Slab, point-access
Quarone, Ludovico,; Gabriella Esposito, Roberto Maestro, Luciano Rubino | Rome, Italy | 1964-65
Image of Casalino
Typical stepped slabs seen from the balcony/landscaped side.

ArchitectQuarone, Ludovico,; Gabriella Esposito, Roberto Maestro, Luciano Rubino
AddressVia Casilina/via dei Gordani/viale della Primavera/via Romolo Lombardi (SE of Central Rome).
Building TypeSlab, point-access
Number of Dwellingsc. 3000
Date Built1964-65
Dwelling Typesflats
No. Floors2-14
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
brick, precast concrete, stucco, metal
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicesshopping, offices, school, church, community spaces, underground parking.

Part of the planned expansion of the Roman suburbs defined in the 1964 Piano per l'Edilzia Economica e Popolare, included development of new communities on the east side of the city along the roads radiating from the old center, Via Casalina, Via Tusolana, the road to Frascati, Via Prenestina and Via Tiburtina, the road to Tivoli. These communities were to form a ring of new housing just inside the new ring road that was part of the 1962 Piano regolatore for Rome. Casalino, located along Via Casalino, is also an important site because it was at the edge of the old Centrocelle airport part of which is now being converted to a large regional park.

Casalino is a large project with 29 buildings built on a 50-hectare site and includes a community of over 12,000 dwellings including shopping, and schools and offices. This is co-op housing done for l'Istituto per lo Sviluppo dell'Edilizia Sociale. Viale della Primavera meanders along the east edge of the site, a commercial street defining a transition from the adjacent community while Via Casalino makes a boundary along the south that will be shared by the new Parco de Centocelle. Avoiding the stereotyped organization of a field of parallel rows of zeilenbau residential slabs, Casalino is organized on a system of 4, fan-shaped, radiating sets of point access slabs of varying heights that are generated by 4 points along viale delle Primavera. The landscaped open zone long the street is used for schools and public spaces. The residential blocks radiate out from this space in long narrow buildings that vary in height from 2 to 7 floors, in the groups adjacent to the public areas, but increase in height from 5 to 14 floors in the most westerly group. Typically, the residential blocks back up to a common parking area from which entrance is made to ground floor lobbies in the open pilotis under the building. Living areas and balconies on the opposite sides face landscaped areas between buildings. Vertical stairs define discrete divisions of the point-access blocks, articulated to mark height changes and building entrances. The larger buildings have one level of underground parking that is lighted from light wells on each side of the building. Along the eastern edge of the radiating organization, 1 and 2 story commercial buildings define inner courtyards that engage and interpenetrate the ends of the slabs. The ends of the radiating slabs are staggered to avoid a sharp alignment at either end. The tall ends of the slabs are detailed as elements that are partially freestanding in the enlarged space resulting from the radiating pattern and the open space to the west.

Within the format of the radiating system and stepping heights, a variety of building materials and details has been used. Brick is the dominant material however there are stucco walls on some buildings and some use precast concrete panels. Typically balconies are applied to both sides of each slab detailed either as an attached zone in brick, the depth of the balcony, or as applied precast concrete elements cantilevered outward. Stairs also vary from buildings to building but are typically made of precast concrete. Some modifications seem to have been made over time to the original wall panels and visible deterioration indicates subsequent modifications to the original materials. Metal windows and awnings are used throughout and aftermarket balcony glazing is common. All of this detail and material variety, however, does not seem to diminish consistency and force of the radiating idea.

The genesis of the geometry of Casalino seems arbitrary. There is no clear basis for this system resident in the site conditions. As a strategy to break down zeilenbau effects, the fact that the rows of buildings are not parallel, do not align at the ends and vary in height, seems to be an idea that is quite effective albeit dependent on keeping open space at the edges of the site. Also, the idea of alternating parking with landscaped space between slabs at least ensures a very pleasant garden view from the living spaces of most dwellings. The open pilotis has the advantage of eliminating the security and privacy problems with ground floor dwellings, but this also results in vast areas beneath buildings that are hardly used, a fact that is exaggerated by the parking lightwells which cannot be used as part of the pedestrian level. As with most Italian communities like this that were built as more-or-less isolated enclaves at the fringes of existing commercial centers, the minimal shopping in Casalino seems underused and unable to compete with shopping elsewhere resulting in closed store fronts and a lack of the activity necessary to make the courtyards fully functioning pedestrian spaces. Casalino is in surprisingly good condition after almost 40 years of use. The buildings seem to be well maintained there is absence of graffiti in the unoccupied spaces beneath buildings and around the commercial areas.

Rossi, Piero Ostillo, Roma Guida all'architettura moderna, Editori Laterza, Roma, 2000, pp. 266-7.

Ludovico Quaroni, Architettura per cinquant anni, pp. 176-77 (author, date and publisher unknown).

Cronache de architettura, vol. VI, no. 632, pp. 230-33.

Contraspazio, no. 2, juglio-augosto, 1973.

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