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Back to the block : rethinking the urban tissue in Vanchiglia district

Ilaria Maria Zedda

Back to the block : rethinking the urban tissue in Vanchiglia district.

Rel. Silvia Malcovati, Christian Rapp, Haike Apelt. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2015



The work subject of the present thesis is the result of a year-lasting collaboration between the Polytechnic University of Turin and Eindhoven Technical University’s Chair of Rational Architecture, guided by Professor Silvia Malcovati as Italian Supervisor and Professor Christian Rapp together with Haike Apelt as Dutch Supervisors.

The exchange Project focused on the city of Turin and bears the name “Gran Torino Graduation Studio”.

The work was focused on the city of Turin and involved sixteen students of both universities.

Starting from a typo-morphological analysis on the architectures of the city, from its Roman past until the most recent times, it concluded with sixteen individual designs developed from each single student’s research question, in which the outcomes of the first analysis were also taken into account.

The researches carried out in the first semester of work led to the publication of Gran Torino Atlas, which provides a complete overview on the city development, together with those architectural changes that accompanied it along the centuries.

The first months of work were mainly dedicated to the above mentioned publication: each of the teams, made up of an Italian student and a Dutch one, dealt with one among the different chapters that the Atlas consists of.

Within the Program the Italian students were given the chance to spend five months in Eindhoven working on their individual thesis, collaborating with Dutch students and learning from the Dutch method.

With those inputs and background information in mind, the sixteen individual designs proceeded.

Being the “19th century Bourgeoise Turin” the field that I personally analyzed more in depth within tfee above mentioned Atlas, it almost automatically led to deal with one of the most representative typologies of the century, that of the Urban Block.

The resiliency of the nineteenth century European urban fabric is notable, and Turin makes no exception: most of the intervention carried out in those years still represent valuables examples of architecture in the city fabric.

The analysis presented in the Atlas, whose outcomes will be shown in the first chapter, focused on the area of Porta Nuova. This part of Turin was marked by one of the most remarkable intervention in the city during the 19th century thanks to the realization of the train station in 1861-64 and the consequent growth of the city. However, for the last and most important step of the work, the individual design, Vanchiglia district has been chosen, an area which basically developed in the same years and in a similar way to Porta Nuova’s one.

The research allowed to point out both values and weaknesses of Turin’s traditional urban block, together with the awareness of those transformations that the type went through along the decades and that also form today part of it.

Building upon this, the second chapter deals more in depth with the urban block, apart from Turin’s specificities. It summarizes first of all the main points of the debate arisen on the topic over the twentieth century and then it carries on providing an overview on the most important features of the block and its social values. The urban block implies a particular social structure and works better when it hosts economical activity, not only residence.

From this forward follow the contents of chapter three, with which I intend to hand the reader over with examples of various models of block from different cities, both traditional and contemporary.

The fourth chapter then drives again the attention of the reader on Turin, providing an overview on the contemporary situation in the city as far as it concerns the latest architectural and urban intervention realized.

The attention would be then moved on the district of Vanchiglia, with the aim of proving the rationality of intervening in its tissue with blocks, conceived as urban tools able to restore a valuable compact tissue where it got damaged.

In this part of the city the regular grid conceived by Alessandro Antonelli on the eastern side of Piazza Vittorio Veneto was never fully turned into reality because of the settlement of many factories in the same area a few years later.

The fifth chapter eventually focuses on this district of Turin and introduces to the last part of the work, in which the project is finally described.

My intention is not herein to state that my design proposal represents the best solution that could ever be thought for the city and for its area; what I would like to underline is the importance of the method that led to it.

The work is to be seen as an “academic exercise” which put together theory and design.

As far as it concerns my work, it all started from the will to try to test the possibility to intervene in Turin - not in its periphery yet in a crucial point of the 19th century city which did not developed as expected-with one of its historical urban components, the urban block, or if there is no other option instead for the designer but to give up to the “architecture of objects”. To put that into practice, the design started from the hypothesis of a tabula rasa on the picked up area to rethink it in accordance with the typical layout of Turin, the urban grid with blocks.

Both the knowledge of the place- with its tradition and identity- as well as that of the typology studied and of the range of alternative models that derive from it, result therefore prerequisites of fundamental importance for such ambition.

