12.05.2018

The Metaphysical City

What would a city built from scratch by applying the principles of Rationalism look like? Here is the story of Tresigallo, a little town in northern Italy that looks like a Metaphysical painting

  • The Metaphysical City
  • The Metaphysical City
  • The Metaphysical City
  • The Metaphysical City
  • The Metaphysical City
  • The Metaphysical City

Travelling from Ferrara towards the Adriatic Sea, you may stumble into a mirage: in the middle of the plain, not far from the delta of river Po, the imposing architecture of Tresigallo appears out of nowhere, with its perfect geometries, evanescent colors and unexpectedly tall towers.
 
Also known as "The Metaphysical City", Tresigallo actually looks  like the three-dimensional version of a work by the famous Italian Metaphysical painter Giorgio De Chirico, or the life-size planning model of an ideal city. Truth be told, Tresigallo is a mix of both elements. It has the driving force of Futurism and the architectural rigor of Rationalism, blended to build a utopian city from scratch with the aim of creating a place where entrepreneurs and peasants would live side by side, where the land and its fruits would coexist with the factories needed both to process them and to manufacture farm machinery, eventually reviving an area otherwise destined to be abandoned.
 
Everything started between 1933 and 1939, when Edmondo Rossoni, a native of the village, became the Minister of Agriculture and gathered the resources needed to carry out an ideal emancipation of this farmlands, previously exploited as extensive agricultural estates. As a consequence, the small rural community expanded to reach 12,000 inhabitants, an impressive growth abruptly interrupted by the beginning of the Second World War, which caused the local population to decrease. Ad of today, Tresigallo has barely 4,000 inhabitants, a sparse population which makes the majesty of its architecture appear even more surreal.
 
To visit Tresigallo means to walk inside the idea of ​​a city, an idea guided by the principles of Rationalism and the undisputed primacy of function over form, of the utilitarian function  of buildings and objects: to quote Louis Henry Sullivan, architect and founder of American Modernism, "form ever follows function". The orderly appearance and the cleanliness of the elements is a direct consequence of this principle: design must be comprehensible, and every form of decoration is an element of potential confusion. The overall balance must produce a sense of quiet, the result of the harmony between aesthetics and engineering. Finally, the most debated point: the Rationalists’ belief that prioritizing function would automatically generate beauty.
 
Today, the story of this forgotten city is safeguarded and passed on by the localTorri di Marmoassociation, which invites architecture students to enter this village suspended in time to actually experience what they have been studying in books, feeling with every sense how architectural thinking can transform space and shape our everyday life and perceptions. Visiting Tresigallo is a literally unique experience, a veritable journey into beauty, history and architecture.
 
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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