SCALO FARINI AREA IN MILAN VERSION II
LOCATION Milan, Italy
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Tomaso Monestiroli, Claudia Tinazzi
TEAM Luca Cardani, Fabio Sebastianutti
Having already done a project on the same area circumscribes the field of research to the residential block of which several variants are possible. Within the same layout of the road and rail infrastructure and the same design of the green areas, parks and gardens, we posed the problem of defining residential blocks and their possible typological variants. Let us take a courtyard block as an example. Living in a courtyard of large or small size, closed or open, separated or communicating with other courtyards, defines the character of the house place. The court is a concluded place that manifests its original meaning as a domestic place precisely because of its being concluded. In the history of the city, the court type has had a strong permanence precisely because of this meaning.
The courtyard block reproduces on a collective level a value that is specific to the individual house, a value related to the identification of a place and its protection.
A type of dwelling diametrically opposed to the courtyard type is the tower house. The tower establishes relationships with the surrounding landscape, urban or natural. Unlike the courtyard, the tower has no boundaries that demarcate the place of dwelling but, by its definition, overlooks open and boundless places.
Our research, in the second project on the Farini stopover, focused on the courtyard blocks and tower types, with the possible variations and/or additions motivated by their location in the context but also by an idea of the architecture of dwelling places. In the first project we worked on the dimensions of the block by expanding them to a size compatible with the recognition of a delimited place. The second project for the same area is in continuity with the first, with a substantial variant consisting of the desire to accommodate, within the space delimited by the two parallel in-line buildings, other building types organized along the two sides defined by the in-line buildings and on the edge of a wide strip of green in the center of the block that continues into the bordering blocks to the northeast and southwest. The result is a complex block composed of several building types: the in-line houses for the buildings bordering the two sides of the block, the courtyard houses open to the central green, and the tower houses. Three types that offer different choices of ways of living. The block becomes a kind of residential island whose value lies in the diversity of types and their composition into a single architectural system. At this point the architectural language of the individual building is secondary and of little interest. What is important is that the character of the architecture to be built corresponds to that of the planned collective places. Variety, then, will not necessarily come from the linguistic difference between one building and another. Variety will originate from the layout itself and the relationship between different building types.
The issue of the relationship between different buildings and the definition of the form of the resulting places is a theme addressed by Camillo Sitte in his treatise and later abandoned by contemporary urban design practice. The Art of Building the City, published in 1889, contains a great aspiration: that of building the city as a place of the representation of our culture, a place in whose forms we recognize our identity. An idea of the city in which the aesthetic value of urban places is claimed, expressible only through a codification of the rules of its construction. Camillo Sitte insists on the need to recognize in the city the significant places of a culture of living. The theory of the square in his treatise has this meaning: to recognize the places of urban institutions as places of collective being. The reversal of the city-nature relationship, the choice of nature as the context for the construction of the city compels a theory of open spaces, in which nature itself is the space of relations between distinct urban elements. This is the reason why Sitte’s research does not become operative. However, the hypothesis of the city as a work of art remains valid: the form of places will have to be representative. Only the point of view changes. The issue facing the modern city is that of the search for a rule of construction of open spaces. A rule that is as recognized and shared as was that of the enclosed spaces of the pre-nineteenth and nineteenth century city. We believe that the system of places within the block that results from the mutual distances of the buildings (places that are all freely walkable by those who live there, but also by those who use the services con- held in the block: schools, markets, places of culture, etc.) should be the subject of an architectural project that defines the form of each of them and the general form of the block as a place of habitation. In this case we can speak of the architecture of the blocks that have a common layout with respect to which each is built with its own individuality that distinguishes it from the others. One of the factors that distinguishes the ancient city from the modern city is the size of the interventions. Within the large dimensions of the residential blocks of the contemporary city, which are necessary to reduce traffic and create large pedestrian areas within the block, relationships between the parts can be reproduced that define accomplished and unified formal systems. The poor quality of contemporary urban projects, not only in Italy, we believe is due first of all to the crisis of the idea of the permanent city in history, a crisis due to the different point of view on the relationship between the city and nature, but certainly also to the discontinuation of urban studies, which has led to the separation of the architecture of buildings from the architecture of the places where the buildings rise. This relationship, which has always been one of the constituent values of the ancient city, must be established again, within the city of new dimensions in which nature is the new context of construction. This is the direction in which our research wants to go.
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