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The architect’s houses

The architect’s houses


Two of Raimondo D’Aronco’s first works when returning to his homeland in 1909 after his long and extraordinary stay in Turkey are the houses for his brother Quinto in Tarcento (1909) and Udine (1910-1911). This last building is of considerable importance, since together with the villas that are still preserved – D’Aronco’s house in Turin (1903), Djemil Bey’s house in Kireçbürnü (1903) and the former summer residence of the Italian Embassy in Tarabya on the Bosporus (1905-1906) - it represents a valuable example of D'Aronco’s contribution to the main theme of 20th century architecture, the single-family house, which became a field of experimentation for the search for new shapes. D’Aronco mainly challenged himself with the advanced architecture of Central Europe, but he was also familiar with English and American architecture, that of cottages and the Shingle Style, as well as relying on the knowledge of Ottoman architecture, gained by designing villas for cultured and cosmopolitan clients. According to D’Aronco, it is the composition of the plan to be the central theme of architecture, which in his view originates from within and then projects outwards.

As the architect states in a letter to engineer Enrico Bonelli, his appreciation for the arrangement of spaces in the Turkish house originated from the practicality and functionality he found in his own home in Arnavutköy, in particular what he calls “a vast hall”, a rather large room around which life in the house takes place. The room described is the sofa-divanhane, or the spatial and distributive node of the Ottoman house, and in the correspondence with Bonelli the comparison serves to justify a change to the plan of his own house in Turin. The most significant experiences take shape around the spatial theme of the hall, starting with the prolific English and American context that would later spread to Europe.

The application for the construction of the house in Viale Duodo is dated 1912, but the first project dates back to 1910 and of all the houses built in Italy, this is the one that is most reminiscent of the layout of the villas for Turkish clients. Although using elements learnt during his stay in Istanbul, the Udine house belongs to the design phase with an Italian imprint, which the architect was developing in the contemporary design of the town hall. On the same wavelength is the Casa di Quinto in Tarcento (1909-1910), with its oriental turret with the bulbous dome in which the spiral staircase acts as a vertical distribution axis, flanking the main staircase. The plans for Villino Zanuttini (Via Cairoli and Via D’Azeglio in Udine) are dated 1923, but it was not realised according to D’Aronco’s plans.

In 1924, the architect designed for Luigi Tamburlini the small villa that was to be built in Viale Trieste and demolished after a disastrous bombing in 1944. The project reveals D’Aronco as a garden architect and the tables of decorative details document the extraordinary care for decorative elements, an indispensable architectural element.

In his reinterpretation of Renaissance in a modern key, favouring the eccentric elements of Mannerism, D’Aronco designed the reform of Villa Biasutti in Villafredda di Tarcento (around 1924), inserting powerful rusticated pilasters on the corners of the building and to seal the central forepart, while for the house in Udine, he designed an annex on the side facing the new Viale della Vittoria (1924).