20 December 2019
“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.”
The urban plan for the project – entrusted to Albini, Albricci, Belgiojoso, Gardella, Peressutti and Rogers, was drastically cut down to work that had already begun, compromising the final configuration of the district, its “urbanistic balance” resting on the careful “study of the external relations between the new residential hub and the existing town of Cesate and the internal relations between the habitations and the centre and the general services.”
Article on the Cesate District, in “Casabella Continuità, 216, 1957
The project was drawn up by architects of common accord: of the same generation, the first of the so-called Rationalist architects in Italy; the same training school, i.e. the Milan Polytechnic University; antifascist militancy and civic commitment; leanings towards a universe of figurative principles and values represented by modern architecture, and lastly their collaboration in various urban and architectural design projects.
In this, as in other post-war projects, Albini was exploring the volumetric autonomy of the staircase, a theme that became one of the main hallmarks of his modus operandi.