Architecture & Human Needs
Giancarlo de Carlo (Team 10)


Giancarlo de Carlo With Model Of Urbino

©Monica Pidgeon

I am Italian and I was born in Genoa, but I lived in Genoa for a very short time. Then I went around with my family and I went in many different towns, and then I went in Tunisia, and then I came back to Italy. So I cannot say that I had a home town. In a way I an! a cosmopolitan. And this is something I complain all my life, as I wanted to belong to a place, a specific place. At the same time, I think it was an advantage because I was always very curious of places and I try to understand places very deeply as in a wish of appropriating them. I didn't have a particular vocation to architecture when I was very young. And then most of the second world war I began to be interested in architecture, and I decided to be an architect, but at the same time there was the war. Even though I was anti—fascist I had to go to the war. But at the same time I became a member of the Underground organisation. As soon as‘the war was finished and fascism fell down, I became a Partisan. I'm saying that because I think it was important in my life, also it was important in my life as an architect, because in the Partisan period I got accustomed to decide upon values and especially also to know people, to know places very carefully, because it was dangerous not knowing places. And so it was important to understand everything, where you were and with whom you were. Then the war was finished in '45 and I immediately began to work as an architect and I went to other offices — as all young people do - I went in the office of Ignazio Gardella and Franco Albini, two distinguished architects. It was a period when to find work was very difficult and so it was a period of studies for me, and also I began to write something in architecture. I wrote a small book on Corbusier, a sort of collection of writings by Corbusier, a sort of collections of writings by Corbu but very short writings with comments. And this was a component in my formation as an architect. But there was another component which was related to my formation again, to the studies of that period. I wrote a small book on William Morris, and I studied the period of William Morris and I studied also all that line of architecture which developed in England especially; which seemed to me at that time - and I keep considering it very important — something that was forgotten at a certain point but very important as one of the major lives, the more fruitful lines in architecture. So I got familiar with Patrick Geddes and also the knowledge or the familiarity Patrick Geddes is still important to me. I've been working in observatories, you know, and also in an outlook tower recently for Siena which is certainly influenced you know by the work he was> Edinburgh.


Flats, San Giovanni, Milan

©Giancarlo de Carlo

After the period of practising I began to work. And the first thing I did was a houSe close to Milan in San Giovanni. And it was a house made upon all the principles of Functionalism; which was the theory very successful or very up-to- date in Italy at that time. Nevertheless, I was a bit reluctant in accepting the easy way of understanding Rationalism and Functionalism. It seemed to me that there was a lot of common places about that, there was a lot of formalism attached to Rationalism. I began to work with Ernesto Rogers, because Ernesto Rogers was at that time the director of Casabella, the editor of Casabella, and he asked me to be a member of the board. But I had very strong discussions with Ernesto. We were very close friends but we couldn't go along with our interpretation of architecture at that time. For Ernesto the problem was to continue the gospel of Corbusier. For me, I was younger, the idea was that architecture is an open activity and you have to invent or re-invent any time. You cannot just lie and sleep in the shadow of another architect, even though the other architect is very important, as Corbusier was. When I saw the building of San Giovanni built, I asked myself if this could have been a goal in my life. And I thought that many things were excluded by that sort of architecture, and that the objective of architecture is to establish a communication with human beings and to communicate noble messages, to depict a possibility of having a better life. And I still believe that this is architecture. I believe that architecture is strongly related to what Vetruvius said, I mean architecture should stand up, it should be comfortable and beautiful. But the three things have to go together. It's very difficult to separate one from the other. So I changed in a way. Looking now what I did at that time, it doesn't seem to me a big change. But at that time it seemed to be a big change.

Thanks for previewing this talk

If you would like to view the whole talk please follow one of the following links


Or if you already have an account: