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Gustavo Giovanoni

-contributia la notiunea de patrimoniu urban a unei

personalitati europene-

Materia: Teoria monumentului de arhitectura
Facultatea: Arhitectura
Grupa: 63 B
Student: Suru George

Cuprinde tesuturile, prestigioase sau nu, ale oraselor si
ansamblurilor traditionale preindustriale si ale secolului al XIX-lea si
tinde sa nglobeze la modul general orice tesut urban puternic
structurat. Notiunea de patrimoniu urban a fost propusa pentru prima
oara de G. Giovannoni (Vechia citta ed edilizia nuova, 1931). n
Franta, recunoasterea sa tardiva a venit odata cu Legea Malraux
privitoare la sectoarele protejate, care a reprezentat n primul rnd
o reactie contra renovarilor masive ale centrelor urbane ntreprinse
ncepnd cu anii 1950 n conformitate cu doctrinele CIAM. Schematic
vorbind, recunoasterea patrimoniului urban a fost preparata si realizata
n trei etape care s-au derulat succesiv n trei tari diferite (Marea
Britanie, Austria si Italia) si care pot fi legate de trei nume simbolice:
Ruskin (ncepnd din 1840), Sitte (1889) si Giovannoni (ncepnd din
Giovannoni a fost si primul care a pus accentul pe valoarea
sociala a patrimoniului urban vechi. De atunci, ideile lui au fost
preluate si aplicate n Italia, mai ales de orasul Bologna. Ele au primit
o recunoastere internationala n Recomandarile (numite) de la Nairobi
privind salvarea ansamblurilor istorice sau traditionale si rolul lor n
viata contemporana, adoptata de Conferinta generala a UNESCO
(1976). La ora actuala, n Franta, asociatiile de cartier care militeaza
pentru apararea anumitor tesuturi din secolele al XIX-lea si al XX-lea,
tesuturi amenintate de distrugere prin diferite interventii urbanistice,
au dus la descoperirea valorii sociale si conviviale a acestui
patrimoniu urban infra-ordinar (cum a fost numit de G.Perec).

4. The Invention of the Urban Heritage
It took so long for the urban heritage to be considered a conservation
objet nondeductible from the historical monuments for three reasons:
1.The city definition and the framework for its study were not so
clear until the twentieth century.
2. The absence of cartographic documents before the nineteenth
3. The difficulty to find archives related to the production and
transformations of the urban space in the time. In
the same context, the history of architecture forgot about the city and
its historical expressions [2] [3].
The conversion of the city as an object of historical knowledge
was caused by the transformation of the urban space during the French
Revolution. The notion of Urban Heritage emerged into the adverse
context of the urbanization processes. The historical city was
conceived as a strange object, fragile and valuable for the
art and the history, and at the same time as object for museum
exhibition, so the experts considered it had to be taken out of the life
circuit. As a consequence it brought a big contradiction: while the
historical city was transformed in historical, the city lost its historicity
Gustavo Giovannoni was the first one who talked about urban
heritage. He was the first who gave the antique urban complexes value
of use and value of museum, integrating them into a general
conception of territorial planning. This implied a new model of
conservation of the historical urban complexes for the history, for the
art and for the present [2]. Under this approach the historical city itself
became a monument, but at the same time a living fabric. Giovanonni
funded the doctrine of the restoration and conservation of the urban
heritage, resumed in three principles: the urban heritage has to be
integrated to the urban, local, regional plan. 2.
The historical monument concept is not only related to a single
and isolated building. It corresponded to urban dialectic and cannot be
disconnected from that; for the first time it was recognized the
spirit (historical) of the places, materialized in the special
configurations. 3. The urban heritage requires procedures for its
preservation and restoration as the monuments does.


One of the most influential figures in Roman architecture and
urbanism between the two world wars was Gustavo Giovannoni
(1873-1947). In addition to being a talented architect, urban designer,
restorer, author and historian, he was also the founder of the
architecture school at the University of Rome.

Peroni Brewery Complex, Rome, 1908-12, by Gustavo Giovannoni.
This industrial complex was designed as urban architecture, rather
than merely as a factory, and includes advanced reinforced concrete
technology, as well as human scale and charming details. The fully
integrated artistic and technical mastery is typical of the designer.
Among Giovannonis architectural works are the Peroni Brewery
complex from 1908-12, an important work of early industrial
architecture. Occupying three city blocks, the complex is not just a
factory but a truly urban place, like a centuries-old village with a little
piazza and tower. The buildings recall the vernacular architecture of
northern Italy, while the reinforced concrete structures are
technologically sophisticated and very well constructed. Despite
recent rehabilitation efforts, one part of the complex was subjected to
a shameful exercise in facadism when Odile Decq and Benoit
Cornette converted it into the MACRO gallery of contemporary art.
His other principal built work is the Church of the Guardian Angel at
the Garden City of the Aniene, a planned suburban town on the
northeastern outskirts of Rome for which Giovannoni made the master
plan. Modeled after English garden cities, it reminds me of Forest
Hills Gardens in Queens, New York, from about the same time. The
heart of the new town is Piazza Sempione, enclosed by municipal and
mixed-use buildings (designed by Innocenzo Sabbatini) and
Giovannonis church. It is an exercise in full Baroque style, with the
architects characteristic combination of beautiful detailing and
sophisticated structural design. The interior features a complex dome
that, had it been realized according to Giovannonis design, would
have been a marvel of space, structure and light. Even in its imperfect
state, it is one of the best modern churches in Rome.

