Sorgane neighborhood

Place: Florence, viale Benedetto Croce, via Isonzo, via Tagliamento

Authors: Giovanni Michelucci, Leonardo Ricci, Leonardo Savioli

Chronology: 1957 | 1980

Itinerary:  Building houses, making cities

Use: Social housing neighborhood

One of the most discussed urban plans of the Sixties, the Sorgane settlement was intended as a satellite city to be built on the hills south-east of the Florentine metropolitan area. The plan, originally coordinated by Giovanni Michelucci in 1957, was then resized and took the proportions of a neighborhood (from 12,000 to 4,000 inhabitants), located in the flat area on the slopes of the mountains.

The architectural design was entrusted to three groups coordinated by Ferdinando Poggi, Leonardo Ricci and Leonardo Savioli. The latter two, through a language that unites organicism and brutalism, created architectures that brought to Florence the strength of the utopia of the “macrostructure.” This was an idea of ​​a building-city that, in the Sixties, constituted a horizon for striving for a more innovative architectural culture, in an attempt to overcome a tradition linked to a more “daily” and vernacular vision of the neighborhood. The building called “La Nave” (1962-1966), considered one of the most important architectures of the twentieth century in Florence, was designed by a group guided by Leonardo Ricci. It is a linear structure that, with great expressive complexity, houses residences, shops, public spaces and galleries, housing access and garages.

The architectures of Ricci and Savioli are almost always made up of sequences of planes and spaces held together by systems of “vertebrae”, generally framing or supporting partitions. The living spaces are grafted onto this structure with recessed or protruding balconies, with roofs, canopies and walkways set into them.

Building D, designed by the Savioli group, is spread over 5 floors, the first two of which are empty. This space is occupied on the ground floor by garages, on the roof of which a public area for access to the stairwell was created.

The “Nave”, like almost all the blocks in the district, is made of exposed concrete to emphasize the role of the structure. The whole building is distributed by a long suspended gallery, a sort of high-altitude road, accessible from the urban level through open stairways. The elevations are characterized by a great plasticity determined by the overhangs of balconies and walkways, by the presence of inclined and protruding roofs, and by the detail of the beams. The ends of “La Nave” exhibit a strongly expressive, symmetrical, but at the same time dynamic design.

The stairs give access to the common balcony, which serves the accommodations on the first level. The  dwellings on Via Enrico De Nicola are served by a long balcony.

Text by Luca Reale
Photos by Alessandro Lanzetta