Slab, corridorSlab, gallery-accessSlab, point-accessTower
Barucci, Pietro,; Lucio Passarelli, Marcello Vitorini, Piero Gandolfi, Tuillo Leonori, Patrizia Pizzinato, Gaspare Squadrilli | Rome, Italy | 1978-84
Image of Torrevecch...
Towers seen across the Lazio landscape west of Rome.

ArchitectBarucci, Pietro,; Lucio Passarelli, Marcello Vitorini, Piero Gandolfi, Tuillo Leonori, Patrizia Pizzinato, Gaspare Squadrilli
Addressvia de Torrevecchia/via Dolcedo (nw of Rome)
Building TypeSlab, gallery access
Slab, point-access
Number of Dwellings1074
Date Built1978-84
Dwelling Types1,2 & 4 BR flats
No. Floors3-14
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
concrete, metal windows and blinds
Construction TypeR-C frame/ precast concrete panels
Ancillary Servicesshops, offices, commnity center

The legislation that was passed in 1962 in Rome, legge 167 (Law 167) resulted in a plan for new housing developments in the outskirts of Rome. This first plan for l'Edilizia Economica e Populare (PEEP) provided the mechanism to construct the housing planned in the 1962 Piano regolatore, the Master Plan for the city. The PEEP plan of 1964 called for 70 new residential zones mostly in the north, south, and eastern parts of the suburbs, new communities for over 700,000 inhabitants. Some results of the 1964 PEEP plan include well known communities such as Decima (1960-66), 45,000; Spinaceto (1964-65), 25,000 pop; Laurentino (1973-84), 32,000 pop; and Corviale (1972-82, 8,000. As the metropolitan population of Rome continued to grow, a second PEEP plan was adopted in 1984, covering a group of new peripheral communities. The first PEEP plan was modified and changed during the course of its administration and the community shown here, Torrevecchia, was completed under the modified regulations in effect as the 1984 plan was adopted. Constructed at the edge of the existing borgata of Primavalle, in the rolling hills about 2 km west of the Vatican City, Torrevecchia, and a later community Quartaccio (1982-88), built on an adjacent ridge, was one of the first moves to expand into the Lazio country side on the western edge of Rome. Both projects were designed for the Istituto Autonomo Case popolari (IACP) by some of the same architects.

The 24-hectare site is off the main road along the western edge of Primavalle, via de Torrevecchia, and sets back and up from the street, askew of the existing buildings along the street. A regional shopping center and a school have been built in the space between the new development and via di Torrevecchia. There are 1074 dwellings housing about 3600 people. The project also includes some shops, offices, a community center, and some play and recreational areas. Aside from the connection to via di Torrevecchia, open fields surround the site. The site is organized around four 14-story, stepped towers that define a central plaza area. Lower, point-access slabs of varying heights, extend out from the base of the towers forming long landscaped spaces along the crown of the hill. A double row of a different type of slab connects from the plaza area to via de Torrevecchia. These two buildings define the entrance to the site and have some shops at the ground floor. The long stepping slabs connect to the base of the towers and vary in height from 3 to 5 floors, are articulated as repeating segments that step in both plan and section, and contain flats that have balconies overlooking the central landscaped areas. Parking lots line the opposite side of each slab. The vertical stairs mark the entrance lobbies. Otherwise, these facades are very closed and dominated by the narrow horizontal bands windows amd blinds. The two buildings that connect to via de Torrevecchia define a narrow pedestrian walk. One of these, 3-4 stories in height, has separate stairs that give access to the two upper flats. On the opposite side of the walk the building is 5 stories in height with a continuous gallery at the 3rd floor. The lower two floors contain either apartments or shops while the gallery provides access to entrances, tenant storage areas along the gallery, and stairs leading to the upper two flats. Torrevecchia contains a mix of 1, 2 and 4 bedroom flats. The towers are organized around a central stair and lobby and 6 apartments per floor while the slabs are organized with 4 flats per stair, per floor.

Like much Italian housing construction of the 1970's and 80's, a combination system of poured-in place and prefabricated concrete panels is the primary construction. Balconies are detailed as a recessed space with room for an awning. Continuous narrow strip windows, enlarge to full-height doors at the balcony and are red with aluminum roll down blinds. This clear typology of components has a modular quality. The towers step in height forming rooftop laundry areas. The towers are detailed to express the structure at the bottom two floors. The ground floor of the stepping slabs and towers is unoccupied except for entrance lobbies. The paired slabs however, have some ground floor dwellings where there is an obvious security problem.

The site plan makes a convincing diagram, however, there seems to be little organizational connection with the existing community. Entrance past the paired slabs is a passage through a parking area and, once reached, the plaza lacks activity, definition, and the facilities needed to make it truly a central community space. The idea of the extended stepped slabs with parking to one side and a landscaped open space to the other, also makes a good diagram but this space is too big, poorly defined and, as a result, is underused. These spaces are unkempt and are not well equipped or maintained. The prefab panel system which is typical of a lot of similar Italian housing of this period results in a rather literal design system, one that occupants are quick to adapt and change by glazing balconies and adding security screens of all kinds. There is evidence of serious water problems with the panels where joints have been plastered and panels patched. The absence of a viable shopping environment results in the reality of closed shop fronts, graffiti, a generally trashed, unkempt ambience, and loss of viable pedestrian activity. It may be that the adaptations that were made to the original legge 167 housing standards, changes made to reach a more realistic correspondence between building cost and affordable financing have resulted in a loss of the amenities that no community can be without. A reoccurring pattern in many of these developments is the building of incomplete communities where public facilities are late in coming or are never funded at all for sites, that at least when they are first built, are physically and spiritually detached from an existing infrastructure of shopping, schools, and transportation.

Rossi, Piero Ostilio, Roma, Guida all'architettura moderna 1909-2000, Editori Laterza, Roma, 2000, pp. 333-4.

Casabella, No. 438, july-aug, 1978.

Costruire per abitare, no. 5, dec. 1982-Jan.1983.

Lucio Passarelli, (author, date & publisher uknown), p. 96-102.

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