13 giugno 2014

the house of arms at Foro Italico


I took advantage of the day FAI (thank you!) of spring to visit the house of Arms by Luigi Moretti at the Foro Italico, like so many others waiting for the last entry.
It is not the first time that I talk about
it, I had already done in Architectureof the twentieth century, but it can not be otherwise, given the importance and beauty of this iconic building of Italian rationalist architecture, which has remained inaccessible for too long time after have been looted, upset and abandoned.

Images from Luigi Moretti's archive since 2000 part of the State Archives

It 's always been for me a point of reference, since the times of the university so much so that for one design exam I wanted to "copy" it at all costs, especially resuming facade designed by the horizontality of the elements in stone and the professor (the best I met!), who was at least thirty years older than me, looked at me with a smile as if to say that I was really out of fashion to copy Moretti when there were around Eisenmann, Gehry, Hadid and Holl, Nouvel  etc. ... Who knows what he’d say today that almost every year we can buy a new book on Moretti (maybe it’s an exaggeration) and there is a crowd waiting to see his house of Arms.
Furthermore  I have been able, in the middle of post-modern epoch, when a museum must be designed necessarily in Stirling style, to remain in doubt until the last if "copying" Mies in Berlin or Le Corbusier in Tokyo and at the end I chose the first for obvious superiority (!)


The house of arms today has been partially brought back at the origin, as meaning that it has been released to the view by removing the safety equipments added on the north side for the access to the room. The restoration has not yet been completed and it is impossible not to notice the obvious distortion created by walling at the ground floor of the very elegant connection element between the two main volumes.


The building is so perfect in his lines to seem at first sight and from far a model or, to put it more contemporary, a displaying on the computer, but when you approach it you can capture very well its materiality, is fully clad in stone, and the horizontal dimension of the facade, which from a distance looks composed of thin bands of stone, assumes the right proportions.

Another thing that makes the building even more beautiful and more abstract is the "natural" frame where it is placed against the backdrop of the verdant slopes of Monte Mario, so that staying in the great hall of the fencing and looking through openings to the north with the right perspective (to avoid the new "bowl" of the court), it seems to be in the middle of a park


[...] Moretti appears on the scene of the Foro Italico as a designer in 1933 with some smaller projects, but it is quite probable that had in pectore - even as Plinio Marconi says - this major project since that date. The same Enrico Del Debbio, until then responsible for the work of the Foro, is surprised and forced to change his 'guest quarters'  by the dislocation imposed at the scene by the building of Moretti; more than just one building, the house of arms is in fact a kind of plot built, and is like a strategic cornerstone. The great armory and the most complex multifunctional building that joins with the head and a kind of suspended arm raised, are totally separate buildings, connected only stylistically; but the great emphasis placed by Moretti network built platforms and pathways at multiple levels suggests to seize the two terraces of connection is not in their frail physicality, intentionally accentuated by aerodynamic shapes. The terraces materialize shares of Use main identical, the two functional parts: the high platforms, from which you view the world. (Carlo Severati)

In confirmation of how strong has been the impact of Moretti's building, you just need to see the pictures of the Guest Houses south of Del Debbio as it was originally, as well documented in the publication Enrico Del Debbio Architect - The measure of modernity, from which I extracted the images, the text in italics below and the information about the building.

In 1932 the building was built just to the river, with the language already used in the Academy of Physical Education: a long architectural body, bass and articulate, covered in plaster red-brown with a thin base and white marble architectural elements.



Five years later he built the nearby House of weapons of Luigi Moretti, a composition of two volumes of pure L-clad entirely in white marble.
To return to all the same homogeneity Debbio radical changes to its building design, proposing an adjustment in both volumes (with the raising of a plan, the demolition of part of the head, the simplification of facades) and external image with a complete coating of white marble.


 
Actually looking at the original photos it seems to me that the Lodge was much more beautiful and proportionate in the original lower-washed red and brown with white marble elements as the building of the Academy of Physical Education.
The uniform coating marble it has a little trivialized, especially in comparison with the more elegant and proportionate "near" and the elevation of a plan has denied that the horizontal momentum that gave strength to its length.
The building is still another good example of rationalist architecture, even in its revised version, and as the nearby house of arms, without a proper function.