|Address||Viale Libia 6-14|
|Building Type||Perimeter block, infill|
|Number of Dwellings||24|
|Dwelling Types||2,3BR flats|
|No. Floors||10, 15, & 18|
|stone, stucco, wood windows and shutters|
|Construction Type||RC frame|
|Ancillary Services||commercial shops|
Ugo Luccichenti was trained as an engineer but practiced as an architect. Most of his commissions were done for the Società Generale Immobiliare (IN), Italy’s largest real estate and construction and development company. Much of the open land in outlying districts around the old city was owned by the IN and was developed as speculative housing for the middle class under various extensions to the 1931 Piano regolatore (General Development Plan) and new housing was planned for the outlying districts of Talenti, Vigna Clara, Equuilino, Monte Mario, Olgiata, Casal Palocco, Cristoforo Columbo, Parioli, and other areas. By the late 1930’s, construction was underway in these areas and continued at a rapid pace after WWII in the 1950’s-1960’s as the population of Rome grew to over 2 million by the 1960’s
The 1931 Plano regolatore defined different several housing types to be used in the new areas: (1) the palazzina, a 5-6 –story, free-standing urban villa type with 2-3 apartments per floor with a penthouse dwelling, (2) the intensivo, an infill building of 10-11 floors, and (3) the villino that was a lower density, 3-story garden type. Luccicchenti was adept at all of these types, as well as other transformations and permutations of “palazzo” versions, and even examples of worker’s housing (casa popolare) implying a denser, larger grouping of more economical buildings (see Palazzina Rea for a more thorough description of the palazzina).
Between 1935 and 1955, Lucccichenti designed about twenty different palazzina projects in the hills north of the city. While most of these were examples of the 6-story blocks, perhaps the most interesting subset are three intensivio projects: Pinturicchio (1948) in the Flamino district, Belsito (1952-53) in the Balduina district, and Libia (1953-54) in the Tresti district. Pinturicchio and Libia are infill buildings, part of larger perimeter blocks while Belsito is a whole block of five attached buildings that face an open square that is used as a public market. Unlike most palazzini, these examples have commercial spaces along the street. As the name implies, the intensivo type is denser and the apartments smaller, so that it more closely models the casa popolare apartments typically used in normal workers’ housing in Italy.
The 10-story building is part of a long narrow block. The shared space on the interior of the block typical to most party-wall situations is here an enclosed courtyard enclosed on three sides by the U-shaped building. The “U”-plan essentially increases the surface on the interior of the block so that three dwellings per floor are possible. The typical floor plan is organized with small apartment in the middle and two long narrow dwellings, one at each side. Access is provided by a single stair and elevator located in one corner of the building facing the street. Two of the apartments have access directly from the stair. An open gallery provides access along the courtyard to the large apartment on the opposite side of the building. There is some loss of privacy with this arrangement, but the bedrooms have windows facing the interior court. The peculiar position of the stair in the plan results in an unusual street elevation where the steps of the stair are expressed as a stepping/diagonal zone of fixed glass connecting the two parts of the building: two separate elements, occurring at different elevations that are connected with a stair. But the sloping stair creates the impression of a change in elevation, so that the surfaces of the facade are not parallel. This allusion of a faceted surface is strengthened because the 4-bay zone of windows above the shops is not parallel to the street surface of the shops so that this zone of windows actually tilts inward toward the intersection with the corner of the stair window. This condition is the result the location of 4 shops that form a zone of two-story high spaces along the sidewalk that step to a single height that interpenetrates the vertical zone of the stair and windows. This horizontal zone is clad in a dark stone and helps form the reading of a plinth for the building above. The shops are double height with small mezzanines that are reached by spiral stairs. The 2-bay zone of windows next to the stair begins at the 2nd floor. The ground floor is a one-story shop and the recessed entrance to the building. There is a portiere's flat at the mezzanine level on the courtyard and a typical 2 bedroom flat at the same level above the building entrance.
In contrast to Luccicchenti’s typical palazzini, with gardens, lots of balconies, the use of high quality materials and details with penthouse terrace apartments and resulting in high quality residences for the roman bourgeois, the viale Libia flats offer basic accommodation for the city’s working class. The very planer smooth plaster upper walls and repetitive punched windows, metal shutter frames and balustrades and the sliding wooden shutters recall 1920’s rationalist precedents and add to the almost mannerist surface effects of the street facade. (Apparently, the shutters were painted red with the building was opened.) Luiccicchenti’s intensivo projects and his eclectic sensibilities with various vernacular traditions show him to be an architect who understood the needs for the design of economical casa popolare as well as those of designing for the middle-class real estate marketplace.
De Gutry, Irene, Guida de Roma Moderna dal 1870-ad oggi, Rome, De Luca Editore, 1978, p. 93.
Rossi, Piero Ostelio, Roma Guida all architettura moderna 1909-1984, Editori Laterza, Rome, 1984p. 182