Relators: Silvia Malcovati, Christian Rapp, Haike Apelt
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: A Architettura > AF Buildings and equipment for leisure, social activities, sport
U Urbanistica > UK Pianificazione urbana
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/4314


1. Gran Torino Atlas: 19th century Turin and the Bourgeoise urban block

1.1 The bourgeoise Turin of the 19th century

1.2 Building typologies for the arising class

1.3 The 19th century traditional block in Turin, typological analysis

1.3.1 Palazzo Colosso

1.3.2 Casa Ponzio Vaglia- Aghemio Ferroggio

1.3.3 Block in Via Assietta- San Secondo

1.4 Alessandro Antonelli, residences in Vanchiglia

1.3.1 Casa Antonelli

1.3.2 Casa Carlo Rosso

1.5 Weaknesses of the traditional typology

2. “Vom der Zeile Zur Block”

2.1 The death of the Urban Block

2.2 Seeking for a definition

2.3 Urban Block and Public Realm

2.4 Elements and topics related with the type

2.5 The size of the block

1. Typology and models

1.1 Traditional examples

1.2 Models in comparison: Compactness vs. “Porosity”

1.3 Models in comparison: Uniform vs. “Collage Block”

2. 21th Century TUBHI

2.1 Objects of architecture

2.2 Architectural objects in Turin

2.3 The undisclosed Turin

2.4 From theory to practice, the individual design

3. “Borg dëlfum”, history and present trends

3.1 Premises: re sewing Vanchiglia

3.2 Historical notes

3.3 Vanchiglia: what is goin on

4. “Back to the Block” in Vanchiglia, the Design

4.1 Issues and aims

4.2 Masterplan

4.3 The undisclosed Turin

4.4 From theory to practice, the individual design

5. “Borg dëlfum”, history and present trends

5.1 Premises: re sewing Vanchiglia

5.2 Historical notes

5.3 Vanchiglia: what is goin on

6. “Back to the Block” in Vanchiglia, the Design

6.1 Issues and aims

6.2 Masterplan

6.3.1 The Block: guidelines

6.3.2 Traditional and contemporary references

6.3.3 Variety and order, solutions


Image References




Bibliographical sources for the typological research and analysis

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Bergeron C.H. (1973) City planning in Turin, 1800-1865, from Napoleon I to the first capital of Italy. Princeton University

Scarzella P. (1995) Torino nell’ Ottocento e nel Novecento : ampliamenti e trasformazioni entro la cerchia dei corsi napoleonici. Torino: Edizioni Celid,

Cavallari Murat A. (1968) Forma urbana ed architettura nella Torino barocca : dalle premesse classiche alle conclusioni neoclassiche. Istituto di architettura tecnica del Politecnico di Torino. Torino: Edizioni UTET.

Comoli Mandracci V., Olmo C. (2000) Turin. Project and photographs by Lorenzo Capellini .Torino : Allemandi.

Comoli Mandracci, V. (1983) Torino. Roma- Bari: Edizioni Laterza.

Passanti M. (1969) Lo sviluppo urbanistico di Torino dalla fondazione all’unità d’Italia. Torino: Edizioni Quaderni di Studio.

Bracco G. and Comoli Mandracci V. (2004) Torino da capitale politica a capitale dell’industria. Torino : Edizioni ASCT.

Comoli Mandracci V. (1983) La capitale per uno stato : Torino, studi di storia urbanistica. Torino : Edizioni Celid.

Comoli Mandracci V., Fasoli V. (1996) 1851-1852 : il piano d’ingrandimento della Capitale. Torino: Edizioni ASCT.

Bibliographical sources about the research theme

Bourbon E (2008), Torino dietro le facciate : attraverso gli androni, nei cortili, su per le scale, sotto i tetti. Vercelli, Whitelight.

Caja M„ Malcovati S. (2009^ Berlino 1990-2010 : la ricerca sull’isolato e sul quartiere. Milano, Lampi di stampa, Milano.

Komossa, S. (2005), Atlas of the Dutch urban block, assembled and edited by Susanne Komossa. Bussum, Thoth.

Claessens E (2005), Mapping urban and social space: towards a socio-cultural understanding of the built environment. Conference Paper, Delft University of Technology.

