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The discovery of the Site Bernard Rudofsky. Mediterranean Architecture

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CARRÉ BLANC CARRÉ NOIR
Forme e teorie dell’architettura

Direttore
Maria Grazia Eccheli (Università di Firenze)

Comitato scientifico
Fabrizio Arrigoni (Università di Firenze)
Maria Teresa Bartoli (Università di Firenze)
Emanuele Lago (Università di Firenze)
Hilde Léon (Leibniz Universität Hannover)
Eleonora Mantese (Università Iuav di Venezia)
Alessandra Ponte (École d’Architecture de l’Université de Montréal)
HOUSE AND SITE
RUDOFSKY LEWERENTZ ZANUSO SERT RAINER

Edited by
Eleonora Mantese

Contributors by
Andrea Calgarotto Cristiana Eusepi
Gundula Rakowitz Ugo Rossi Carlotta Torricelli
Firenze University Press
2014 With a foreword by Francesco Cellini
House and Site : Rudofsky, Lewerentz, Zanuso, Sert, Rainer / a cura di
Eleonora Mantese. – Firenze : Firenze University Press, 2014.
(Studi e saggi ; 129)

http://digital.casalini.it/9788866555810

ISBN 978-88-6655-579-7 (print)


ISBN 978-88-6655-581-0 (online)

Editorial coordination and layout by | Coordinamento editoriale e impaginazione di


Andrea Calgarotto

Translations by | Traduzioni di
Fiammetta Calzavara

On the cover | In copertina


B. Rudofsky, from the series Die Insel der Verrückten (The Isle of Crazy People), ca. 1933, The Bernard Rudofsky Estate,
Vienna © Ingrid Kummer.

Certificazione scientifica delle Opere


Tutti i volumi pubblicati sono soggetti ad un processo di referaggio esterno di cui sono responsabili il Consiglio editoriale della FUP
e i Consigli scientifici delle singole collane. Le opere pubblicate nel catalogo della FUP sono valutate e approvate dal Consiglio
editoriale della casa editrice. Per una descrizione più analitica del processo di referaggio si rimanda ai documenti ufficiali pubblicati
sul catalogo on-line della casa editrice (www.fupress.com).
Consiglio editoriale Firenze University Press
G. Nigro (Coordinatore), M.T. Bartoli, M. Boddi, R. Casalbuoni, C. Ciappei, R. Del Punta, A. Dolfi, V. Fargion, S. Ferrone, M. Garzaniti,
P. Guarnieri, A. Mariani, M. Marini, A. Novelli, M. Verga, A. Zorzi.

© 2014 Firenze University Press


Università degli Studi di Firenze
Firenze University Press
Borgo Albizi, 28, 50122 Firenze, Italy
www.fupress.com/
Printed in Italy
INDEX

Francesco Cellini
Foreword

Eleonora Mantese
The Place of the House

Ugo Rossi
The Discovery of the Site
Bernard Rudofsky. Mediterranean Architectures

Carlotta Torricelli
Site is Elsewhere
Sigurd Lewerentz. Villa Edstrand in Falsterbo

Andrea Calgarotto
The Sky in the Room
Marco Zanuso. Holiday Houses

Cristiana Eusepi
The Introverted Space
José Luis Sert. Patio Houses

Gundula Rakowitz
Anonymous Composing
Roland Rainer. House at the Stone Quarry

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THE DISCOVERY OF THE SITE
BERNARD RUDOFSKY. MEDITERRANEAN ARCHITECTURES

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LA SCOPERTA DEL LUOGO
BERNARD RUDOFSKY. ARCHITETTURE MEDITERRANEE
Ugo Rossi

