30 October 2019

Milan’s design culture: life stories as told by the Franco Albini Foundation
Franco Albini: the city

“Architecture is like our conscience. There’s always a moral problem at the root of architecture”
Franco Albini
, 1954

Franco Albini was deeply committed to the field of social housing.

“This was a mandatory field for Albini … as if he were taking a moral stance in a battle in which he takes part because the most onerous commitments of his profession cannot be ignored …”
(Matilde Baffa, La Casa e la Città Razionalista in “Zero Gravity. Franco Albini. Costruire le modernità”, La Triennale di Milano and Electa SpA, Milan 2006).

Albini’s pre-war social housing architecture was informed by references to a European culture still unaffected by the prevailing mood and the rigorous preparation of typological schemes that followed precise distribution and aggregation rules.

The specific nature of his contribution to the post-war architectural field allows us to identify a fresh and precise approach to design matters, a very real “challenge.”

Houses in the "Mangiagalli" District, 1950-52

“Anybody who truly knows how to read architecture recognises the marks and traces of Albini and Gardella’s spiritual journey in these simple workers’ houses. It would be pointless trying to distinguish between each of their contributions, identifying Albini as the author of the stair or Gardella’s sensitivity in the window modules or the rhythm of the side of the buildings.”

Unknown Author, Case nel Quartiere Mangiagalli a Milano, Architetti Franco Albini e Ignazio Gardella, in “L’Architettura. Cronache e Storia”, September 1956

The two buildings are made up of the juxtaposition of identical building types, apart from the different articulation of one of the two ends, a solution employed in a number of different variations.

The building type is composed of two dwellings per floor served by a single staircase, separated from the residential volume and independent of access bridges.

The project is a shrewd, informed blend and synthesis of typological solutions, of elements drawn from the stylistic vocabulary previously employed by Albini and Gardella in their own autonomous projects.

#Franco Albini, #Ignazio Gardella, #architecture, #Milano, #Mangiagalli District, #social housing, #city