Church of the Guardian Angel (Parrocchia Santi Angeli Custodi),
Piazza Sempione, Citt Giardino Aniene, Rome, 1924-25. Conceived
in a Baroque spirit but without imitating any historical Baroque work,
the church is also a technically sophisticated structure. Unfortunately,
it was not completed entirely according to Giovannonis design,
especially in the dome, where the windows of the drum were filled in
and other changes were made to reduce cost. Giovannoni had master
planned the surrounding garden city new town in 1920.
His other ground-breaking urban design work was the master plan for
the Garbatella quarter on the south side of the city. Like many of the
state-sponsored housing projects of the era, it was begun before the
rise of the Fascist government and reflects a progressive approach to
social housing, in this case for the industrial workers who were to staff
the new port facility on the river nearby. In the end, the port was never
built, and the neighborhood became a dumping ground for those
displaced by the demolitions in the center; but the original plan and
buildings are a remarkable testament to a humanistic traditional
urbanism. Today, the neighborhood shows signs of the neglect it
suffered for decades after the war but still remains a lively and
charming district.
In his 1931 book, Old Cities and New Construction, Giovannoni sets
out his urban theories, which are largely based on those of the great
Viennese urbanist Camillo Sitte; like Sitte, Giovannoni believed that
the historic centers of the great European cities could be adapted to
modern life without destroying their architectural character, not by the
massive demolitions required by the model of Hausmanns Paris, but
by what he calleddiradamentoa thinning out or pruning of the urban
fabric, as one cares for a forest by clearing underbrush and trimming
the trees. Heres a sample of his description (all quotations are my
own translations from the Italian):

A street in the Garbatella quarter, with houses by Giovanni Battista
Trotta and others, based on the master plan by Giovannoni, 1920. This
new town neighborhood south of the center of Rome remains a
vibrant working-class district and an alternative to the Modernist
projects of the 1920s and following decades. This and other public
housing for workers in Rome completed before World War II
contradict the claim that traditional architects and urbanists were not
interested in housing for the poor and working class.
All this is done with patience and love. . .by means of small changes
derived from the local conditions and not with grand means, freeing
without adding, improving without transforming radically. In other
words, the method is carried out with demolition in small increments,
leaving areas free and reconstructing little or nothing, reducing almost
to the minimum the introduction of new elements almost always
inharmonious with the old and carried out with sensitivity to the
resulting perspective views framing the major monuments or
characteristic groups of small houses. All this work should be done by
means of restorations and adaptations and not radical ones! for
modern needs and obtained through the pruning and opening of the
interiors of the blocks with the same sense of measure applied to the
urban context of the street.
When it came to adding new buildings in the historic settings,
Giovannoni asked that architects strive for visual consonance between
new and old, aiming at wholeness and continuity in the built
And in the new construction the maximum respect for the context
must be exercised, according with the criterion of the maximum
simplicity of architectural lines. . . .If one doesnt know how to create
a new contextual art, one may have recourse to the simple and familiar
forms of the Renaissance; the traditional crafts carried out not in
architectural camouflage, but in elements like balconies, loggias,
railings and balustrades, planting boxes, etc.

Corso del Rinascimento, Rome. In 1931 Giovannoni made a master
plan for the Corso del Rinascimento, a new street connecting Corso
Vittorio Emanuele II, the citys main east-west artery, with the new
district of Prati north of the Tiber. The street illustrates Giovannonis
theory of diradamento (thinning out), thereby avoiding the
wholesale demolitions that reshaped Paris in the previous century.
New buildings constructed between 1936 and 1938 to the designs of
Arnaldo Foschini were intended to harmonize with the remaining
historic structures.
Some of Giovannonis ideas were implemented by other architects,
many of whom were his students. The Corso del Rinascimento, a
north-south connector just east of Piazza Navona, sacrificed the
straight-line layout of a Parisian boulevard in order to preserve the
Palazzo della Sapienza, the Palazzo Madama and Piazza Navona
itself, and the new buildings designed by Arnaldo Foschini in the
1930s largely fulfill Giovannonis vision of a modern street with a
harmonious mix of new and old structures.
Giovannoni was a consistent critic of the Mussolini regimes
clearance operations, in which thousands of medieval and Renaissance
buildings were destroyed. He was virtually alone in denouncing the
demolition of the Borgo Vaticano neighborhood to construct the Via
della Conciliazione, the lifeless boulevard that now links St. Peters
Square with the Tiber and Castel SantAngelo. His public opposition
aroused the anger of the Duce, a risky thing to do under Fascist rule.
In 1945, as the Second World War was ending, Giovannoni wrote
with a poignant sense that his brave defense of the historic city was
not embraced by the rising generation of Modernist architects and
designers, who sought to supplant the building traditions of Italy with
the Modern Movement ideas imported from abroad.
The persistence of the classical feeling. . .has typically maintained a
unity with the context; that is, with the collective architecture. . . .To
these conditions the modern tendencies make a strident and unhealthy
antithesis. . . .With regard to contemporary design, we are still far
from finding something that harmonizes with the historic context; the
continuing fluctuations of the architecture I myself have seen arrive
and fade away four different styles, each in contrast with the others
show how far we are from the maturity necessary to have stable forms
that represent the architecture of our time and yet could be taken
seriously for at least two centuries in the citys life or, with necessary
adaptations, could be harmonious with the past and the future. . .
.When here and there some exceptional architect has resolved this
problem well, or passably well, taking inspiration from the pre-
existing forms yet without copying them, we have had some very
modern and functional buildings, more practical than those
constructed according to passing fashion. . . .But we cannot base an art
on exceptional persons, and, on the other hand, experience has
demonstrated that codes and prohibitions have little or no effect in
guiding taste. Until this longed-for maturation of local architecture
and the feeling for the context come together, . .it is necessary to
remain strictly and intransigently a conservationist in the defense of
our beautiful cities.