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The Labyrinth of La Masone: Franco Maria Ricci’s Neoclassical Enigma

Published on , by Ezra Nahmad

La Masone—a neoclassical-style building standing in a star-shaped bamboo maze not far from Parma, Italy—is both a museum and the work of an outstanding publisher, bibliophile and collector: Franco Maria Ricci.

  The Labyrinth of La Masone: Franco Maria Ricci’s Neoclassical Enigma
The La Masone labyrinth has a crystal-clear layout: the form of a tantric monogram, with symmetries, well-defined orthogonal axes, a chromatic contrast between the red brick and green vegetation, and open, linear perspectives—right through to the project’s ultimate purpose, which becomes apparent as you explore the site. Designed by Franco Maria Ricci (1937-2020), La Masone perfectly illustrates formal perfection in the integration of neoclassical architecture and a unique maze. Yet this manifestation of order and geometry is imbued with a somber sense of vertigo bordering on blindness, deliberately intended and envisioned by Franco Maria Ricci. The venue’s name evokes a myth involving seclusion and the lack of any points of reference: Labirinto, the palace built by Daedalus to contain the Minotaur. The enigma of the place, simultaneously open and closed, simple yet complex, formally transparent but bearing the encrypted, almost paranoid seal of its creator in every nook and cranny, is in a way its reason for being: a way of existing that endeavors to sidestep most of the architectural formulas that come to mind. It is also a tribute…
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