Projects in the City

Projects I, II, III, IV (fols. 44v-45r)

These projects correspond to the projects I, II, and III in the countryside.

The ‘cellular projects’ for buildings belonging to the humble proletariat here reach their fullest development in that they (unlike their country counterparts) are linked to the urban territory, almost always defined by the city walls. I refer to what I said in the introduction to this chapter, once again repeating the precise remark of Du Colombier and D’Espezel concerning the ‘workers’ city’. This is indeed the first, and for a long time the only, architectural treatise to deal with the historical movement from an agro/artisanal economy to embryonic industrial organisation in the city, regardless of the fact that Serlio still refers to ‘poor craftsmen’. This movement (when comparing country and city architecture) explains the difference between the cellular growth of the single agricultural building, tied for its expansion to the economic success of the single ‘household’, without any site limit, and the progression of the cellular city dwellings (first for two families and later for four) compressed within the tyrannical limits of the urban area. A consequence of this restriction and growth is the sharing of ‘services’, such as wells, chimneys and ‘privies’. These ‘services’ in fact become fundamental points of reference in the process of cellular re-iteration. Thus in Project II Serlio explicitly refers to serial repetition of dwellings for two families but ties these dwellings to the presence of common wells. Similarly in the plan for III we see eight ‘privies’ indicated, four


(two plus two) for the four-family dwelling and four evidently for the identical buildings adjoining the two long sides.

The type chosen by Serlio (even in its absolutely elementary form of one storey) has more of the French than the Italian about it, notable from the steep roof with dormers and above all from the placing of the outhouses-courtyard-gardens at the very end of the site, a positioning furthermore linked to the absolute symmetry of the two initial household dwellings with respect to the street.



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