Jacobs J. (1961), The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Random House- Vintage Books, New York City.

Jacobs J. (1970), The Economy of Cities. RE ISSUE Edition. Vintage Books, New York City.

Krier L. (1984), Houses, palaces, cities, edited by Demetri Porphyrios. - London: AD.

Krier L. (2009), The Architecture of Community. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Neumeyer E (2015), What is a facade? Learning From Alberti. Translated in Italian by Malcovati S. as Cose una facciata? Imparare da Alberti. Edizioni Libreria Cortina Milano.

Panerai P., Castex J. & Depaule JC. (1977), Formes urbaines : de l’ìlot à la barre. Parenthèses edition, Marseille. Translated in English as (2004) Urban forms : The death and life of the urban block. Oxford Architectural Press.

Reale L. (2012), La città compatta: sperimentazioni contemporanee sull’isolato urbano europeo. Gangemi, Rome.

Salat S. (2011), with the collaboration of Labbé F., Nowacki C., Cities and forms : on sustainable urbanism". CSBT.

Sonne, W. (2005), Dwelling in the metropolis: reformed urban blocks 1890-1940. Project Report, University of Strathclyde and Royal Instituteof British Architects (RIBA), Glasgow, UK.

VV.AA. (1978), L’isolato urbano/ The Urban Block. Lotus International nr. 19, Milano.

Bibliographical sources about Turin and Vanchiglia

Ferraris G. E. (2001), 'L borgh delfum : storia e memorie di Vanchiglietta. Graphot ed. Torino.

Ferraris G. E. (2008), Il borgo si racconta : Vanchiglia, Vanchiglietta e Borgh del fum tra microstoria e memoria. Graphot ed. Torino. Dardanello G., Tamborrino R. (2008), Guarini, Juvarra e Antonelli : segni e simboli per Torino. Silavana ed., Torino.

Rosso F. (1989), Alessandro Antonelli. 1798 -1888. Electa, Milano.

General Bibliographical sources

Argan G.C. (1965) Sul concetto di tipologia in architettura. Progetto e destino, Milano Hertzberger H. (1991), Lessons for students of architecture. Rotterdam, Uitgeverij.

Holl S. (1995), Pamphlet Architecture #5: The Alphabetical City. Princeton Architectural Press, NY.

Marti Aris C. (1996) Le variazioni dell’identità, Il tipo in architettura. Città Studi edizioni, Torino.

Monestiroli A., (2002), La metopa e il triglifo : nove lezioni di architettura. Bari : Laterza, Rome.

Norberg-Schulz C. (1979), Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. Rizzoli, Milano De Quincy, Q. (1992), Dizionario storico dell’Architettura.Venezia. Marsilio.

Secchi B. (2000), Prima lezione di urbanistica. Bari GLF Laterza, Rome.

Sitte C. (1899), Der Städtebau nach seinen Künstlerischen Grundsätzen Wien . Translated in English by Collins G.R. and Collins C.C as (1965) City Planning According to Artistic Principles. London, Phaidon.

Rossi A. (1966), L’architettura della città. Marsilio, Padova.

Rowe C. and Koetter R (1978), Collage City, MIT Press, Boston.

Graduation Thesis

Callea S. (2011), Ex opificio militare : il progetto fulcro per la rigenerazione urbana del quartiere “Borgh dèlfum” a Torino. Supervisor Fubini A., Mellano P.; Second supervisor Grella A., Torino.

Delia A. (2013), Progetti per la città compatta- Il caso di San Salvario a Torino. Bachelor thesis, Supervisor Malcovati S., Torino Fabbiano Tiziana (2007), Torino : storia e morfologia di borgo Vanchiglia, Supervisor Lupo G. M., Torino.

Mainerò M.(2000), Una fabbrica da riscoprire : ex opificio militare : una proposta di riqualificazione. Mainerò M„ Ramello M., Villa R, Supervisors Luzi E., Barelli M. L„ Torino.

Perol C. (2011), Alessandro Antonelli, residenza e città - raccolta di esempi. Bachelor thesis, Supervisor Malcovati S., Torino

Web pages




Other sources

Archivio Storico della Città di Torino (ASCT), Pratiche edilizie

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