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Design for the Faculty of Nuclear Physics

1953 San Paolo (Brasil)

The stimulating country of Brazil, which he visited in 1952, gave Ponti the opportunity to produce two projects that were never carried out but that were farsighted in their approach: the project for the Predio Italia (Italo-Brazilian Centre) and the project for the Faculty of Nuclear Physics at Sao Paulo -a long horizontal building that Ponti liked to point to as the forerunner of the finite form, the closed form of the Pirelli building. The long front bends slightly in the middle, and the rear wall turns forward at both ends, thus closing the form. The walls have the appearance of hanging screens (another Pontian principle): the front thin perforated surface, bent at the top to form an overhang, and bent at the bottom to give greater depth to the lecture rooms on the ground floor does not touch the ground; front and sides are detached at the corner they are two sheets, and their slenderness is visible; the roof overhangs at the back. Moreover another principle the project separates into distinct, immediately recognizable volumes, the different elements of which the building is composed: the auditorium, a volume that is out of' scale with respect to the lecture rooms, is pulled out and set apart to form a block. Lastly, an invention: the dedicatory wall, along the edge of the plot. It is a long, freestanding screen on which to assemble all the images of art that dedicate this building to Italy. (This expression of dedication is the same as can be seen in the highly ornate facades of certain palaces and churches, true architectural proclamations, detached from the rest of the building.)