Cladding today represents a way to screen the building, to create a filter between the exterior and interior, to design the facades.
In fact it covers a multiplicity of functions and, sometimes, some famous contemporary architecture projects are identified by cladding itself. When we think of these iconic buildings, it is the image of the architectural skin that immediately comes to mind.
However, this way of doing architecture is quite recent, because it is closely linked with current technological possibilities. Once upon a time, although at its dawn, the first concept of decoration and then coating already existed.
We got to see in another content, how Greek and Roman architecture used decorations to give a self-image different from pure matter. And, later, the decoration became a real cladding.
But, nowadays, the cladding is no longer intended as a simple decoration, as an embellishment. It is rather a way to design the relationship between exterior and interior.
This problem was also known to the ancients, who already posed the problem of how to interface between the two dimensions. Homer, in the Odyssey, mentions the mègaron, or the hall of honour at the palace of Ulysses.
One of the first cases in which we find a mègaron of relevance is in the palace of Mycenae, in 1200 BC. It, one of the cardinal rooms of the complex and is positioned following a series of passages and colonnades. These initial rooms, placed in an intermediate position between the entrance and the mègaron itself, act as an architectural filter, in a sort of gradient in the path from outside to inside.
This is a key concept that will be repeated many times in the future. The architects immediately felt the need to cultivate, educate, enrich the physical transition from nature to domestic environments, so that the individual perceived a parallel between the physical path and the spiritual path.
Over time, Greek temples developed these themes in an illustrious way.
The temple of Apollo in Thermos dates back to 630 BC and has, along its entire perimeter, a colonnade, the so-called pteron, which follows the diaphragmatic function described above.
Plan of the temple of Apollo, Thermos
In 550 BC, less than a hundred years later, an unprecedented form of maturity was achieved. In the temple of Hera in Samos there is a double colonnade that emphasises the sense of depth for those who observe from the outside to the inside and ensures that those residing in the heart of the temple have the perception of all that is outside is much farther when in reality it is not.
Plan of the temple of Hera, Samos
These lessons were also adopted by the Romans, who, masters in the use of the arch, managed to create even wider spans. The Roman baths are, in this sense, examples of architecture in which the dichotomous concept of exterior and interior is almost lost, and upon entering, one has the feeling of never being completely inside and never completely outside architecture until the most central areas are not reached, in an incredible expansion of the spaces. The Romans also left us the first basilicas, from which our Romanesque, Gothic churches and so on derive.