La costruzione razionale della casa. Scritti e progetti di Giuseppe Pagano

Cagneschi, Claudia (2009) La costruzione razionale della casa. Scritti e progetti di Giuseppe Pagano, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Composizione architettonica, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/1440.
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The rational construction of the house. The writings and projects of Giuseppe Pagano Description, themes and research objectives The research aims at analysing the architecture of Giuseppe Pagano, which focuses on the theme of dwelling, through the reading of 3 of his house projects. On the one hand, these projects represent “minor” works not thoroughly known by Pagano’s contemporary critics; on the other they emphasise a particular methodological approach, which serves the author to explore a theme closely linked to his theoretical thought. The house project is a key to Pagano’s research, given its ties to the socio-cultural and political conditions in which the architect was working, so that it becomes a mirror of one of his specific and theoretical path, always in a state of becoming. Pagano understands architecture as a “servant of the human being”, subject to a “utilitarian slavery” since it is a clear, essential and “modest” answer to specific human needs, free from aprioristic aesthetic and formal choices. It is a rational architecture in sensu stricto; it constitutes a perfect synthesis between cause and effect and between function and form. The house needs to accommodate these principles because it is closely intertwined with human needs and intimately linked to a specific place, climatic conditions and technical and economical possibilities. Besides, differently from his public and common masterpieces such as the Palazzo Gualino, the Istituto di Fisica and the Università Commerciale Bocconi, the house projects are representative of a precise project will, which is expressed in a more authentic way, partially freed from political influences and dogmatic preoccupations and, therefore, far from the attempt to research a specific expressive language. I believe that the house project better represents that “ingenuity”, freshness and “sincerity” that Pagano identifies with the minor architecture, thereby revealing a more authentic expression of his understanding of a project. Therefore, the thesis, by tracing the theoretical research of Pagano through the analysis of some of his designed and built works, attempts to identify a specific methodological approach to Pagano’s project, which, developed through time, achieves a certain clarity in the 1930s. In fact, this methodological approach becomes more evident in his last projects, mainly regarding the house and the urban space. These reflect the attempt to respond to the new social needs and, at the same time, they also are an expression of a freer idea of built architecture, closely linked with the place and with the human being who dwells it. The three chosen projects (Villa Colli, La Casa a struttura d’acciaio and Villa Caraccio) make Pagano facing different places, different customers and different economic and technical conditions, which, given the author’s biography, correspond to important historical and political conditions. This is the reason why the projects become apparently distant works, both linguistically and conceptually, to the point that one can define them as ”eclectic”. However, I argue that this eclecticism is actually an added value to the architectural work of Pagano, steaming from the use of a method which, having as a basis the postulate of a rational architecture as essence and logic of building, finds specific variations depending on the multiple variables to be addressed by the project. This is the methodological heritage that Pagano learns from the tradition, especially that of the rural residential architecture, defined by Pagano as a “dictionary of the building logic of man”, as an “a-stylistic background”. For Pagano this traditional architecture is a clear expression of the relationships between a theme and its development, an architectural “fact” that is resolved with purely technical and utilitarian aims and with a spontaneous development far from any aprioristic theoretical principle. Architecture, therefore, cannot be an invention for Pagano and the personal contribution of each architect has to consider his/her close relationship with the specific historical context, place and new building methods. These are basic principles in the methodological approach that drives a great deal of his research and that also permits his thought to be modern. I argue that both ongoing and new collaborations with younger protagonists of the culture and architecture of the period are significant for the development of his methodology. These encounters represent the will to spread his own understanding of the “new architecture” as well as a way of self-renewal by confronting the self with new themes and realities and by learning from his collaborators. Thesis’ outline The thesis is divided in two principal parts, each articulated in four chapters attempting to offer a new reading of the theory and work of Pagano by emphasising the central themes of the research. The first chapter is an introduction to the thesis and to the theme of the rational house, as understood and developed in its typological and technical aspects by Pagano and by other protagonists of the Italian rationalism of the 1930s. Here the attention is on two different aspects defining, according to Pagano, the house project: on the one hand, the typological renewal, aimed at defining a “standard form” as a clear and essential answer to certain needs and variables of the project leading to different formal expressions. On the other, it focuses on the building, understood as a technique to “produce” architecture, where new technologies and new materials are not merely tools but also essential elements of the architectural work. In this way the villa becomes different from the theme of the common house or from that of the minimalist house, by using rules in the choice of material and in the techniques that are every time different depending on the theme under exploration and on the contingency of place. It is also visible the rigorous rationalism that distinguishes the author's appropriation of certain themes of rural architecture. The pages of “Casabella” and the events of the contemporary Triennali form the preliminary material for the writing of this chapter given that they are primary sources to individuate projects and writings produced by Pagano and contemporary architects on this theme. These writings and projects, when compared, reconstruct the evolution of the idea of the rational house and, specifically, of the personal research of Pagano. The second part regards the reading of three of Pagano’s projects of houses as a built verification of his theories. This section constitutes the central part of the thesis since it is aimed at detecting a specific methodological approach showing a theoretical and ideological evolution expressed in the vast edited literature. The three projects that have been chosen explore the theme of the house, looking at various research themes that the author proposes and that find continuity in the affirmation of a specific rationalism, focussed on concepts such as essentiality, utility, functionality and building honesty. These concepts guide the thought and the activities of Pagano, also reflecting a social and cultural period. The projects span from the theme of the villa moderna, Villa Colli, which, inspired by the architecture of North Europe, anticipates a specific rationalism of Pagano based on rigour, simplicity and essentiality, to the theme of the common house, Casa a struttura d’acciaio, la casa del domani, which ponders on the definition of new living spaces and, moreover, on new concepts of standardisation, economical efficiency and new materials responding to the changing needs of the modern society. Finally, the third project returns to the theme of the, Villa Caraccio, revisiting it with new perspectives. These perspectives find in the solution of the open plant, in the openness to nature and landscape and in the revisiting of materials and local building systems that idea of the freed house, which express clearly a new theoretical thought. Methodology It needs to be noted that due to the lack of an official Archive of Pagano’s work, the analysis of his work has been difficult and this explains the necessity to read the articles and the drawings published in the pages of «Casabella» and «Domus». As for the projects of Villa Colli and Casa a struttura d’acciaio, parts of the original drawings have been consulted. These drawings are not published and are kept in private archives of the collaborators of Pagano. The consultation of these documents has permitted the analysis of the cited works, which have been subject to a more complete reading following the different proposed solutions, which have permitted to understand the project path. The projects are analysed thought the method of comparison and critical reading which, specifically, means graphical elaborations and analytical schemes, mostly reconstructed on the basis of original projects but, where possible, also on a photographic investigation. The focus is on the project theme which, beginning with a specific living (dwelling) typology, finds variations because of the historico-political context in which Pagano is embedded and which partially shapes his research and theoretical thought, then translated in the built work. The analysis of the work follows, beginning, where possible, from a reconstruction of the evolution of the project as elaborated on the basis of the original documents and ending on an analysis of the constructive principles and composition. This second phase employs a methodology proposed by Pagano in his article Piante di ville, which, as expected, focuses on the plant as essential tool to identify the “true practical and poetic qualities of the construction”(Pagano, «Costruzioni-Casabella», 1940, p. 2). The reading of the project is integrated with the constructive analyses related to the technical aspects of the house which, in the case of Casa a struttura d’acciaio, play an important role in the project, while in Villa Colli and in Villa Caraccio are principally linked to the choice of materials for the construction of the different architectural elements. These are nonetheless key factors in the composition of the work. Future work could extend this reading to other house projects to deepen the research that could be completed with the consultation of Archival materials, which are missing at present. Finally, in the appendix I present a critical selection of the Pagano’s writings, which recall the themes discussed and embodied by the three projects. The texts have been selected among the articles published in Casabella and in other journals, completing the reading of the project work which cannot be detached from his theoretical thought. Moving from theory to project, we follow a path that brings us to define and deepen the central theme of the thesis: rational building as the principal feature of the architectural research of Pagano, which is paraphrased in multiple ways in his designed and built works.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Cagneschi, Claudia
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Ingegneria civile ed architettura
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Giuseppe Pagano, costruzione razionale, architettura razionalista, Villa Colli, Casa a struttura d'acciaio, Villa Caraccio
Data di discussione
25 Maggio 2009

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