At a time of economic crisis and an increasingly more unstable socio-political situation the philosophy underlying the survey of Italian architecture presented in this issue appears particularly appropriate. With the end of the season of large urban transformations that saw architecture play a leading role, from the midpoint of the last century onward, the scenario of reference has changed entirely. A territory saturated with constructions, scarce economic and environmental resources and increasingly more evanescent social situations are pushing architecture to search for a new dimension capable of uniting creativity and poetics with pragmatism and common sense. The projects presented in this issue incorporate the need for this change, proposing an approach that is both coherent with and suitable to specific needs, objectives of development and available resources in a territory as variegated and rich with both historical and environmental values as Italy. They are small projects, inserted with poise in diverse landscapes across the country: from small mountainous settlements where, due to progressive depopulation, the problem is that of identifying strategies for re-launching an entire territory, but also working to modernise the language of architecture based on a logic that extends the historic and anthropological identity of local tradition into residual or marginal areas, to be requalified and reinserted within the urban system through the definition of new functions and elements of a new identity.
This project is part of the integrated “Diffused Hotel” project promoted by the Council of Tourism of the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and financed y European funding. The project was created to recover abandoned rural onstructions through the promotion of a form of sustainable tourism comprised f small units distributed across the territory, connected by a common functional and cultural programme and identity. Small new “communities” capable f revitalising and re-inhabiting parts of the Alpine territory currently bandoned and in a significant state of decline. The Ceschia and Mentil project s inserted within this programme with intelligence and originality, offering a ery interesting paradigmatic example.
The result of an invited competition for architects under the age of 35, the new Cles community centre, in the province of Trento, immediately became a point of reference for all of the area’s inhabitants, who see the new structure as an important meeting space and part of the identity of the entire community. The primary objective of the architectural project was to integrate the new building with the existing historic structures and the pattern of fruit orchards that design the rural territory of the Val di Non. The building is compact and finished entirely in larch wood. The north and south façades are characterised by vertical slats, while the long sides to the east and west are defined by a succession of wooden columns, also in larch wood, that make the building an integral part of the landscape, blending in with backdrop of apple orchards, such that it seems it was always there.
This project belongs to a series of operations involving existing buildings that, in only a few decades, have led to the rebirth of a small village. Beginning in the mid-80s the local municipality and private subjects decided to invest in the recovery and re-launching of existing built heritage as a lever for reactivating the area and its communities. There was an almost immediate halt to processes of abandonment, with a gradual reappropriation of the village by the population and an increase in its potential as an attraction for cultural initiatives. Situated in the heart of a late medieval settlement, the Lou Pourton Centre hosts intellectual, educational and training initiatives. The name of the building is a direct reference to a local typology of settlement: a pourton is a covered path that, following a contour line of the terrain, allows access to buildings both above and below its passage. Similarly, the central circulation of the cultural centre links, on the ground and first floor, imposing stone masses used for different activities.
This house is situated in the midst of a small row of brick houses at the upper edge of a sloping hillside. The project responds not only to the rural constructions around it, but also to the natural landscape of the valley in front of it. Resting atop a level change between a lawn and a forest of chestnut trees, the house is set between the walls of its neighbours. While respecting their primary characteristics at the same time it describes a new architecture through the hybridisation of local materials and those of other traditions, uses and technologies. Despite its differences, the building does not alter the landscape and ensures a balance and continuity with its context: the treatment of the two elevations, as well as the language of the architectural composition itself, immediately speak of the search for new contaminations of different materials and languages.
In 2014 the Town of Cesano Maderno announced an invited competition for the design of a new Bicycle Parking Station to be located on a small lot inside a park and ride, in a marginal and unpretentious two-dimensional landscape. The competition was won by LFL Architetti, who transformed critical elements into opportunities in a project that redeems this space and elevates it to an urban space marked by quality. This process of requalification is based on two fundamental operations: the definition of a sign, of an edge that identifies a precise and recognisable open space, and the insertion, in this new field, of a small transparent object hosting the new Bicycle Parking Station. While the first operation takes form through the construction of a service wall, the second occurs with the design of a small structure that can store up to 160 bicycles.
This building containing six apartments in the periphery of Sesto San Giovanni is situated in a part of the city devoid of almost any memory or drive toward aggregation. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that the entire area of Sesto San Giovanni has for some time been seeking a new identity and leave behind its former industrial vocation. In this “fluid” and disaggregating context, the monolithic appearance of this building and the recourse to forms and materials sedimented in the minds of local residents speak of choices intent on making this building a possible centrality for this area of the periphery.The apartments substitute a hayloft that was about to collapse. The regulations that permitted its demolition imposed, however, that the new construction respect both the original volume and materials. The architects converted this tight restriction into a creative resource.
Contrary to the requisites of lightness typical of the architecture of the twenty-first century, the buildings of this Brescia-based architect are characterised by the exposed materiality of blind surfaces, hermetic elevations and a vigorous connection with the ground.This approach is also evident in the recent Villa Alps, clinging to the rocky face of a steeply sloping site at 700 meters above sea level near Brescia, close to the Passo del Cavallo which unites the Val Trompia with the Val Sabbia. The site embraces the final portion of the inhabited area of Lumezzane. On one side the view expands over the city and the valley, on the other it is circumscribed by the forests and ridges of the mountains.The topography of the site and its views dictated the layout of the spaces of the home. The irregular plan of the home, a narrow horseshoe shape wrapping the court, is defined by three volumes with differing heights.