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THE NEED FOR SITE

Bernard Rudofsky, since the Technische Hochschule years in Vienna, was conscious of the
importance, within an architect’s training, of the knowledge and the experiences resulting from
study tours. The travel to modernity of 1923, that brought him to visit the Bauhaus exposition
in Weimar came as a surprise to him:
One summer, curiosity led me to Weimar where the first Bauhaus exhibition had just opened. This was my first pre-
monition of the ill wind that was to blow over the field of architecture. Weimar, and later Dessau, I found, had all the
charm of a reformatory for juveniles1.
To that study trip, other trips will follow, not any more based on researching models within
the work of modern architects, but rather aimed at finding the lesson of architecture in the
anonymous constructions of the past.
Rudofsky travels through Bulgaria, along the Danube, towards Istanbul and in 1925 towards
Asia Minor. In 1926 he travels to Switzerland, France, Italy to research the archeological ex-
cavations of Pompeii, and again in Italy in 1927, in 1929 in Bulgaria and Turkey, and finally in
Santorini, Greece.
After having completed his education, and after the formative trips, in 1932 Bernard Rudofsky
decides to move to the island of Capri, which he considered ideal to experiment his own per-
sonal ideas upon architecture. He is driven to the island by memories as well as by tales of a
mythic see of an island that is also a destination able to reveal the charm of its profiles. This
has been described by Goethe in its Travel to Italy. Also the white houses having clear vol-
umes, studied by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann, attracted
him. Obrich writes on Capri «here architecture did not managed to accomplish primary ne-
cessities. Here we can find the very first traces of oriental architecture»2, while Hoffmann talks
about «blinding white walls, with small and short windows, to protect from excessive light»3.

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The light, the sun, the life in the island as well as architecture are factors that attracted Bernard
Rudofsky in a place where to experiment and practice the way of life suggested by Lebensre-
form and by Berta Doctor, a musician he met in Ischia and that would have later become her
wife. Lebensreform is a movement he discovered during his internship in Berlin, in the study
of Otto Rudolf Salvisberg between 1928 and 1930. Capri was also the place where to build
the promise of a happy society that the artist-poet-prophet Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach tried to
realize with the naturist community Menschheit, inspiring model for the colony of Monte Verità
in Arona. The community, founded by Diefenbach in Vienna in 1882, failed several times. The
poet migrated first to Monaco, then to Egypt and lastly to Capri, where he settled in 1899.
Capri had to became, for Diefenbach, the land of sun where to announce men the path to
salvation4.
Bernard and Berta, following the spirit of these communities, lived a life in Capri in harmony
with nature looking for pleasure for both body and mind.
The time spent by Bernard Rudofsky in Capri is characterized by the will to live frivolously, this
attitude will facilitate important acquaintances5, as that with Luigi Cosenza, who was intro-
duced by Adriano Galli, professor at the faculty of engineering in Naples6. Within this occasion
Cosenza invites Rudofsky to participate to the project for the contest of Palazzo del Littorio in
Rome. Rudofsky works during the day in Naples in the Cosenza’s studio in Chiaia road and
the evening he goes back to the Procida Island
On board of a venerable small steamship that venture the crossing only with good weather [...]7 on a small island
about an hour and a half by boat from Naples. There was no hotel in the accepted sense and I had rented two rooms
giving on a terrace in a stately old house that served intermittently as an inn for ambulant priests and salesmen8.
About the island he writes:
Tourists, cruisers, snobbish, will do good to forget the name; but artists will find new sensations, architects will find
revelations, gourmets some first fruits, lovers a refuge. The one who is a little of everything mentioned, will find in
Procida the site marked by his fate9.

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In Procida Bernard Rudofsky casually finds the site of his destiny. Here in 1935, Berta and
Bernard start the procedures to buy a piece of land where to build a house, that will be their
intellectual testament as well as «starting point for his theoretical thought. In the project for a
house in Procida, are listed the contents as well the intellectual apparatus that characterizes
the work of Bernard Rudofsky in its wholeness»10.
The house that Attilio Podestà, in Casabella11, defines freed form imprecise tendencies, con-
sists of a square of 16 meters length, a internal court of 8 meters per side, with a covered
surface of 192 squared meters. The site is upon a high ground of the island, it masters the
maritime landscape within a south-east direction. The house is surrounded by a perimeter
wall. At the center of the patio, site of origin, it shapes the edifice. A side of the edifice, des-
tined to the living room, covered but opened on both sides so as to connect the patio with the
surrounding garden. The room on the garden reinterprets the Gartenzimmer of Salvisberg’s
house in Zurich of 1930, and of the loggia of the Japanese house where «the outdoor platform
reaches for the moon, anchor of the universe […]: engawa, the semicovered platform which,
half indoors, half outdoors, formed the inhabitants treasured link with nature[…]»12.
A small edifice towards the southern side, almost on the cliff, is destined to the Sommer Triclin-
ium, that is a edifice similar to the Tea Pavilion of the garden for the house Kahane in Vienna by
Josef Frank in 1930. But what makes this house different from others is the relationship that
Rudofsky dictates between the rooms and the way of life, declaring the importance of the latter.
As Attilio Podestà writes:
[...] The architect presumes, in order for the house to be inhabited, a different way of life with respect to ours, the
revision upon an esthetic level, of our costumes, within our society. He presumes the possibility that one could feel
again “the happiness of feeling ones feet tickled by sand, by well shaved grass, by a smoothed marble”. – And, as for
the ambient unity of his house, the architect would like to change people’s way of dressing [...]13.
Over the house in Procida that necessity is expressed by the living room: a room on the open
air, a court with stone and grass floor, where a curtain allows the staying during warm days,

