Villa Ronconci was designed by the Italian architect Saverio Busiri Vici. It was built in Rome, Italy in the early seventies (1970-1973). The two-story building is designed for residential purposes. It was built in the architectural style of Brutalism. It is referred to as a ‘brutalist sanctuary’. Saverio Busiri Vici developed more and more experimental approaches in his designs. Villa Ronconci is a good example of this understanding. It can be seen in how concrete is used to shape the villas’ form. Also, the way the architect plays with positive and negative space and shadow and light makes the approach even more evident.
Saverio Busiri Vici
Saverio Busiri Vici was born in 1927 and came from a family of architects that dates back to the early 1600s. After his graduation in architecture, he established his professional studio in Rome. Until today, he has produced numerous works of architecture, urban planning, and design, as well as carrying out competitions, etc. At the same time, he collaborated with his father, Clemente (1887–1965), who issued him a certificate of collaboration on various important works. In the early 1960s, while working, he travelled and had the opportunity to meet and witness the work of various architectural figures of the time, including Aalto, Le Corbusier, and Rudolph. Le Corbusier, in particular, left a significant personal dedication following the various architectural meetings in Paris and Roquebrune. He maintained relations with Le Corbusier‘s studio even after his death; he published an essay (1966) taken from various documentations of him as well as an interview that has remained unpublished. Besides his professional activity in architecture, he also has other interests. Such as painting and sculpture, in the sense of bringing together the various artistic disciplines in architecture.
Villa Ronconci was designed during the experimental period of architect Saverio Busiri Vici. From the first encounter with the building, it reveals clear feelings in people in terms of its exterior design. The unique appearance of the exterior makes the structure attract attention. The exterior facade creates dramatic patterns with its tiered surfaces and deep recesses. Including light and shadow play in the pattern makes it even more dramatic. Villa Ronconci was designed in the architectural style of brutalism. The intense and raw image of concrete and the geometric design created with interlocking tiers fit the characteristics of this movement quite well.
When viewed from the plan, the two-story villa is used for residential purposes. According to the structure’s plans, the interior space is designed to be quite spacious and easily accessible between rooms, in contrast to its interlocking layered, complex facade. The windows do not reveal themselves easily when looking at the façade on a human scale. Nevertheless, they are easily understood in the plans. When examined on a human scale and in three dimensions, the lack of glass in the building highlights the concrete material even more. This impression gives the structure a more memorable image. However, Villa Ronconci was exposed to a significant restyling in 2016 that radically changed its appearance.
Villa Ronconci is an example of Brutalist Architecture. In the 1950s, British post-war reconstruction emerged as Brutalist Architecture. It is a style with an emphasis on materials. This style uses simple, bare, strong, and reinforced building materials. Also, Brutalist structures are distinguished by their substantial, blocky, and monolithic appearance, rigid geometric design, and extensive use of poured concrete. As well as concrete, other materials commonly used in brutalist buildings included brick, glass, steel, and rough-hewn stone. The movement started to lose popularity in the 1970s after receiving harsh criticism for being unwelcoming and inhumane.
When looking at the features of Villa Ronconci, its unusual geometric design with straight lines and rough and unfinished surfaces clearly shows this structure was influenced by Brutalism. The use of concrete as a material is dominant in the entire structure, as is its display of texture. Saverio Busiri Vici shows the concrete from which the building was constructed without covering it with facings. This material preference gives the structure a heavy-looking appearance. Also, it creates a powerful image.
When considering Villa Ronconci regarding sustainability, concrete is an eco-friendly material because it lasts for a long time. Brutalist Architecture generally uses concrete for structure. However, there are concerns about this material. For instance, its energy efficiency and industry. The concrete industry is one of the biggest producers of carbon dioxide. Also, concrete can cause flooding and soil erosion.
Furthermore, ingredients in concrete can harm the air and maybe poisonous or radioactive. Barnabas Calder, historian and author of Raw Concrete, says, “I don’t think we should be using concrete at all. Of course, it looks lovely but has a massive carbon footprint. We should only keep what we have got and not build anymore.”
Additionally, the movie titled “Tenebrae”, written and directed by Dario Argento, is a horror movie about an American writer in Rome who is stalked and harassed by a serial killer who takes part in its scenes in Villa Ronconci. Its sturdy, monolithic design and dramatic plays with light and shadow suit the movie ambience very well.
Reference List :
- www.saveriobusirivici.it. (n.d.). Architetto» SAVERIO BUSIRI VICI. [online] Available at: http://www.saveriobusirivici.it/biografia.html [Accessed 31 Dec. 2022].
- Designing Buildings (2016). Brutalism – Designing Buildings Wiki. [online] Designingbuildings.co.uk. Available at: https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Brutalism.
- RIBA (2019). Brutalism. [online] Architecture.com. Available at: https://www.architecture.com/explore-architecture/brutalism.
- Wainwright, O. (2019). Brutal beauty: how concrete became the ultimate lifestyle concept. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/26/how-concrete-became-the-ultimate-lifestyle-concept-brutalism-architecture
- Argento, D., Argento, D., Franciosa, A., Gemma, G. and Saxon, J. (1984). Tenebre. [online] IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084777/.