Italy Architecture Part I
As a consequence of the economic transformations of Italian society, designers were asked to take into account the strong disparities existing between different geographical areas, between various places in the same area, between the center and the periphery of a city. Industrial development has made more acute the problem of linking modernity and tradition, new interventions and the pre-existing environment, which very often in Italy is of extraordinary quality. Furthermore, it was required to adapt design methods and construction techniques to the means that industrial development itself has made available.
According to HEALTH-BEAUTY-GUIDES, the concern to seek appropriate solutions to the lives of immigrants and underclass – very different from the workers in the factories for which public housing was mainly intended in that part of Europe that had been the cradle of architectural renewal – had already been the driving force behind the experiences of greater importance at least for a decade after the war. An interest in the minor architecture of ancient districts or old towns and villages, in order to find support points for operating in our times, was traceable even before the war in an exhibition and a book prepared for the Milanese Triennale by G Pagano, leader of the Italian architectural renewal, which fell in the extermination camp of Mauthausen. It was still traceable during those years in purely modern proposals of Mediterranean architecture advanced by the Neapolitan L. Cosenza together with B. Rudofsky, in some specific interventions such as the buildings for farms built in Lombardy by M. Asnago and C. Vender and by P. Bottoni, G. Mucchi and M. Pucci. Such an interest became dominant in the inexpensive housing complexes built by the Ina-casa starting in 1949; in many cases it was reduced to a superficial revival of formal motifs, but was charged, albeit a little artificially, with multiple intentions in examples such as the nuclei of houses in Cerignola by M. Ridolfi, in Gavorrano in Maremma by E. Sgrelli, or Falchera districts in Turin (arch. G. Astengo, N. Renacco and others) and Tiburtino in Rome (arch. Ridolfi, L. Quaroni, F. Gorio, M. Fiorentino and others). Some members of theTiburtino team (Quaroni, Gorio, PM Lugli, M. Valori) are designers of the most emblematic example of the guidelines followed then, the village La Martella near Matera, intended to welcome peasants from the Sassi, the agglomeration of semi-painted houses described by C. Levi in Christ stopped at Eboli. There was a link between that kind of design research and neorealism. The long time to pass from the conception to the completion of an architecture contradicted the immediacy typical of neorealist interventions. These were characterized by a strong will to denounce, to which it was impossible to assign as much value in the field of urban planning and construction, since here the awareness of the conditions to be transformed must be accompanied immediately by proposals to transform them.
For various reasons – from acting in conditions more similar to the South, to having more contacts with the centers of political life and cultural production, in the cinema and in other sectors, similarly oriented – among groups of designers of advanced ideas, the Roman one at that time assumed a leading role, vigorously supported by the work of cultural organization and propaganda in favor of FL Wright and of organic architecture passionately conducted by B. Zevi, openly critical of W. Gropius and Le Corbusier. The designers who, conversely, at the time did not distance themselves from the experiences of functional architecture, counted themselves as few exceptions. In Rome A. Libera (the author of the house of Malaparte in Capri) for the horizontal housing unit in the Tuscolano district referred to a proposal already advanced by Italy Diotallevi, F. Marescotti and Pagano. In Genoa, the residential complexes designed, together with others, by LC Daneri were characterized by typological research and the standardization of construction elements. In Milan, coinciding with the first post-war Triennial, Bottoni had promoted the construction of the QT8 according to rationalist schemes, to which the Ina-casa “Harrar” district was less directly related, where quite heterogeneous designers, headed by L. Figini and G. Pollini and G. Ponti, anticipated the criterion of mixed development, that is, the combination of low-rise single-family homes and high-rise apartment houses, even “duplexes”, which would have been widely adopted by London County Council.
But in general the influence of the Roman neorealists extended to the north, in works such as the hotel for young people in Cervinia by F. Albini or the house for a winemaker in Broni by Italy Gardella, both of the most consistent supporters of the principles of modern movement in the polemics preceding 1945. However, it should be emphasized that in the drawings of the northern designers certain solutions of minor or popular architecture were not taken up with the often somewhat heavy immediacy of Italy central or southern, but they were filtered by greater control, as in the works of the Cooperative architects and engineers of Reggio Emilia, a city where E. Manfredini also stood out, or were subtly reinterpreted through skilful and sophisticated exercises, as in one of the first works of GA and P. Monti,