Architectural crystals

“Building and not rebuilding!”: after World War II, Ponti invited Italy to be reborn, directing it towards a solar and Mediterranean modernity, prefigured by his book L’architettura è un cristallo (1945) and reiterated in Amate l’Architettura (1957).

The new architecture must have a “closed, finite and immutable form” like that of a crystal in nature and, implicitly, reject the international model of a “glass box” building, spread above all by American culture.

Ponti therefore imagined segmented plants with façades pierced by curtain walls, windows or diamond-shaped holes; often, they are covered with shimmering ceramic surfaces while the roof hovers over the underlying structure.

The Pirelli skyscraper, built in Milan for the industrial group of the same name and now the Lombardy Region Council headquarters, is its emblem. Immediately recognizable “crystals” include the Garzanti foundation in Forlì, the two houses in the Harar-Dessie district, the hospital church San Carlo and Montedoria palace in Milan, villa Ercole in Arenzano and the Taranto Co-cathedral.

    1. Pirelli Skyscraper, Milan, Gio Ponti, Pier Luigi Nervi, Arturo Danusso, 1952-61
    2. Fondazione Garzanti, Forlì, Gio Ponti, 1954-57
    3. Harar Dessiè district, Milan, Gio Ponti, 1950-55
    4. Church of the San Carlo Hospital and Palazzo Montedoria, Milan, Gio Ponti, 1964-69
    5. Villa Ercole, Arenzano (GE), Gio Ponti, 1960
    6. Co-cathedral of the Great Mother of God, Taranto, Gio Ponti, 1964-70
    7. School of Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, Gio Ponti, Piero Portaluppi, Giordani Forti, 1953-61
    8. Carmelite Convent of Bonmoschetto, Sanremo (IM), Gio Ponti, 1955-58
    9. San Francesco al Fopponino, Milan, Gio Ponti, 1958-64
    10. Palazzo Montedoria, Milan, Gio Ponti, 1963-67
    11. Beetle under the leaf”, Malo (VI), Gio Ponti, interiors of  Nanda Vigo, 1964-66

Text by Maria Teresa Feraboli