Courtyard
Il Girasole
Moretti, Luigi | Rome, Italy | 1949-50
Image of Il Girasol...
South facade

ProjectIl Girasole
ArchitectMoretti, Luigi
CityRome
CountryItaly
AddressViale Brunno Buozzi, 64
Building TypeCourtyard
Number of Dwellings10
Date Built1949-50
Dwelling Types3 bra. flats
No. Floors6
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
Materials
stucco, stone, wood windows, wooden roll-down and sliding shutters (replaced with metal)
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicesportiere quarters at entry

Moretti's reputation was established by 1936 when, at the age of 29, he designed the fencing hall at Mussolini's heroic new sports center for Rome, the Foro Italico, an exercise in rationalist design during the Fascist period. Later work by this important Roman architect includes work with the team that designed the residential quarters for the 1960 Rome Olympics, the infamous Watergate apartments in Washington D.C. of 1961, The Montreal towers of 1962, and several commercial and apartment buildings in Rome and Milan. During the 1950's, Moretti also wrote a series of articles about structure, space and form for the magazine Spazio. Later articles dealt with research into the structure and mathematics of architecture. These articles reveal an architect preoccupied with "organic" building forms and ideas. It is likely this interest that results in the reoccurring theme of curving or irregular forms juxtaposed upon planer, regular forms that dominates Moretti's work. This theme is most obvious in the designs for three apartment buildings built between 1949 and 1962 in Rome: Astrea, Il Girasole, and Casa San Maurizio. The best of the three and probably Moretti's tour de force, is Il Girasole, the sunflower. The name is probably derived from the plan organization and the petal-like extensions which open--sunflower-like--to one side of the building. Two large apartments per floor, spread outward from an interior courtyard and circulation zone. The street facade is singularly remarkable as an abstract surface turned, like a sunflower, to face the south sun.

This exaggerated surface which is simultaneously reflective and receptive, receives then excludes the sun with a variety of flush roll-down and sliding screens. The screens not only extend beyond the implied building envelope at the top and sides, but are also cantilevered from the rusticated base creating an astonishing condition of visual levitation. The facade contains other contradictory illusions. The vertical cleft which reveals the depth of the courtyard within, with right and left sides misaligned at the top, would seem to invite the absolution of planer surface but does just the opposite.The free-floating detachment from the building base, a fact further enhanced because the cantilever normally casts a shadow on the top of this recessed rough stone wall, seems to involve the deconstruction of traditional building forms. Instead, this feature actually enhances street surface and piano-nobile notions. The paper-thin detail of this surface with taut, flush windows and screens is further enhanced by the recessed base and vertical coulisse.

Built in a district of speculative apartment blocks, Il Girasole had to respond to the same zoning limitations and the phenomenal south facade belies a rather ordinary building in most other respects, a brilliant burst of creative energy perhaps wasted in an unsympathetic milieu. There are two large linear apartments per floor arranged around a narrow interior light well that contains two access stair/elevator cores that are connected by an open gallery.

Bonelli, Renato, Moretti, Edizioni d'Italia, Rome, 1975, pp. 10-11.

Spazio, vols 3 (1950), 4 (1950), 5 (1951), 6 (1952), 7 (1953)

Architettura, 1932 (2,3,5,7,&8), 1933 (8), 1934 (8), 1937 (6,8,12), 1939 (12, fasc. spec. ed.E.42), 1040 (11,12), 1941 (7,9,10)

Casabella, 1937 (116), 1938 (121), 1943 (182)

Domus, 1932 (off), 1964 (419), 1965 (426-428)

Fagiolo, M. & P. Marconi, Lineastructtura, 1966, 1,

Sherwood, Roger, "Two Sunflowers", Journal of Architectural Education Spring, 1985, pp. 21-25.,

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