Story 04. The elegance of the dissident

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“I moved away from dogmatic rationalism as I have always believed that there was more to architecture, something difficult to achieve with rationalism.” IGNAZIO GARDELLA, 1995.2

HOUSING FOR BORSALINO EMPLOYEES Ignazio Gardella Corso Teresio Borsalino (Alessandria-Italy) 1948-1952 44°54’25.28”N / 8°36’55.00”E

In later life, Ignazio Gardella stated that he no longer believed in the relationship between reason and beauty but that he still believed in the relationship between beauty and truth and that truth is not attained by rational means alone.1 He maintained his scepticism regarding the rationalist standard -all that is useful is beautiful- and preferred to believe the opposite: all that is beautiful is useful. This clash of opinions is the key to his work and explains his position in the Italian panorama in the pre-war and in dialectical post-war years. At that time of manifestos and movements, while unbroken loyalties were being declared and politics and trends were being redefined, in a small city in the Piamonte region, world-famous for its hats, Gardella was building dwellings for the workers of the Borsalino factory. A modest construction project with 32 dwellings, with a familiar feel -ceramic brickwork, wooden shutters, eaves to protect the facade-... Houses similar to many others. However, these houses were annoyingly arrogant. They refused to show their structure and would not reveal their floor plan. They were overly elegant in their modesty, displaying too much unnecessary beauty and this was inexcusable.

Corso Teresio Borsalino

45.7 m

0 1 2

1. Antonio Monestiroli. “Eleganza viene da eligere, ovvero da scegliere.” Casabella 736, 2005.




2. Antonio Monestiroli. Op. cit.


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