Paolo Portoghesi and the Field Theory

Contemporary to Perugini, Portoghesi has been working on an alternative model for organising space and therefore creating a different kind of architectural expression. Like Perugini, he had a deep interest in Baroque architecture having researched the Baroque architecture of Borromini.

In a time before real computing started to influence and inform the production of architecture both Perugini and Portoghesi played iwht ideas of a computational architecture. In this era of what Roberto Botazzi calls ‘Pretend Computing’ design decisions were not made following traditional compositional rules. They explored an alternative way of proto-parametric design.

Portoghesi explored this in his Field Theory in several projects developing an architecture where the composition leaves room for alternative modes of inhabitation and occupation. The architecture is created using soft tools allowing the form to emerge from a set of different parameters set out in the design process. The field allows for growth, it can reflect diverse changes in the process and almost acts as a framework to hold the ideas together.

‘A further element used as a dialogue tool is given by the conception of concentric circles, which among other things is a bit at the basis of my architectural theory of magnetic fields, according to which the architectural space can be compared to the latter. Therefore, I used these concentric circles to represent, in a certain sense, the multiplicity in unity. The concentric circles, which are then part of the cosmic conception of Islam given by the 7 skies that Mohammed crossed, are precisely at the base of the circle of the dome. As for the general distribution of the volumes, the curvature of these is due, on the one hand, to the magnetic field of the city and on the other hand to the magnetic field typical of Islam, that is, the reference to Mecca. The curvatures in this case are very dampened because the terrain was limited but the concept is the one mentioned above. Physics theorizes the effect from a distance. Similarly, architecture has its own nature that creates an effect a remote distance.’

Part from in interview with Paolo Portoghesi

Paolo Portoghesi: Casa Papanice, Rome 1966-1969


Lucio Passarelli

Lucio Passarelli (1922-2016) was originally an engineer, he was awarded a honorary degree in architecture by Sapienza University in Rome.

During his career he worked with Bruno Zevi and the APAO. With Zevi he founded the INARCh in 1959.

Edificio Polifunzionale, 1965

Studio Link LINK

Artribune LINK

Ludovico Quaroni

Ludovico Quaroni (1911-1987) was an Italian Urbanist, Architect, Essayist, and University Professor.

In 1938 he designed the Piazza imperiale Roma EUR with Saverio Muratori and Luigi Moretti.

 In 1946 he joined the APAO, Association for Organic Architecture, founded by Bruno Zevi.

During his career, he worked on the re-construction of Gibellina and the modernisation of a village near Matera as part of the INA-Casa movement.  

His work is collected in the Olivetti Archive. LINK

Ludovico Quaroni, Project of the new office building of the Chamber of Deputies, Roma 1967

The Ball Church in Gibellina, 1972

Atribune LINK

Architetti LINK

Iginio Cappai

Iginio Cappai (1932-1999), Venice.

The La Serra Complex in Ivrea designed by Iginio Cappai and Pietro Mainardis (1976). It was a social gathering space for Olivetti employees and included a hotel and movie theater.

Antonio Foscari and Iginio Cappai, 1967

LINK NY times

Giancarlo De Carlo

Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005) studied architecture in Milan and in Venice.

In 1956 he was involved in the Matera projects by the INA-Casa with numerous other architects at the time. He participated in the CIAM congress from 1952-1960.

In his professional teaching career in 1968, he sought a constructive dialogue with his students and published a series of essays in which he publicized a much more democratic and open participatory architecture.

Giancarlo de Carlo, City Hall, Amsterdam, 1967

Collegio del Colle, Urbino, 1966

University College in Colle dei Cappuccini, 1962-1983

Luigi Daneri

The Italian architect Luigi Daneri (1900-1972) studied at Genua and after the WW2 he participated in the INA-CASA, the reconstruction of housing in Italy. The Italian state established a program of building houses for workers, in order to give jobs to workers: the realization of the plan was entrusted to NA Assitalia SpA, an insurance company.

