
Its support beams were seen as misterious silhouettes against the lit windows of the house.
By imbuing soul into the wooden columns and trying to expand the household space using the light that was present in the nightime, the porches’ columns triggered an emotional response to light, becoming themselves the lights' identity.
Projecting light from and onto the traditional lifestyle, it can be argued that the space destined for privacy, family and safety has been lit.