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which goes back to great figures like Fontana. Maderno, Borromini, but also to generations of 'umble, anonymous builders whose excellence and skill have been renowned since the Renaissance in Italy and Switzerland and .tfiose dignified and dedicated way of life the market and industry have ended.

Indeed, the exposed reinforced concrete •vail has a highly photogenic sculptural surface texture as a result of the intricacy of the construction technique. It allows for deep horizontal stripes of shadow alternating with thin, flat, lighted surfaces immaculately executed through the use of form-work. The plastic quality of the technique is made to emerge by exposing the materials of the object and the means of its production. Concrete is left uncovered and the fact that it has been cast is 'oregrounded by giving to the wood forms an expressive profile and by letting the joints between form-work be visible. Certainly, neo-brutalism did precisely that, and 'brutally', but the Bellinzona Club does it with extreme refinement.

From the purely formal point of view, this technique of casting has a wonderful optical effect of horizontality which helps to underline the distinct profile of the mountainscape in the background. By contrast to it the same technique is also used in the early Botta and Snozzi work (pp. 64-67, 80-81), in which the use of pure prismatic volumes serves to foreground the specific irregular forms of the natural landscape as well as their irregularity.

It is remarkable how the cult of what the late Renaissance called agutezzai purposeful neglect) has managed to survive in the heart of one of the most prosperous and technology-

dominated societies in the world, where exposed concrete is treated as if it were made out of precious material. One would search in vain here for a nostalgic return to the past. In fact. Galfetti is polemically opposed to such easy formulas. His architecture may come from a strong attachment to memory, but it is also the product of a search for inventive ways of renewing it and adapting to the new realities of an increasingly international world. This is what makes it not just regionalist, but critical regionalist. It is intriguing also how in a reversal of roles, the refined and precious, as well as the regional and crafted, have increasingly become, in the midst of the devaluation of culture and community, the aesthetics of radicalism and an expression of what the American critic Lionel Trilling called 'adversary culture".

Ricardo Boflll Taller de Arquitectura LES COLONNES DE SAINT CHRISTOPHE

(Cergy-Pontoise, Paris, France) 1981-86

Classical and industrial, proletarian and aristocratic, reminiscent of Louis XIV facades, but inspired by the garden city ideal; serving equally well absolutist and socialist politicians, claiming monumentality and fulfilling to the last detail the pedestrian requirements of planning authorities, this housing project is one of the most coherent examples in the constellation of neo-monumental complexes by Ricardo Boflll. The architect of 'subsidized Doric', he has been likened in the same breath to Michelangelo, Gaudi, Cecil B. de Mille and Albert Speer. While such characterizations of Bofill express the polymorphous nature of his oeuvre, they are also a measure of the slackness of the media of our time.

Les Colonnes dominates the valley of the River Oise in the new town of Cergy-Pontoise, on the plateau of Le Puiseau. It occupies the highest point, where the principal axis of the new neighbourhood intersects a linear layout of parks, hanging gardens and terraces over the river. It is composed of two distinctly morphological parts: a six-storeyed crescent to the south, oriented towards the valley; and two symmetrical, square plazas with four storeys to the north, connected by a cross-shaped plaza and cross-axis.

The composition, which is structured by a complex geometric system based on the square, draws upon the precedents of the classical English architecture of squares and gardens, such as the Circus and Royal Crescent by the John Woods in Bath. It departs, however, from a classical scheme in the way in which it relates and articulates buildings and regulates controlled interior spaces.

The complex, which is both eclectic and picturesque in its planning, is not closed to the surrounding landscape. At the edge of the plateau, above the valley, the facade of the crescent is, according to Bofill, 'treated like a grand city hall, punctuated by solid towers between which are placed apartment blocks, their French windows overlooking the natural theatre, like so many historic walls that have been progressively domesticated and transformed (for example Urbino, or the cities so characteristic of the Yemen).' The facade is intended to serve as the termination of the perspective created by the axis of the gardens and terraces rising from the river.

(Below, centre and bottom) Site plan and perspective view

(Below) Plan of a typical floor

(Below, centre and bottom) Site plan and perspective view

(Below) Plan of a typical floor

(Below, centre) Section (Bottom) Exterior view itfMV

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