Slab, point-access
Barucci, Pietro,; Mario Avagnina, Simone Ombuen, Guido Palombi, M. Cristina Perugia, Patrizia Pizzinato | Rome, Italy | 1982-88
Image of Quartaccio
4-story slabs on pilotis, facade detail.

ArchitectBarucci, Pietro,; Mario Avagnina, Simone Ombuen, Guido Palombi, M. Cristina Perugia, Patrizia Pizzinato
AddressVia de Quartaccio/Via Anderson (NW suburbs of Rome)
Building TypeSlab, point-access
Number of Dwellingsc. 600
Date Built1982-88
Dwelling TypesNA
No. Floors3-4
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
concrete, metal
Construction TypePrecast concrete panels
Ancillary Servicesshops, offices, church, school, community center

Quartaccio is one of the new settlements built in the western suburbs of Rome under the 1962 and 1983 plans for economical social housing. Along with its sister community of Torrevecchia on an adjacent hill, it has been built as an extension to the existing borgata of Primavalle located a short distance from the end of the Metro ?A? line. The regional geography consists of parallel ridges and wooded valleys and Torrevecchia and Quartaccio are separated by one of these shallow valleys. Quartaccio is an Istituti Automoni per le Case Popolari project, and was designed under revised, more stringent building standards as emergency housing in the period just before the Piano per l'Edilizia Economica e Popolare was approved in 1984. The site is about 30 hectares and houses 2400 people.

Quartaccio is built on a long narrow ridge and the idea of the plan and section is to create a modern hill town. Building takes the form of 4 parallel rows of low point-access slabs that define a central pedestrian walk. These buildings step in height from 4 stories in the center, to three stories in the outer rows and step in section following the contours. Vehicular streets to either side are lined where there are small gardens for the lower dwelling. Marking one end of the meandering rows of apartments is a small plaza area that is a modest commercial center with a bar, bakery and some outdoor vendors, and a church. A community center was under construction at the time of this writing and several commercial spaces were unused and closed. Two of the apartment blocks are turned 90 degrees to the street step in height and partially enclose the plaza area. Other parking is provided beneath the 4 story blocks and is lighted from lightwells along the sides of the buildings. All the apartment slabs are point-access types organized with either 2 or 4 dwellings per level per elevator. The lower residential blocks are organized with a 4 person flat at the upper floor and a duplex for 6 that is entered at grade but connects to a lower floor and opens to a small, walled-in garden.

A system of prefabricated concrete panels is the basic construction system. The exteriors reflect this modular quality and windows and small balcony openings are detailed as punched openings in facades dominated by wall surface. Some of the 90-degree blocks are raised on pilotis to provide entrance lobbies and some parking. The long blocks, however, have dwellings at grade although the interior floor level is a few feet above the level of the walks. In the 3 story buildings, the upper floor cantilevers out a few feet above the sidewalk providing at least some relief to the otherwise planer and repetitive facades. The cross section of the town is the compelling concept of Quartaccio. The paradigm of the linear hilltop form is also an obvious idea. Limiting the height to 4 floors and stepping from the center to the perimeter reinforces this concept. The elementary facades recall earlier Rationalist housing of the 1930's, projects like Franco Albini's Fabio Filzi slabs in Milan, for example: identical parallel rows of zeilenbau rendered as astringent exercises in geometric composition and structural determinism. The reduction of dwelling size and the obvious economic limitations of building materials and details that resulted from the changes to the building laws that occurred when this project was built as emergency housing certainly affected the design quality of the buildings. This problem also may have contributed to the lack of appropriate site development resulting in a community that is unfinished, lacking many basic amenities, and one that seems to be deteriorating. Like Fabrizi, the central pedestrian walk lacks architectural detail and the few trees planted here do little to improve the quality of the space and it is desolate and underused.. The light wells that light the basement parking cut into the space of the central walk and are walled for safety and to, provide a certain degree of privacy and security to the ground floor apartments. But these low parapets further reduce the width of an already narrow space and, in any event this is a non sequitur because the garages have been closed off and are unused. The commercial establishments in the center of town seem to be marginalized by better, more complete shopping opportunities elsewhere, but probably always suffered from the general ill-defined spaces here. Closed shops, unoccupied offices, burned-out cars, discarded appliances, graffiti, and a ubiquitous unkempt quality are not the qualities of a community space where the people of Quartaccio will want to gather.

Rossi, Piero Ostilio,Roma, Guida all'architettura moderna 1909-2000, Editori Laterza, Rome, 2000, pp. 349-50.

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