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and a chimney allows the staying during the cold season. The Loggia, with the triclinium or
deck-chairs, with a low table, is the place where to eat food previously cooked in the near
electric kitchen, so as to avoid working while sitting at the table and savoring dishes without
using iron cutlery14. The bedroom is paved with mattresses, as it happens for Japanese hous-
es. A curtain helps against flights. The music room or living room for winter season, contains
elements dedicated to the well being of the senses: a fireplace, a bench where to seat, a
piano.
During meals, the lying down position to eat recalls that of ancient Rome as well as that of ori-
ental communities, where the ritual of sitting down around meals is collective15. The bathroom
is dedicated to the cure of the body, the sanitation facilities are arranged in another room,
intimate and personal. The bathroom could also be, as it was in ancient times and in the East,
a moment of collective celebration.
The project, focusing upon the relationship between ways of life and architecture involves
individual and collective rituals, the senses and the act of dressing. To the aseptic solutions of
Spartan functionalism and of the modern, cleaned from the fetish of the ornament, Rudofsky
opposes a sybaritic modernity, conscious of the fact that the modern man is not that different
from the primitive or of Rousseau’s savage, his interest for the Lebensreform aims at solutions
introducing relationships of freedom and ways of life voted to the achievement of well being
and sensorial pleasure. Rudofsky is fascinated by Zurück zur Natur, the return to nature, to
naturgemäße Lebensweise, that professed vegetarianism, natural cures, sport on the open
air, nudism, and above all, the sensual potential of clothes.
That of Rudofsky for the Mediterranean sea is a truth love declaration for the relationships
among ways of life and site, allowed by the Mediterranean climate and landscape.
The Mediterranean sea of Rudofsky is not a myth, a mental space, but rather a real site. His
interest is always influenced by the relationship site – ways of life – architecture. The archi-
tectural suggestions are not questions of stylistic affirmation, of research of popular origins,

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vernacular of modern architecture or the research of the Mediterranean architecture as off-
spring of the rationalistic one. These are a reflection upon the Mediterranean influxes on life in
relation with the site:
When, after the war, with the first attempts to find a new architecture, the interest for the primitives started a long
debate over the origins and over the achievements of this modern architecture, no importance has been given to the
episode related to the discoveries in Santorini. During debates over the architectural concept, the primitive houses of
some regions of the Mediterranean sea did occupy a first place, as for the Baleari islands, that of the Naples gulf and
so on, this is the reason why some argued that Mediterranean architecture is the precursor of modern architecture,
or, even, of a modern architecture in terms of Mediterranean architecture. Books and magazines gave us delicious
images of those ingenuous constructions16.
Rudofsky’s idea coincides with a architectural proposal where the solutions become real only
within an ambient able to transmit a ‘desired’ way of life. The architectural ideal researched by
Rudofsky is well represented in a series of drawings of the second half of the Thirties, in par-
ticular a drawing which comes with the editorial of Domus17 in 1937, and that will be later used
as cover of Interiors18. This drawing, emblematically shows how the essence of the house is,
for Rudofsky, in a room on the open air. For Rudofsky the idea of the ‘house’ coincides with
the word ‘Paradise’, that comes from Persian and means garden of pleasure surrounded by
walls19. The patio, or garden closed by walls, is the physic and symbolic site where the sa-
credness of the private sphere is centered. An artificial site, of neat contours, detached from
the external world, furnished with a few useful elements and open to the sky, a place built for
pleasure.
Rudofsky was attracted to Santorini by the extraordinary happening of a volcano eruption:
«fantastic relationships and images of an island attracted my interest from the near Smirne»20.
In the island, as an explorer, he ‘discovered’ a way of constructing that could be explained
only as deriving from the constructive characteristics of the island itself. The landscape of
Santorini influenced the inhabitants as regards the development of this specific architecture