An imposing material object with a profound emotional impact on his urban surroundings, the Holocaust Memorial occupies a 40 sqm area in a public plaza at the intersection of Via dè Caracci and Via Matteoti, atop the railway station. Set perpendicular to the large walls of the plaza, the monument consists of two 10×10 meter parallelepipeds, opaque on the sides, facing the city and open on the interior. Both elements are clad entirely in untreated cor-ten steel. Symmetrically facing one another, the two blocks converge to define a unique path that tapers from 1.60 meters to 80 centimetres. During the day the space between the two blocks is cast in shadow, while at night an intense light illuminates the path between them, amplifying the monumental value of the two metal volumes. This device generates a spatial experience charged with tension and pervaded by a sensation of oppression, further exalted by a grid of 10 meter plates that, intersecting at 90°, form narrow rectangular openings in memory of the dark cells of the dormitories of the internment camps.
The earthquake that shook the region of Emilia on the 20 May 2012 damaged a vast number of homes and public and scholastic buildings. Amidst the controlled frenzy of reconstruction, one project stands out for the elegance and intelligence of its construction: the municipal nursery school in Guastalla, designed by Mario Cucinella Architects and completed in only a few months, between 2014 and 2015. The result of an integrated tender call announced in 2013, the building substitutes two previous nursery schools damaged by the earthquake. The linear arrangement of the plan, a primarily horizontal volume and a rhythm of structural frames; the elements of architecture embraced by Mario Cucinella during his time as an apprentice in the office of Renzo Piano, between 1987 and 1992, elements which can be found in some of the famous architect’s masterpieces.
This project for a home-office and pets recovery qualifies a fragment of Rome’s peri-urban landscape through the insertion of a small functional hybrid that proposes the coexistence between residential spaces and spaces of work. This presence of different activities is manifest in the organisation of the project by parts set in the natural landscape; within the gently sloping territory of olive groves of the Sabina region, the project introduces an orthogonal pattern of multiple elements that establish a set of specific relational hierarchies. The focal point of the system is the volume of the house with the annexed veterinary clinic, situated in a dominant position and structured by a compact wall that wraps it to the north and is interrupted toward the south to embrace the landscape.
Situated in the area of Boraco, along the coast between Taranto and Gallipoli, the tower rises just 250 meters from the water’s edge, though from a height of 14 meters above sea level. The works, initiated in 2010 and lasting for two years, dealt with an already highly compromised situation. The vault of the roof had collapsed, pulling down the roof structure and part of the walls. The building rests on a rocky outcropping and rises 12.10 meters above the ground. Firmly rooted to the site by a “solid” ground floor, the “piano nobile” consists of a single space measuring 5.45 x 5.60 meters, at 5.50 meters above the ground. The reconstructed vaulted roof, whose primary axis runs perpendicular to the coastline supports an accessible terrace. The thickness of the external masonry walls of the upper level contain a fireplace, a ladder stair to the rooftop and a cistern for rainwater.
Architecture for industry necessarily feeds on the dialogue between machine and territory. The machine is the expression of function, “of elements connected as a consequence of the needs of production”. The territory is the “large container”, the sum of all those systems, fabrics and realities involved in the processes of production. It is also the result of the processes that have generated and transformed it over time, inexorably contributing to defining its identity. These are the premises underlying the project by Rango e Casciu. In this sense the buildings of craftsmen or for agriculture and more in general for production are an integral part of the construction of a territory, precisely for the contribution they make to its transformation, to its vocations, to the landscape.
Permeable in all directions and clinging to the side of a hill, this construction is situated along the trajectory of the inter-urban road running along the edge of the city walls to the north-east. This multipurpose complex presents itself to the ancient city as a point of entrance and a hub. It is inserted within the last fully urban outpost of the system that, during the 1990s, was identified by Bernardo Secchi as one of the key figures of his Master Plan for the city of Siena: the Strada Fiume. Not a simple road infrastructure, but a territorial mechanism designed to connect and organise peri-urban settlements and provide the historic city with functional hinges and points of access along its eastern edge, generally perceived as the “back”. In clear opposition to planning practices that favour the zoning and the specialization of urban areas, this project by Nepi channels and summarises many of city’s functions.
- XXIII Triennale di Milano. 21st Century. Design After Design - Pag. 92
- Mobilità urbana: nuovi approcci ed esperienze – Pag. 89
– XV Biennale di Architettura. Reporting from Venezia Pag. 94
- Industrializzare l’edilizia. Le nuove condizioni di efficienza di un’edilizia capace di futuro - Pag. 100
– Gustavo Giovannoni tra storia e progetto: bilancio di una mostra – Pag, 104
LIBRI - Pag. 109
NOTIZIE - Pag. 110
PANTOGRAFO – Pag. 117
Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian