01 October 2018

the villa as building type

I am very fond of the villa as a building type. By this, I generally mean something that is composed rather like the Villa Rotonda of Palladio just outside Vicenza: symmetrical perhaps, fairly compact though extensions are fine but it needs to have a visual core, generally not eccentric, usually a sense of singularity even if it's not a one-family house. James Ackerman, Colin Rowe, Pierre de la Ruffiniere du Prey, and others have written about the villa as building type.

Sometimes, the villa type gets bigger and becomes a tower like these apartment towers by Mario Botta in Sesto San Giovanni outside Milan, part of the Campari complex of offices and residences:

Along the Via Arnaldo Vassallo in the Villaggio dei Giornalisti (Village of the Writers) in Milan, there are Liberty (art nouveau) villas down one side of the street

and rationalist villas from the 1930s on the other side of the street.
I love it when this sort of architectural reflection or resonance happens.

The house at the entrance to the Villaggio dei Giornalisti from Via Ragusa is a lovely Liberty house, not so much a villa of the Rotonda sort. More like A.J. Downing perhaps. I'm not claiming influence here.

When we were in Turin in the spring, I found a good guide to Liberty at the bookshop in the Palazzo Madama. I didn't have a specific guide to art nouveau most of the time I was in Milan, either in April/May or September. I did see one but not until the last day at the Rizzoli bookstore in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I also was looking at Diane Ghirardo's history of modern architecture in Italy and was amused to see the photo of the Galleria there while I was in the Galleria.