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and the connection between the volcano eruptions of the island and its houses is very clear.
The ‘vaults’ of the houses and all the architecture in Santorini can be constructed thanks to
the tender volcanic stone.
The analysis of the houses with barrel vault of the island is the main theme of the Ph.D. theses
that Rudofsky writes in the Technische Hochschule of Vienna supervised by Franz Krauß and
Siegfried Theiß from 1928 to 1931. In contrast with what suggests the title, Eine primitive Be-
tonbauweise auf den südlichen Kykladen, nebst dem Versuche einer Datierung derselben21,
the architectural aspect is present only in two chapters. The rest of the research is centered
on geological problems and more generally on the history of the island. It collects intelligent
observations upon the ways of life of the inhabitants of the island as well as upon their diet
routine. It is described their legendary enthusiasm for gibe22. Rudofsky, within his theses, talks
only partially about the constructive technique of the houses. He rather focuses upon the rela-
tionship between landscape and habitation and upon the social habits produced by the place.
Eine primitive Betonbauweise is the starting point for a itinerary that researches the themes of
the origin of architecture23. As for Rudofsky, the origins do not correspond to a primordial ar-
chitectural model, they are not generated by the essential repair of Vitruvio or by the primitive
cabin of Marc Antoine Laugier, nor by the projects suggested by the Technische Hochschule.
In Santorini Rudofsky discovers that the origins have their roots in the landscape, they are
generated by the landscape. The experience of the architectures in the place is fundamental
for Rudofsky, he in fact writes:
[...] Staying for an entire season in the Santorini Island, I had enough time to contemplate its houses, alive documents
of the most ancient houses in our planet. The stylistic resembling with some of the buildings on the Amalfi coast
was perfect [...]the walls of these prehistoric constructions were built by the same irregular blocks, that are in use
still today. Although the roofs collapsed under the weight of the pumice-stone, it is till recognizable that each house
had its own vault [...] It is so very marvelous the resemblance between prehistoric ruins and the houses of today, that
archeologists did not believe to their eyes24.

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68

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69

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70

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p. 66: Bernard Rudofsky, from the series Die Insel der Verrückten (The Isle of Crazy People), ca. 1933.
p. 67: Bernard Rudofsky, from the series Die insel der Verrückten (The Isle of Crazy People), ca. 1933; Bernard
Rudofsky, Spagettiesser (Spaghetti Eaters), from 4 Zeichnungen zum Aufsatz die Einkleidung, ca. 1933; Bernard Ru-
dofsky, Pizzaiolo – antico caprese (Old Fashioned Caprese – Pizza Street Vendor), from 4 Zeichnungen zum Aufsatz
die Einkleidung, ca. 1933; Bernard Rudofsky, foreign Capri residents buying roasted chestnuts from a street vendor,
ca. 1933; Bernard Rudofsky, Gehüllt in Lana di Capri (Wrapped in Wool of Capri) from 5 Zeichnungen zum Ausfatz
Leichte Winke für Kreuzfahrer (five drawings for the essay Instruction for Crusaders), ca. 1933.
p. 68: Bernard Rudofsky, Pianta di orientamento per Procida («Domus», n. 123, march 1938, p. 5).
p. 69: Bernard Rudofsky, Casa per Procida («Domus», n.123, march 1938, p. 8a).
p. 70: Bernard Rudofsky, Casa per Procida. Pianta della casa («Domus», 123, march 1938, pp. 10, 11).
p. 71: Bernard Rudofsky, Casa per Procida. La Loggia (zona pranzo) («Domus», 123, march 1938, p. 12).
p. 73: Bernard Rudofsky, Oia, Santorini Island, ca. 1929.
pp. 74-75: Bernard Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola («Domus», 123, march 1938, pp. 2, 3).

