Monday, March 5, 2007

"The Washing Machine" Housing Project, Genoa, Italy

Over the past fifty years in Genoa, Italy, multiple experimental modernist housing projects have developed in response to the growing number of subsidized households. Unfortunately, the majority of these developments have proven unsuccessful in creating a quality dwelling for the elderly and low income residents. One of these failing projects is “la Lavatrice” or "The Washing Machine”. Many aspects of this apartment complex add to the ineffectiveness of this modern housing solution. First, the entire community is situated at a distance so far from the city center that the complex becomes an isolated entity. With little connection to other citizens and economic classes, the apartments become less desirable to inhabit. Second, the placement of the two main structures creates a narrow alleyway. Because of this limited space, an opportunity to appreciate the facades of the building is nonexistent. Lastly, the view of the city from each apartment unit is obstructed by the addition of large partitions on the balconies. Even though these partitions contain a circular void, which is the element that aids in the labeling of the apartments as a “washing machine”, the bulkiness of the barrier blocks the view of the city. Additionally, a large amount of wasted space develops on the balcony fa├žade due to the lack of extruded floor slabs for additional outdoor living space. Despite all the shortcomings of this modernist housing solution, everyone can learn from the mistakes in the project and begin to understand the disaster in segregating all economic classes to a specific region.

-Patrick Lee

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