The Mediterranean as a Genius Loci

Luigi Cosenza

n 1936 the builder Vincenzo Savarese chose Luigi Cosenza to design an important and delicate project for his home in the recently created and elegant SPEME district in Via Scipione Capece on the Naples Posillipo hillside. At the time Villa Savarese was a single-family home of four-storeys connected by a helicoidal stair providing access to a solarium and with a glass block tower. The two residential levels above ground (day and night functions) are connected by a ramp that evokes Le Corbusier’s promenade architecturale at the Villa Savoye. Along the street the villa sits atop a high artificial base featuring the pedestrian entrance and, to the side, the entrance to the garage, technical rooms and plant rooms. The successive level is a sort of loggia whose rhythm is defined by thin white columns in reinforced concrete, closed on the east side by a row of windows. The spaces at the back host the gym and games room. The solution of the artificial foundation level was necessary to set out from a well-defined ground level, compensating the steep natural slope of the site. The successful choice to differentiate the two levels in their materials and building typologies optically reduces its height to produce a more articulated and lighter overall appearance. Over the course of recent decades Villa Savarese has undergone numerous internal transformations and subdivisions, such that it now consists of diverse units inside the same envelope, whose exterior has remained largely unchanged and as it was conceived by Luigi Cosenza. Luigi Cosenza’s interest in the spontaneous architecture of the Mediterranean followed a logic of cultured re-interpretation and not a passive emulative. This signifies intelligently uniting this research, the Mediterranean as a genius loci, also with Mitteleuropean culture, aulic architecture and the work of his leading contemporaries.

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