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75

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THE BUILDING OF THE SITE
VILLA CAMPANELLA IN POSITANO

Real farce of an ideal project.25


A study in Naples. Photographs, tents, models of architectures never realized, piles of drawings and hopes. On the
table a project for A house in Positano.
The client: The bedroom on the upper floor as well as the solarium are fine. But what I do not understand is the idea
of planting upstairs those cubes so hard and woody: this will to be original by any means: a house without doors and
almost without walls, a kitchen reduced to counter, a iron stairs and these two trees in the room that come out from
the attic. How can one live in this house?.
Luigi Cosenza and Bernard Rudofsky work together to a project of a villa in Positano dedicat-
ed to an ‘ideal client’26. Of difficult realization, because of the extreme essence of the proposal,
in contrast with the needs of the buyer, to this house on a rock is perfectly suited the Corbu-
serian definition of architectural flowering germinated on the rock27. Cosenza and Rudofsky
insist upon the anecdote that talks the language of Vitruvio:
Aristippo [...] shipwrecked in the island of Rodi, noticed some geometrical figures over the sand and, as they say, he
turned to his companions and exclaimed: ‘we have good hopes! I see traces of human presence’. And immediately
went towards the city [...]28.
The right angle proves the difference between architecture and nature. Cosenza and Rudofsky
affirm: «we fear the right angle. It is one of the few things that distinguishes men from beasts»29.
Architecture as a man’s oeuvre is characterized by abstraction. The geometry, the pure vol-
umes, the wall, are all expression of this abstraction.
The “robinsonian” house almost suggests the “petrification of a nomadic settlement”, a naturist interpretation or a
parody of Existenzminimum. The imaginary host of the house in Positano, that Ponti described as ‘good rower, expe-
rienced fisherman, able to plunge nicely and invulnerable to rheumatisms’, will be “healthy in body and soul, with no

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prejudices and of good appetite” [...]30. A tent made in stone and masonry, or better a camp where different functions
find their own site within elementary volumes that utilize nature as building material: the magnolia and the fig that
spring out from the pavement of the living room, the lava side of the Vesuvio the strong parallelepiped in calcareous
stone to artificially continue the rock31.
The radical minimalism brings to the extreme consequences the hygienist vocation of ration-
alism, substituting «to mechanical comforts of modernity the return to “primordial values of a
modernity outside time”»32. The house of the modern man dodges whatsoever urban comfort.
It is an idea of modernity that coincides with the fulfillment of the easiest among necessities,
of primordial needs.
This house facing the Gauls’ Island, landing place for Ulysses, is metaphor for the creation of
the modern man as understood by Rudofsky and Cosenza. A man immersed in a friendly na-
ture, who is able to dominate the landscape, who is dressed simply, bare feet, with the ability
to appreciate the floor, «a modernity that coincides with the meaning of origins and with the
fulfillment of essential necessities»33.
The themes previously taken into account as regards the house in Procida are reworked with-
in the project of this house: the fusion between internal and external in a continuous space di-
rectly connected with nature. Once more the main aim is that of realizing a way of life linked to
the landscape. The patio, with the grass pavement of the house in Procida, becomes a stone
pavement with a magnolia and a fig that burst through the roofing. The house itself coincides
with the pavement, and it is, for the most part, a house on the open air. The only closed am-
bient are the bedroom on the upper floor and the bathroom on the ground floor. The kitchen
is a bare plane in front of the fireplace. The place where to shower is a niche on the open air,
or, as suggested by the images published in Domus, the place is the sea. Zurück zur Natur.

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p. 81: Bernard Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola («Domus», n.123, march 1938, p. 3).
p. 82: Bernard Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola («Domus», n.123, march 1938, p. 2).
p. 83: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, photomontage of the ‘rock’ with the Campanella House project in
Positano.
p. 84: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Campanella House in Positano, longitudinal section and ground floor
plan, 1936.
p. 85: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Campanella House in Positano, view from the main entrance and first
floor plan, 1936.

