Silvio Dante’s Inferno

Laura Lisbona

In the establishment of American domesticity, if the hearth represents the warm and public center of the home, the basement surely represents the opposite—cold, private, and periphery. As a culture we are tantalized by this center of cryptic curiosities. The basement can be a place for concentrated creativity (think Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes), for secret lives (think Tony Soprano in The Sopranos or Geun-sae in Parasite), or for wildly dark plots (think Silence of the Lambs and #pizzagate). Rock stars, delinquent teens, suburban dads, and psychotic killers seem equally adept at making this generic space their own. The basement is a multi-faceted realm ripe for possibilities—a world within another world.

Silvio Dante’s Inferno uses basements as a stage for world building and cultural re-examinations. The thesis shares theoretical territory with work like The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch and the Cenotaph for Newton by Etienne-Louis Boullée—both pieces which illuminate conceptual ideas in spatial forms. Through analog, appropriation, and narrative means of framing and working, Silvio Dante’s Inferno explores a series of 7 basements, each representing one of the 7 Deadly Sins. In order to capture a wider audience and the zeitgeist of the Covid pandemic, these basements are carefully constructed through the lens of 7 corresponding basements from popular culture. For example: a reconstruction of Barbra Streisand’s personal basement mall as a stage for examining gluttony.

The thesis surveys contradictions: light & dark, good & evil, above & below, and public & private. It embraces both the darker and more lighthearted possibilities of the spatial realms. Primary interests of the thesis include: re-thinking the positions of the 7 Deadly Sins, audience construction outside of architecture, and the development of an architectural representation that is interactive and contains the possibility of different endings.

Faculty Advisor: Perry Kulper, Pink Flamingos