31 January 2020

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.”

Workers’ housing for INCIS at Vialba – Milan, 1951-53

The stairway – an element in its own right, free of the building volume – independent of corridors/walkways serving several dwellings on each floor, is one of the fundamental hallmarks of buildings designed by Franco Albini in Vialba.

The disassembly and reassembly of the residential volume into staggered, rotated prisms makes for a polygonal footprint that envelops the stairway. This solution, adopted for the first project proposal, which also provided for glass walls to enclose the staircase, was altered in the definitive version, in which one end of the polygon was opened up and the last two dwellings brought into line.

An entire part of each dwelling is rotated on the plan at right angles to the dwelling itself, a solution that allows for its polygonal development.

Albini and Piero Bottoni initially drew up a number of alternative plans, and it is interesting to compare the purity of Bottoni’s ‘classical’ Rationalism in the adjacent aligned buildings with the disaggregated volumes so typical of Albini’s work.

#Franco Albini, #social housing, #architecture, #Milano, #Piero Bottoni, #city