Hs is most known for his work on the co-ordination of the architectural design for parts of the INA-Casa district for 4,500 inhabitants called Forte Quezzi in Genoa (1956-1958). Forte Quezzi

Il Biscione, Forte Quezzi, 1956-1958


Umberto Eco, The Open Work

Umberto Eco, (1932-2016) was an internationally acclaimed writer, philosopher, medievalist, professor, and the author of the best-selling novels Foucault’s Pendulum, The Name of the Rose, and The Prague Cemetery.

His numerous nonfiction books include Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Confessions of a Young Novelist, and The Open Work.

His book The Open Work is still considered significant for its concept of an openness in art (and architecture) —the creator’s decision to leave certain arrangements of a work open to the public to chance and to complete the work.

It embraces the element of multiplicity and plurality in art and the insistence of an interactive process between viewer/participant and piece/building.

The main questions Umberto Eco raises are intertwined in a continuing debate on literature, art, architecture, etc.

In terms of Perugini’s work with the Casa Sperimentale it can be seen that the family did not see the composition as the primary driving element for the design. Directed through an open and democratic process the building’s appearance is the result of this process and not the expression of the pre-existing plan or compositional vision.

In fact the current state of the Casa is merely one expression of an near infinite number of possible ‘solutions’, it is a snapshot that could be altered and extended endlessly in terms of space (extend of the structure) and variation (possible combinations within the set of elements).

Here is a link to the Open Work text LINK.

Luigi Moretti

Luigi Walter Moretti (1906-1973) enrolled at the School of Architecture in Rome, where he graduated in 1934. Moretti was a teaching assistant to Gustavo Giovannoni and Vincenzo Fasolo. He began to practice architecture while he was still a student at university. Together with Enrico Vallini he designed a number of buildings during this period.

In 1933 he was appointed director of the technical department of the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB). During these years he participated in the major architectural competitions promoted by the Fascist regime: the Palazzo del Littorio (1934 and 1937) and the E42 quarter’s Piazza Imperiale (1937). After the end of the war he resumed his practice in Milan. At the time he was involved in the design of twenty-two apartment buildings with included communal services, and built the office and residential complex in Corso Italia in Milan (1949-1956).

In 1950, Moretti founded and directed the arts and architecture magazine Spazio which ran for seven issues until 1953.

Moretti had a profound interest in mathematics, formal logic and other scientific disciplines. In 1957 he was involved in the creation of the IRMOU (National Institute for Mathematical and Operational Planning Research). He developed the theory of Parametric Architecture, formalized and first presented in 1960 on the occasion of the XII Triennale.

He worked in the USA, most notably the design for the Watergate complex in Washington and together with Pier Luigi Nervi on the Montreal Stock Exchange.

Moretti wrote extensively about his ideas for a parametric architecture.  He defined it as the study of architecture systems with the purpose of “defining the relationships between the dimensions dependent upon the various parameters.” Moretti uses the design of the stadium N, presented at the Twelfth Milan Triennial to explain how the stadium’s shape can be designed from nineteen different parameters. These for for example the viewing angles and the most economic cost for the use of the concrete structure.

Model of stadium N by Luigi Moretti. Exhibited at the 1960 Parametric Architecture exhibition at the Twelfth Milan Triennial. The stadium derives it’s forms from a parametric model consisting of nineteen different parameters.

The plans for stadium versions M and N showing the equi-desirability curves of the design.

Some pages from Spazio 7, in 1952 investigation the voids of Michelangelo’s San Giovanni dei Fiorentini or from Borromini’s interiors of San Carlino.



