Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005) has been one of the most influential figures of the Italian architectural scene of the second half of the twentieth century. A protagonist of the architectural debate since the mid-1940s, De Carlo visited Urbino for the first time in 1951, invited by the dean of the university, the writer Carlo Bo, who, in the following year, commissioned him the renovation of the ancient seat of the atheneum in the historic center of the city. Such a commission marks the starting point of the long relationship that ties the life and work of the architect to the city of the Marches: the collaboration first with the university and then with the municipality is kept alive up to last years before De Carlo’s death.
In view of an economic boost of the city, the municipality and the university work together at a political project that places culture at this center, that means the strengthening of the university facilities. De Carlo gives shape to this purpose with a series of exceptional built works: The Law Faculty (1966-68), the La Pineta district (1967-69), the School of Education (1968-76), the Art Institute (1972) and Faculty of Economics (1989-2000).
Apart from the conservation interventions on the historic buildings of Urbino that De Carlo adapts to achieve new didactic spaces, outside of the ancient town, he builds new residential complexes in which we read a consistent dialogue with the past: the studies on the historic fabric that De Carlo conducts for the city master plan between 1954 and 1964, are reflected in the settlements principles of his new projects that bring back the complex dynamics of the medieval town with contemporary forms and materials.
Leaving history aside, in De Carlo Urbino projects we perceive a series of inputs that he gathers from the european architectural scene of those years and that emerge, in particular, in his use of materials: his architectural volumes are characterised by the employ of concrete, iron and glass, combined with the typical bricks of Urbino’s building tradition.
Characteristic of De Carlo’s interpretation of the dialogue with existing places is a comparison between the ENEL summer camp built in Riccione in 1961 and his later student housing built since the beginning of the 1960s.
Text by Lorenzo Mingardi
Enel, children’s holiday camp, Riccione (RN), 1961-62
De Carlo composes the design through the repeated use of a set of basic elements. What sets the holiday camp apart from previous experiments is the way De Carlo imbues it with a specific formal hierarchy in relation to the hierarchy of the activities it houses. Thus the social core of the building, containing communal dining facilities, is also the physical centre of the composition. Either side of it, two symmetrical wings, hierarchically subordinate, contain the sleeping quarters. These reach out towards the beach and embrace a small sand filled court for outdoor games. The wings are each composed of five identical modules, slightly offset in plan. Each module comprises three floors and two mezzanine levels: common rooms and a portico at ground level, the staff bedrooms on the mezzanines and the childrens dormitories on the two upper floors.
Archivio Progetti-IUAV, De Carlo-pro/016/24
Collegio del Colle, Urbino (PU), 1962-1965
Collegio del Colle is located in the hills of Urbino. It is the first one of four university colleges realized by De Carlo between 1973 and 1983. The sloping terraces follow the land shapes. De Carlo tries the interpenetration between the shapes of architectural volume and the morphology of Urbino. This section represents a cell, which is composed by two bedrooms in two different floors.
This group of building is mainly made of exposed bricks; the main structure and the cantilevered elements are made of reinforced concrete. Even if his architecture is a natural inclination of the hills, the materials he used underline their strong presence in the landscape.
Archivio Progetti-IUAV, De Carlo-pro/021/092
Collegio La Vela, Urbino (PU), 1974-79
The dormitory “La Vela” is the southernmost building of the dorms complex. Structurally speaking, it is the most compact building of the group. In fact, it shows eight terraced strips of
houses, each ones provided with a hanging garden. Each room has been furnished with a kitchenette that leads to the roof garden on the unit below. The halls are meant as shared spaces,
also thanks to living and sitting areas illuminated by sunlight that comes from several large skylights. The shared area – a sort of open-space with sequential study areas and living rooms arranged on different levels – hosts other services: the entrance, a bar, a restaurant, some musical studios and the wide theatre hall which gives the name to the entire dorm, starting from its unique
Archivio Progetti-IUAV, De Carlo-pro/060/1/09
Collegio del Tridente, Urbino (PU), 1973-82
The “Collegio Tridente” consists of a central cluster with three branches, which follow the profile of the terrain, along which are arranged the housing units. These units are composed of eight single rooms each, for a total of 352 beds, arranged over two floors. These bedrooms share some semi-public spaces: a living room, a kitchen and a terrace, the latter which also constitutes the coverage of the consecutive module, located at a lower altitude. The central path that connects all the units is enlightened from above. The restrooms are shared between two different units located at the same level. The area below the restrooms is equipped as common living room, accessible from the whole residence; in this area, in addition to the horizontal and vertical connections, a depository is provided for the students.
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