Roberta Morelli Maître de conférences à l'Ensa Paris-Belleville
“Your life changes and the cause is architecture.” That’s how Italo Calvino spoke about his stay in the university college that his friend Giancarlo De Carlo had built in Urbino in 1965. A host to Team X meeting in the same period, the place would later become twenty years later an essential component of the University’s expansion project in the city that Aldo Van Eyck recognized as “the most humanistic and homogeneous” of all Italian cities.
Surrounding an ancient monastery, on a hill on the edge of the city center, but invisible from it, the five colleges – whose names were chosen by the masons who built them between 1962 and 1983 – constitute a multipolar model of collective services and residences leaning against the natural slope of the land and connected by a ramification of paths, terraces and ramps recalling the fabric of the historical center.
Like the buildings rehabilitated to house the university faculties in the city center, the colleges embody the ideal, dear to De Carlo, of a school open to social life and scattered throughout the urban space. Integrating unity and diversity, collective and individual, nature and history, this complex creates an indissoluble relationship between architecture, city and territory, following the example of Francesco di Giorgio Martini’s work in the same city in the 15th century.
At a time of metropolization and international competitiveness of educational models, rediscovering the value and intimate history of this exceptional place where I was born but did not grow up, allows me – thanks to architecture, as Calvino used to say – to see the world differently and to question the logics that dominate the relationship between space and society.
The complete photographic report of Luc Boegly is visible in the issue 450 of L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui: "Schools".