Link Moretti, Sturctures and Spaces, 1952

Biography Luigi Moretti

Luigi Pellegrin

Ricerche su componenti infrastrutturali lineari., 1973 Research on linear infrastructural components, FRAC

Luigi Pellegrin (1925-2001) was born in Courcelette, France. After graduating from Rome, he became one of the major advocates of Organic Architecture in Italy. He met Frank Lloyd Wright when he came to Italy in 1951. Become part of the A.P.A.O. , Association for Organic Architecture founded by Bruno Zevi in ​​Rome in 1945. Soon he develops his original experimental organic architecture in which expressionist, technological and scientific motifs are grafted. Luigi Pellegrin has always highlighted the priority of space-time not as a linguistic choice, but as a specific material of architecture. From the beginning Pellegrin conceived the form as a function of space-time; but later it gave it growth and progressive alteration, identifying the quality with the process of change. This process is legitimized when it recreates an autonomous biological composition between the human community on the planet and its instruments of life, a disalienating symbiosis that Pellegrin found in Louis Sullivan.


Villa unifamiliare via Aurelia,

Luigi Pellegrin’s Casa Bifamiliare sull’Aurelia, Rome, Italy, 1964

FRAC link

Pellegrin – Architettura organica sperimentale

Zevi’s architects. History and counter-history of Italian architecture 1944-2000

Exhibition at the MAXXI, Rome, 25 Apr — 16 Sep 2018

The exhibition Zevi’s Architects. History and Counter-history of Italian Architecture is based on the idea of uniting the figure of Bruno Zevi with a significant work designed by an architect or group of architects whom the great historian and critic supported and appreciated throughout his career. The exhibition, staged in collaboration with the Fondazione Bruno Zevi and curated by Pippo Ciorra and Jean-Louis Cohen (it will be at the MAXXI until 16 September), celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of the most eccentric and multifaceted personalities of the 20th century, a man who was able to combine work as a historian, teacher, architect and designer with the role of politician as well as radio and TV broadcaster. In the exhibition historical and biographical material is interwoven with the drawings, photos and models. The account of his life begins in the pre-war years when he attended the Liceo Classico Tasso in Rome, where he took part in the Littoriali, the artistic and cultural contests organized by the Fascist regime, and joined the leftist group headed by Ruggero Zangrandi where the difficult art of criticizing the regime apparently from within was being honed. After this came years of exile as a result of the racial laws, a university education at Harvard and his return, with the foundation of the Association for Organic Architecture which united a renewal of architecture with the needs of reconstruction.


Exhibition book:

Zevi’s Architects – History and Counter-History of Italian Architecture 1944-2000

List of architects included in the exhibition:

Luigi Agati

Franco Albini

Nello Aprile


Vittoria Cafiero

Cino Calcaprina

Leo Calino

Michele Capobianco

Iginio Cappai

Aldo Cardelli

Massio Castellazzi

Luigi Cosenza

Riccardo D’Alisi

Luigi Carlo Daneri

Giancarlo De Carlo

Mario de Renzi

Marcello D’Olivo


Carlo Fegiz

Mario Fiorentino

Wolfgang Frankl

Ignazio Gerdella

Domenci Gimigliano

Enzo Gori

Giuseppe Giorgio Gori

Federico Gordi

Marcello Guido

Franc Helg

Alberto Libera

Ameneo Luccichenti

Pietro Mainardis

Giovanni Michelucci

Carlo Mollino

Vincencio Monaco

Eugenio Montuaori

Riccardo Morandi

Luigi Moretti

Sergio Musmeci

Pier Luigi Nervi

Francesco Palpacelli

Luigi Pellegrin

Renzo Piano

Massimo Pica Ciamarra

Achille Pintonello

Gino Pollini

Ludovico Quaroni

Leonardo Ricci

Mario Ridolfi

Aldo Loris Rossi

Maurizio Sacripanti

Pietro Sartogo

Leonardo Savioli

Carlo Scarpa

Paolo Soleri

Studion Transit

Michele Valori

Vittorano Vigano

Anniblae Vitellozzi

Enzo Zacchiroli

MAXXI Rome – Link to exhibition