Saturday, October 30, 2010

'This infinite ship': Moretti's post-rationalist building on Corso Italia


I hated that building.

I really hated it.

Walking the narrow dark street below it, as I often was forced to do by its proximity, it was like a sheer mountainous wall of crude cement teetering threateningly over my head. With tiny slits for windows, it was a jail of the spirit. The dreary gray of the crude cement dropped like a miasmic fog onto even the sunniest and cheeriest of days.

Funny what a little bit of paint can do....More......

This building by Luigi Moretti dates to 1952-1956, that is, to roughly the same period as Milan's more famous "Torre Velasca" (designed in that period, but finally completed in 1958), though it is completely different in feel.

Structurally, the Torre Velasca may have had something new to say (we'll see whether it did, or not, in a later message), but the style is precociously "post-modern": streamlined, yes, Milan's first post-war "skyscraper," yes, but still looking overall like a medieval, or Renaissance, tower.

Moretti's post-rationalist building on Corso Italia, nn. 13-15-17, is completely different aesthetically.

The idea of the structure was shaved and shaved and shaved until just a smooth geometric profile juts out like a ship's prow from the adjoining perpendicular structure. Basic structural elements (the pinching of the "prow," the slitted windows, the nestling of the structure like the keel of a boat on a dock) served to decorate, the cement left to shout its practical, inexpensive nature during that building boom in the immediate period after WWII, when lots of new structures were needed for housing and offices (Milan was half in ruins), but budgets were tight.

It was still ugly and depressing, though.

That is, until a few years ago.

A coat of white paint with a touch of red on the window details (it's there, I promise), and, ZAP, the building lifts, now, like a boat rising on the swell of a wave.

Instead of being hammered down, my spirit rises up to it, and I kinda like it. (May have just gotten used to it, too, I'm like that.)

I took this photo on April 8, 2007, at around 5:15 P.M., shortly after the paint job.

Here's a related poetic phrase, which is very meaningful for me, and which I've translated into English for you:

I love life, this infinite ship, this reawakened dream, this book never printed, often disordered as a handful of folded sheets of paper, as single sheets of paper, as snippets of phrases now here, now there in this room in which you have just walked, you go back and walk through it, again, and find it another and different and you translate into time your steps and into memories the corners. Somewhere there is, but I don't know where, no one knows where, a hidden door and the walls that seemed four, because thus swore the geometry of the mind, are many, too many more.
(Roberto Vecchioni, "Quell'inutile voglia di imparare," SETTE, December 17, 2009, n. 4, p. 12)

3 comments:

etta said...

You are right. Strange enough, I never noticed the building, but from your photo it gives me the impression of an incumbent danger. Rather disturbing.

Honolulu said...

probably you didn't see behind this construction. never stop at the first impression. because it allows you to look at the sky, usually not happens. it is different from any other buildings in milan and i think in many other cities. maybe you're only a bit superficial.this building was made by luigi moretti in 1950, he was a great italian architect.

Star said...

Dear Honolulu,

First, there's no need to be offensive. You should NOT have said that I am "superficial". Please READ the instructions under the "Leave your comment" title of this blog's posting box. Please READ any sources you find on "netiquette," then follow those precepts for civil comportment in the internet, wherever you visit. Second, if you actually READ what I wrote, you will find that I know full well that it was by Moretti (and even "great" architects can make mistakes). Third, if you READ what I wrote, you will see that the building was horrible in my opinion, but that it has been improved by a coat of paint...it looks less like a prison. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion; this is my blog, these are my opinions. I'm happy to discuss them in a civil manner. Moderate your language, please, or do not comment on this blog, again, as I will not publish the comment.

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