Unità Residenziale Ovest Olivetti,
Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola,
with Luciano Re,
Ivrea, Italy, 1968-1971
Commissioned by Olivetti to host small apartments for graduates and new employees, the building is located in a piece of land chosen by Gabetti and Isola, enhancing the presence of a hill through an inner garden towards which all the apartments are facing. An artificial relief, dotted with skylights, rises above the underground car park behind the houses towards a roof terrace: a real facade towards the sky of this land-architecture made of concrete, glass and aluminum. The plan, which is set according to a circumference of nearly 70 meters radius, exploits the differences in ground level allowing to realize a building whose flat roof is an extension of the surrounding land.
The apartments, consisting of minimum units, are simplex and duplex. The simplex are 82 and are intended for one or two people. Their area of about 50 square meters, is organized on a single large room whose back wall window looks out towards the lawn and the forest, through the long curtain-wall with aluminum frames. The duplex are 12 and are intended for small families: in the lower floor is located the bedroom, while upstairs are located the daily activities and the kitchen.
Even the interiors of the apartment, consisting of a system of modular furniture, lamps and rugs, is specifically designed for this building by Gabetti and Isola, together with Luciano Re and Guido Drocco.
“Among these units, along the eleven meters of their depth, we have tried to represent the path machine-car, leading to watch one of the few shows that men are capable, albeit rarely, to offer themselves to contemplation: the mutations of nature with the changing seasons: it is a show that must be cared for like any other, by skilled directors, the stage must be fenced; we proposed a sort of theatre-boxes, housing-boxes. The inhabitants, even when using home appliances and television, feel that the show goes on behind the windows: behind the glass because the return of nature is impossible, but it exists.
Along these eleven meters of depth of the apartments, you can do many things. … But all the ones who pass through the streets of Ivrea, do not see all these things, they suspect them, as is suspected the mole from the molehills of soil.
In a year, an almost muddy piece of land, partly planted with corn, at the foot of the hill of Villa Casana, was raised gradually, becaming a green sloping lawn, joined with the hill, inflated. … A sort of half volcano crater to the bottom of which anyone can walk, can lean out to watch some water (instead of fire), the trees and the sun reflected on the glass or aluminum”.
(by R. Gabetti, A. Isola, Residenziale Ovest in Ivrea. Report)
Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola, with Guido Drocco,
Fifth Snam Office Building,
San Donato Milanese, Italy, 1985-1992
The “Fifth building” combines its transparency and lightness with the sense of nature intended as construction material. The building takes on the quality of the environment of a working place as an effective vehicle for the company’s image: an interior space enclosed and inhabited by an artificial lake, surrounded by glass facades with double enclosure crowned by green terraces. The project of Gabetti & Isola, with Guido Drocco, is the winner of a design competition by invitation announced by Snam in 1985. The proposal was drawn up according to the indication contained in the competition notice about the opportunity to differentiate the parts that make up the construction without sacrificing the unity of the building. It also expresses the will to compose the general needs of the client eager to have a building “technologically advanced”. Finally the project aimed at achieving a friendly service industry complex, a place of work but at the same time a park, overtly polemical against the building practice in the suburbs of the major Italian cities. The proposal is based on the adoption of a clear system, a sort of “amphitheater” slightly warped but with dimensions similar to those of the Colosseum, with a large lawn and a wide water surface at the center. The plan is developed in integrable shapes from a module of 3.60 m with its multiples and submultiples and distributes a series of adjacent buildings, autonomous and connectable to the various levels, while the offices aggregate into a planimetric terraced ring splittable into successive units. The drawings of presentation of the project, all traced on a square grid, illustrate this approach which proves to be able to redeem the implications of modularity, translating the definition of an articulated complex, ever-changing at varying points of view, original in determining its place in the landscape. In particular the bulding blocks, with their exposure to the sun, enjoy the existing landscape and constitute in part another landscape, entirely new, starting from the inner core: the whole complex is reflected into the inner water surface. The lake appears as a flat surface, slightly recessed from the surrounding ground, from which emerge the terraces with gardens disposed in increasing levels. Nature is used as a building material, surreally suspended in roof gardens, lying in the central court, compressed into greenhouses formed by the double glass facade. The internal “greenhouses” give consistency and reality to transparent structures, intended to contain the spaces of work.