Category Archives: LEZIONI

The elementary part of the city

Renato Capozzi – The elementary part of the city

 CLICK HERE    La parte elementare della città_REV




ABSTRACT – The paper reflects on some methodological and operational experiences carried out in the last century and also on the notion of “elementary part” as a method of construction of the residence in the contemporary city in relationship to the nature. The discourse, moving from the Enlightenment’s antecedents as the Squares and Crescents or through the analysis of some projects by the masters of the Modern Movement – also as a critical review of some of his initial assumptions – tries to classify the practice of construction of the city that renounces to the compact city system made by urban blocks, streets, squares and gardens and offers complex neighbour units with large extension and services and free portions of natural soil inside. This hypothesis, that opposing the nineteenth century city, is manifested in projects and constructions that significantly recover the principles of the classical city in a renewed relationship with nature / landscape and with the dialectics between residence and civil centres. An idea of “open and polycentric” city able to contrast the spread of the nebulized city, but without proposing a mere densification but identifying certain repeatable units able to absorb the fragments of the sprawl of the contemporary post-metropolis. Furthermore, this hypothesis can be applied also in some areas of the consolidated city to reintroduce, in its core, selected portions of nature.
The proposed classification is divided into the following sections:
– The classical cities as polycentric city;
– The compact city as unique or whole artifact;
– The city of the Enlightenment: from the square to the courtyard blocks;
– The city of the Modern Movement: utopias, principles and methods;
– The new dimension: quartal, quadras, urban sectors;
– Examples by the masters: Le Corbusier/Hilberseimer/Mies/May;
– The neighbourhood as a self-sufficient part: Libera/Cosenza;
– The idea of the city as set of defined parts: Rossi/Aymonino;
– The idea of polycentric city and elementary part: Monestiroli;
– Development prospects in the periphery and in the consolidated city: Bisogni.
The suggestion structure is defined by investigation of the logical urban composition and by paradigmatic examples taken as reference.       CLICK HERE    La parte elementare della città_REV

Architectural knotting

Architectural knotting

Giuseppe Strappa








Duilio Cambellotti,  L’inizio (The beginning).

The awareness of being able to use primary and universal characters in new architectural organisms, built with innovative techniques, responding to new needs and aesthetic values, constitutes the essence of the transition of European architecture to modernity. Buildings constructed according to these principles represent the vast majority of the renewal of cities in the first forty years of the XXI century. The modern movement experiments, even if useful to explore new ways, are, in fact, a minor and not fundamental part in the real urban transformations, above all in the areas of more rooted masonry-plastic culture.
This explains. for example, how it was possible such an evident continuity in the development of architecture in Italy in the interwar period, even in political conditions inducing a rhetorical interpretation of the historical heritage.
These are durable building organisms, using architectural layouts that are still vital precisely because they have not conformed, over time, to a specific function. They are “generic” organisms in the etymological sense of the term, capable of generating whole families of multiple, new architectures.
Many modern buildings (such as universities, schools, postal buildings) tend in different ways, in continuity with historical processes, to form a society of solidary spaces linked by a common purpose and a common rule. This rule is indirectly derived from the transformation of fabrics, through the permanence of typical structures such as convents or palaces. The beginning of this modern process can be clearly identified in the “urban necessity” of linking the building to the external paths, tightening it, at the same time, around an open space that tends to become the true nucleus of the forming process.

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Giuseppe Strappa

5c – The genesis of the Roman palace, one of the most fruitful events in the entire history of European architecture, indicates a different path to the formation of modern architectural organisms. A phenomenon that can be read clearly in its manifestation as the becoming of the manifold to form unity. As for the Venetian palace, the process that is at the origin of its particular character is not due to the contribution of a small group of architects, but constitutes the collective, living result of the transformations operating in the fabric. It comes to light from successive mutations of the housing aggregates of medieval origin and from the permanence of that ancient substratum which, in Rome, has always constituted an inexhaustible source of renewal.

Its formation process began with the recast, in the 14th-16th century, of simple single-family dwellings to satisfy the need of building new large-scale residences for the emerging political and economical classes.

In the context of an already densely built city, the only one possibility was the progressive acquisition of fabric units, linking them together through a common private, inner path.

Thus, around the central space of the courtyard that brings together the original pertinent areas, a sort of “reversed” fabric is formed, a small introverted city that takes its characters from the external city. The transition from aggregate to building is expressed by unifying the external facades into a single wall merging the single buildings in a common rhythm of openings. The process also establishes a hierarchy between the different parts: ………………..

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The most successful examples of a congruent and proportionate overlap of the modern city with the ancient one is in large part due to the “recasting process” of the existing urban fabric. The act of recasting is not the simple union of elements, it is a plastic modification, a collaboration that implies a structural mutation: the merging and gathering of the individual units into a single whole, into a new unity of a higher degree. The Renaissance palace is, when it derives directly from the fabric, a critical recasting, made with the decisive contribution of the architect who operates the aesthetic synthesis at the end of a “necessary” process. To fully understand its meaning it is essential to mention, at least, the matter of this recast, which, in many areas and especially in Italy, consists of single-family houses.  A particularly significant example, from this point of view, is the form of the dwelling house in the Roman area, whose roots date back to the types used from the XI century, in an environment that, due to the low population density, could be considered in large part semi-rural (26).



Course in Urban Morphology (2019/20)


G. Strappa


The form of the Italian city produced in the Middle Age, often derived from the consumption of decayed ancient  urban organisms, expresses the solidarity between housing units that join together to form higher-level organisms.

This organic character, which binds in one unit different components (the route, the building, the pertinent area) in a “society of houses” is certainly the shared heritage of a building and urban custom that was born in the Roman world and is, in turn, linked to a cultural koinè that belongs to the Mediterranean masonry -plastic world. Tacitus had clearly focused on this subject by noting, by difference, the “serial” character of Germanic settlements: “Vicos locant non in nostrum morem conexis et coherentibus aedificiis: suam quisque domum spatio circumdat, sive adversus casus ignis remedium sive inscitia aedificandi” (1). The type of housing at the origin of most of the formative processes of the Italian cities developed starting from the XIII-XIV century is above all the row-house, declined in different local variants in the whole peninsula, from the Venetian types that translate into masonry building organisms originated from wooden courtyard  matrices, to the markedly plastic examples of central and southern Italy.

This type of dwelling, which communicates through its own forms the predisposition of the single building to collaboration and aggregation, is remarkably constant, It is identifiable in its transformations process, within the different cultural areas, both in the bicellular type (to which reference will mostly be made), and in the monocellular one derived from the consumption of the courtyard house (pseudo row-house)…….

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