Curated by Daniela Brignone and Valentina Bruschi

Due to its geographical position, Palermo has always been a crossroads of civilizations, home of several aristocratic dynasties, but also a place of passage for storytellers who have told its complex history and beauties. The city is more than just a display of art, culture, traditions: it is the expression of a rich syncretism which, over thousands of years, has unified distant countries and has given it its current multi-faceted physiognomy. Talking about Palermo therefore means telling centuries of Mediterranean history. A story that has always moved around the relationship between the city and its sea and which in Greek times imposed the name of Panormos, meaning “all port” or “everywhere is harbour”.

The favourable position created the fortune of the city over time. A city that grew up on the sea and that has drawn its lifeblood from the sea. An element that Palermo is developing further through redevelopment projects aimed at recovering its coasts and ancient maritime cultures.

A relationship, that between Palermo and the sea, which inspired the design of Unexpected Homes, wooden buildings conceived by the creativity of the Palermo artist and architect Giuseppe Amato, unreal but feasible architectures born from the interaction between a mood and an imaginary place. A place that can become concrete and that has a very specific connotation: the Foro Italico of Palermo with its 30,000 square meters. which summarizes the past, present and future of the city and in which it is possible to imagine "unexpected houses".

The starting point of Amato's analysis is the concept of ruin from which the hypothesis of integration and transformation arises through a transformative restoration.

Three of these projects have been selected for the exhibition. Each of them expresses a link with history, culture and sustainability and, at the same time, projects the city into the future.







The Nautoscopio is the most famous of these project because it has been actually built. For ten years now its prototype has stood on the promenade of the Foro Italico like a control tower, a utopian observation point between land and sea that turns its gaze towards the cities of the world.

The Nautoscopio, literally "location to observe ships in transit", creates the interaction between sculpture, architecture, mechanical engineering and cabinet-making, in a single built object. An indicator of places that allows you to enjoy the landscape from a privileged position. Refuge that revolves around the mast of a sailing ship, the Nautoscopio lifts itself 20 metres above the sea, with the only force of the arms, ideally and symbolically opening our vision on the world. Entirely financed by private individuals, the Nautoscopio exists in Palermo as an incubator of proposals and ideas to share: for years it has hosted theatrical performances, debates, conferences, book presentations, as well as an exclusive place for dinners, tastings of products of local excellence, for conversation and meditation.

The construction synthesizes centuries of culture that have made Palermo the capital of the Mediterranean; a meeting point between peoples of any race also determined by the happy geographical position of the island of Sicily, in the centre of the Mediterranean. An open door that underlines the meaning of welcome, and an outlook on the world, a starting point, of birth, of civilizations and cultures, of syncretic relationships that have determined the current culture of the city.







Concepcion, unlike the Nautoscopio which stands majestically, enters into what is submerged, feeds on stories and legends that fuel the imagination. Amato starts from the ruin of a sanded wreck of a ship from the 2nd millennium BC. to imagine a story featuring linguists and philologists travelling on the ship together with a precious load: hundreds of volumes, a real floating library. Traces of the ship are lost, buried in the sand. A Sicilian archaeologist rediscovers the site and the ancient project of Eratosthenes of Cyrene: to spread the written word all over the known world of the time. Eratosthenes of Cyrene's dream translates into the design of the entire architectural complex: the paper mill and the archives and the library. Concepcion, like all the other projects, is also dedicated to the history of Palermo and its role in the Mediterranean. Bringing the ship back to light, to life, takes on a symbolic meaning: to dig into the past in order to bring it back into the present, which connects with the place chosen as a location and the idea of building it with the waste materials of the bombings of World War II.



Sixty Tons

The concept of sustainability is linked to the third project. Sixty Tons references the actual 60 tons of a self-supporting structure resting on rocks, completely self-sustainable, created from a pre-existing main tower used by fishermen to dry fish. Designed for the island of Brijuni, it was conceived as a strategic outpost to be used as a luxurious accommodation for guests of the family who owned the

The concept of sustainability is linked to the third project. Sixty Tons, the 60 tons of a self-supporting structure resting on the rocks, completely self-sustainable, was born from a pre-existing main tower used by fishermen to dry fish. Designed for the island of Brijuni (Croatia), on the Adriatic sea, it was conceived as a strategic outpost to be used as a luxurious accommodation for guests of the owners of island. The wood used is also sustainable: coming from Slavonia, it is chosen among the shrubs that die spontaneously, whilst remaining in a vertical position, destined to be cut down or burned. Amato retrieves them and uses them. It is a wood that begins to mature before it is even cut and for this reason it is “incorruptible” as it is not subject to particular natural changes. This method was patented by Amato with the name of “Stagionato alla radice” ("Seasoned at the root").


Overlooking the coast of Palermo, the Loggiato San Bartolomeo is the most suitable location for the exhibition: it stands like a tower that dominates and acts as a hinge between the territory and the sea. The former seventeenth-century hospital is now an exhibition space with large windows and a panoramic terrace that allow a direct view of the actual Nautoscopio. It is desirable to schedule the exhibition starting from the Summer 2020 in order to hypothesize evening collateral activities at the nearby Nautoscopio.  


The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue that will contain the texts of the curators, the drawings and renderings of the projects and the images of the Nautoscopio. The volume will illustrate the genesis of the creative process for each project, its meanings and potential. 


Giuseppe Amato was born in Palermo, Sicily, 1970. Starting as a biologist specializing in whales behavior at the University of Pavia, Giuseppe later has learned the art of design from his life mentor Sory Yanagi in Japan. 


His works were presented at ICFF in New York ADC, Isetan Department Store Gallery in Tokyo, Hankyu Gallery, Osaka, the 11th Istanbul Biennial and Moleskine Detour at the Museum Santral Istanbul and the Moma Design Store in Tokyo.

The Unexpected Homes series, dwellings conceived as installations of Public Art, started with the prototype Nautoscopio. After its presentation at the Green Energy Design Exhibition curated by Interni Magazine, with Philippe Stark, Toyo Ito, Michele De Lucchi and Ron Arad (model scale 1:5), his 36-tons visionary construction has been constructed in Palermo's harbour in 2009, becoming today one of the city's symbols. 


Chosen sketches of the Nautoscopio are published in the volume curated by Moleskine, Sotheby's and FAI La mano del Designer, 460 autografed drawings by 150 of the most prominent contemporary designers.

In 2010 Giuseppe Amato had partecipated at 12a Biennale Internazionale di Architettura, in Venice, at Mapping Contemporary Venice, with Moleskine and VIU, Venice International University. In 2019 Giuseppe Amato had partecipated at FutuRuins, an art exhibition at Fortuny Palace in Venice, with other works from Venetian Civic Museums and the State Hermitage Museum.

Giuseppe Amato lives and works primary in Milan, where his studio specializes in interior design of selected private houses, restaurants, and boutique stores. 

​Giuseppe Amato also worked and collaborated with Institutions and Companies, like: Aveda, Branca, Brioni, Caruso, FAI, Fastweb, Hankyu, ICFF, Isetan, Moleskine, Sotheby's, Vibram.




For any further information, please call Giuseppe Amato Studio, Milano - ph. +39 3389856991


Alzaia Naviglio Grande 26, 20144 Milano, Italy

107 Suffolk St. New York, 10002 NY, USA




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