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)