2faces of the building

arch visual


This project’s aim is to travel around four italian popular quartiers, in Florence, Bolonia, Rome and Genoa. These quartiers were born during the years of the economic boom, that is to say at the end of the 50’s. The economic boom created the positive conditions for the construction boom of the ‘60. The gross flow of migration, the considerable increase of incomes, and a rapid demographic growth represented just some of the causes of the phenomenum. But, as it is commonly known, every considerable changement brings serious difficulties. Cases of abusivism and no respect of the legislative system are only some of the problems that nowadays remain. The technicians who, attracted by easy profits, speculate on this kind of projects has to be considered the real responsible of the situation. Each of them tried to protect his proper interests, with the result of edifying everywhere without paying attention. They speculated on the construction technologies, privilaging the one of the concrete, because it was cheaper and faster, but also other low price and second hand materials. But that’s not all. Other responsible has been identified: politician and finance operator have concretely and substantially contributed to the negative speculation’s effects on the innocent people.


The absence of urbanistic regulations for a growing population created a lot of social problems. These were provoqued by a wild and uncontroled urbanization, and by the building speculation.

For this reason Italy changed its own phisionomy and, from a agricultural based country, it became a built up area of big industrial complexes. The reinforced concrete became the new common denominator, especially where the aesthethic disappeared. The solution was found in building the quartiers in the peripheric areas of the cities, which would have been regularly built in the historical centres. It was commonly thought that these quartiers would have been integrated consequently thanks to the social peace and the progress. A real illusion. The consequent ghettoization, caused by the urbanistic plans and the aesthethic needs inspired by the big industrial cities of the north of Europe, was inevitable. The cement invaded our urban centres but, above all, our peripheries. These lasts became aseptic and without any personalization. Unfortunately, the architectonical debate did not focus on these negative consequences, ignoring the potential social risks of them.


The Corviale in Rome, the Biscione in Genoa, the Piagge in Florence, and finally the Pilastro of Bologna represent all the best and the worst of that period. The best, because anyway they represent the big investmentes of that time. The worst because the problematics linked to them have been concretely and considerbly important.

The rational structural schemes, based on the box system of cement, are nowadays vomited by these structures. All the difficulties of this material appear evident. At the “Biscione” in Genoa the structure tend to vomit the iron, and furthermore the structural collapsing is in the eyes of the public.

But it is not only a problem of a structural collapsing, but also of a real stress of the perspective drawing’s modularity: the grey dominate the scene, the impression of the symmetry and a considerable ripetitivity are only some of the reasons that contribute to this kind of perception

All this has as a direct consequence the one of alienate the individual, which has to face enormous and repetitive architecture. This individual become, in this way, only “one of the others”.


The exemplar models of that period were the ones of the big develepped cities. Urbanistic and aesthethical concepts have been taken from Russia and Germany.Infact, these quartiers born as worker class dormitories, but also as a refugee for the unemployed people. From the one hand the basic ideological concept could be conisdered positive, because these quartiers were built to protect the disadvantaged working class. But on the other hand, this protection meant crowded palaces made of second hand and rough material. Further more, these quartiers were place wery far from the city centre life, as for example the Corviale in Roma, which is 15 km far from the Colosseum as some residents told us.

In the earlier pictures of the Pilastro in Bolognia we can easily notice the lonelyness of the buildings, the absence of the basic services and of any kind of social assistance. The same can be said for Florence. In fact, according to the first 1962 project 14 000 of inhabitants were thought to be arrived in a peripheric area, 10 km far from the Duomo. In this area only some sand excavations had been done. All these quartiers were thought to answer to a urgent need. They didn’t mind solving the most basic and natural urbanistic problems like transports, services, and aggregational centers. This unconsciousness was based on their certainity that these areas would be one day inglobed by the rising city expantion. A vain hope.


From the moment in which the inhabitants begun to flow in the “eco monters”, all the negative impacts became evident. Drug traffic, abusivism, micro-criminality and, in some cases, also episodes of deaths. For instance, concerning the drug traffic, the so called “Serpentone” in Rome offered a very good hide for who control the drug traffic. This was because the architectural structure permited a lot of ways to escape. But also the “piagge” has experienced a lot of integrational problems among the inhabtans of the different cities areas. At the biscione, roberies are quite frequent, and also in this case it is because of the architectural plan.

Popular architecture were built without paying attention on people’s social needs.

It is finally important to remind that, in these areas, for the first time different cultures and ways of life were constraint to cooperate and live together.


It is important to highlight that human beings are pushed by their difficulties to find the solution to their problems. The human reaction to those kind of problematics can be a desire of revenge. In fact, the individual want ot protect himself, his family and his proper dignity of human being. Associations and representations of those citizens have started to born, develop and grow. From them, a lot of ideas have born, and these ideas have ameliorate the lifes of lots of citizens. Aggregation moments have start the process of requalification of those areas. These projects represent a real hope for the future of those innocent people.

YEAR: november2014

LOCATION:Roma, Genova, Blogna, FIrenze / IT