Residential unit in Borgo Ulivia

Place: Palermo, via dell’Airone, via dell’Allodola, via S. Filippo, via Villagrazia

Authors: masterplan: Giuseppe Caronia, Luigi Epifanio, Vittorio Ziino e Vincenzo Nicoletti; residential unit “Nucleo Sperimentale”: Antonio Bonafede, Roberto Calandra, Edoardo Caracciolo, Giuseppe Samonà; other interventions: Gescal offices

Chronology: 1956 | 1973

ItineraryBuilding houses, making cities

Use: Residential district, shops and services

A fragment of a compact city in the open countryside, the Borgo Ulivia neighborhood was designed in late ‘50s. The first nucleus was designed by Samonà, Bonafede, Calandra e Caracciolo. It is a typical INA-Casa neighborhood, but, at the same time, it looks original, unique one, quite distinct from the rest of Palermo architectures dating back to the same years.

The neighborhood, located on the southern outskirts of Palermo and settled between the Oreto river and the ring road, is set on a baricentrical road, which becomes in its central section a large green space, open to the south.

Made in different phases between 1958 and 1973, the intervention shows some recurring elements: the relationship between the buildings and the street as a place for socialization, and the structure on the façade, used as a modular element both typical solutions in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The idea of ​​a city made of narrow streets with shops on the ground floor, typical of the historic alleys of Palermo, gives shape to the Experimental Nucleus of Giuseppe Samonà in the western section of the intervention (above), while in its eastern part predominates an iterative residential system based on open courtyards, bordered by four linear buildings, with three floors of pilotis houses (below).

The passing courtyards are now closed by gates that have transformed the ground, imagined by architects as a continuous crossing space, into a series of private parking boxes.

Text by Luca Reale
Photos by Alessandro Lanzetta