The Casa Albergo is a hotel building located in via Duca d’Aosta in the Città Giardino, in the municipality of Viareggio.
Built in 1959 by the Emilian road construction company (Seces Srl) of La Spezia, this building with small suites is “a typologically new building for Versilia: a holiday home, i.e. a type of building with small apartments, which is halfway between the house-hotel and the house of residence. The basic idea of the designers was to be able to create a house-hotel, but it has been shown that the time is not yet ripe for an organism of this kind” The renewal effort of the designers is was twofold: on the one hand, the choice of a modern architectural language that goes beyond the usual play of balconies and the exhausting movement of volumes, which seems to be the only constructive language in Viareggio after the Art Nouveau season, and, on the other, the desire for typological renewal with a building that was supposed to pave the way for the construction of other hotel-houses.
The volume contained in the “wrapping” of the brick walls and in the “walls” of the sliding shutters is even more strongly demonstrated by the fact that it “rests” on a structure of pillars on the ground floor which constitute a completely open area intended for resting car. In 1974 this area was closed off with a continuous glass wall to be used for commercial activities.
In his 1961 note, which appeared in the journal “L’architettura – cronache e storia”, Koenig again observes how in this case we are witnessing “the interweaving of a local component, let’s say environmental, and a second component, critical and anti-provincial, which, however, also has roots in the high and careful culture of this region. And we see, in these works, the parallel evolution of these two factors, the traditional and the advanced, in the search for results that are concretely suitable for the environment, but ‘ promoters’ with respect to it. Herein lies the ‘theoretical’ validity of these achievements”.
The work has been cataloged among those of “excellence” in the selection of architectures of historical and artistic interest produced in Tuscany since 1945, resulting innovative for the advanced typology research and for the choice of formal language.
The building transversally occupies the lot located between the current viale Belluomini and viale Buonarroti, in the area that was involved in the “Città Giardino” project at the end of the 1950s.
Typologically it is a balcony building of multiple holiday apartments; not really a house-hotel, as it is often referred to, rather a successful union between a social housing building with minimal accommodation and a hotel organized by suite, therefore of an exclusive nature. The planimetric development, the outline of which is continuously broken up by the slightly angled perimeter walls, actually conceals a very regular distribution of the rooms with the rectilinear balcony on which all the apartments abut directly. The articulation of solids and voids, of closed surfaces compared to open ones, is concealed through the formal solution of wrapping the whole building with exposed masonry in low Lucca brick and above all thanks to the unorthodox use of shutters, all furling type appearance, but in reality with “eyelid” operation in Douglass slats, a detail that clearly refers to the planking of ships. From the pages of “Architecture – chronicles and history” it is once again observed how “that unity of the containment surfaces, that order desired by the designers, would have been disturbed by the use of normal rollers, given that each of them can be raised in differently. The regularity of the elevations, played entirely on these elements, would have gone to pieces”.
These special “eyelid” shutters, designed by the architects Domenico Cardini, Ilo Dati and Franco Mazzucchi (who also applied them for the hotel in Tonfano) are divided into four elements but only the two central ones can slide allowing a maximum opening of about 1.30 meters or two openings of about 30 cm. each one, always and in any case maintaining a horizontal symmetry. “As usual, the result is aesthetic, but the starting point is functional: we thought of this type of shutter because it allows a small opening, the necessary opening for the summer months, through which you can see without being seen. Also the “Venetian blind” solves the problem, but only partially, because seeing between slats is certainly not extremely pleasant; while the impression of a clear cut of light, variable at will, at eye level, given by this type of shutter, it is singularly pleasant”.
The designers were therefore able to conceal the load-bearing structure in reinforced concrete skeleton, while the string course, slender and continuous, is nothing more than the curb of the floor. But as we approach the building, the trees and hedges no longer hide the deliberately visible beams and pillars. The corner pillar displays a plastic connotation thanks to a section of increasing size in the shape of a Greek cross whose sides correspond to the dovetail joints of the beams.
On the terraced roof, a series of six rounded bodies emerge which act as “end of scale” but which denote an unexpected plastic element which effectively connects and ends the figurative theme of the superimposed balconies. Even from these details it emerges that the road taken by the authors of the project is the same indicated by Giovanni Michelucci in many works for collective housing.