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A Revision of the “Settlement Principle”

“Collegio di Milano” Student Residence


A Revision of the “Settlement Principle”
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -
Marazzi, Florim, Knauf have participated in the project

Let us begin by recalling a key episode in Italian architecture: Gregotti Associati firm winning the competition to build one of Milan’s most extensive urban expansions of the 1980s, Milan’s Bicocca district. Vittorio Gregotti was a towering figure in those years, the firm’s work ranging from large scale urban regeneration to graphic designs for books. As an architect, Gregotti had progressed through various stages. Starting at the end of the 1960s, he had linked large infrastructure briefs, like bridges and dams, with urban living requirements, a highly symbolic combination in an era when the debate around megastructures was an increasingly topical subject. In the 1980s, however, probably influenced by Aldo Rossi - something he always denied - Gregotti rediscovered the city, or rather the 19th-century bourgeois city, with its straight lines, its architecture diligently organized on regularly-spaced plots, the façades all preserving an unquestioned principle of decorum. Piuarch team, namely Francesco Fresa, Germán Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini and Monica Tricario, all started out at Gregotti e Associati at the beginning of the 1990s where they worked on numerous projects. Indeed, given the approach they would later take as an independent firm, it was with Gregotti that the foursome defined their expressive universe, not so much in continuity with but in opposition to their mentor. 
Piuarch is not an isolated phenomenon. If there is a recurring feature in Italy’s eclectic architecture, it is this dialectic continuity that seems to spring from successive breaks with the previous canon. The result is a virtual oxymoron: “Eclecticism in continuity” - a feature that is also reflected in Italy’s convoluted political history. Perhaps the continuity Piuarch has with Gregotti can be summed up in a phrase coined by Gregotti himself: the “settlement principle”. By this term, Gregotti meant the way...

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