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83

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84

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85

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CASA ORO IN POSILLIPO34

Starting from the study of the houses in Santorini and Procida in the Ph.D. thesis, the defi-
nition of the architectural language of Rudofsky and Cosenza is enriched by the slow sedi-
mentation of ‘traditional’ architecture. The morphological elements referring to the project are
recognizable. The «deep connection between the two insular houses, in particular those of
the fishermen’s village of the Corricella, with the casa Oro in Naples, is confirmed by several
aspects of the construction»35.
Both structure and morphology of the Corricella’s houses are a reference point for casa Oro
because:
They raise from the ground in a very similar site, for geometric and orographic conformation, materiality, exposition
and relationship with the sea, to that of the house in Naples [...], terrace houses. The house develops vertically. As
the construction develops upwards, rooms tend to backward so as to remain adherent to the natural wall and as a
consequence small terraces take shape [...]. The lower compartment, are, sometimes almost fully dug out from tuff36.
The Casa framed by a tuff bank facing the Magellina sea, is the paradigm of modern Neapol-
itan habitation37. Casa Oro, of typically local inspiration38 derives from the study of the culture
of inhabiting and from the quality of the spaces in a traditional house, as Cosenza tells:
together with Rudofsky we decided to migrate over the island of Procida [...] The choice of the site was linked to the
wish of isolating ourselves from the urban decay as well as further researching the creative process of the local master
builders, also by comparing it to further experiences made by Rudofsky in Santorini and Ibiza. While interpreting ways
of life that are more open and more rational, we had to find a language apt to translate and express these ways of life
into modern terms and respecting the most exigent functionalities39.
The reading of casa Oro in analogy with the houses of Corricella, and with the morphological
system of the traditional house in Procida, in Santorini or in Ibiza, partially explains the planning
choices and the volumetric disposition of the house. Within the house, Jean-Louis Cohen

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identifies the condensing of three myths of modernity, the Mediterranean one, the transatlan-
tic one and that of a open plan40.
The house morphologically develops following a logic that assigns, combining them, diverse
recognizable units of composition41. The three stairs, positioned to the margins of the big
rooms, work as elements that «scan the planimetric sequence of the rooms and allow, verti-
cally, the independent entrance to autonomous houses»42. The distribution is conformed so
that the corridor or the access rooms have no waste of space, «not a centimeter of surface
is lost for this use»43. The rooms as well as the spaces of distributions, together contribute to
the composition. They have a spatial nature, a figurative autonomy, they are not conceived as
mere transit sites, the sequence of the rooms of the house seems loaned by the promenade
architecturale44, thus locating the spatial nature defined, with the narrative element of distri-
bution. Aside for Le Corbusier, there is a echo of some upward mobility disposal concerning
Möller and Steiner houses, as well as the long ramp-stairs towards the hall of the Müller of
Loos. The working of the house consists in the nature of distribution that neatly defines spac-
es. The house is separated into three floors divided upon functions that interact with three
different housing situations. The sleeping zone on the upper floor, the living room with the col-
lective spaces on the medium floor and on the basement the facilities and the housekeepers
apartment.
The night zone constitutes on the upper floor of two zones, one destined to the family with
the bedrooms of the spouses, facilities and the son’s room: the second, with rooms destined
to guests with changing room and private facilities and a separate entrance, that, thanks to
the head stairs, leads to the Loggia on the medium floor. On the medium floor are positioned
the collective spaces both the roofed ones and the ones on the open air: atrium, dining room,
living room, library, Loggia – Gartenzimmer and terrace, positioned on different levels and con-
nected through stairs and galleries that lead to the main stairs. The articulation of distribution
seems to conduct to two collective spaces that we could call as principal, one on the inside

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and one on the outside but roofed, the living room and the Gartenzimmer, this last one is heart
of the architectural organism in its wholeness.
In Villa Oro, Jean-Louis Cohen identifies the co-presence of these spatial disposals, Raumplan
and Plan Libre, instruments belonging to Modernity, that interpret the spatial developing and
the complexity of ‘traditional’ architecture, result of a metamorphosis due to a secular cultural
sedimentation. Villa Oro declines some morphological themes relating to some rocky construc-
tions in Procida as well as in the Greek Islands where «the stylistic resemblance with some
constructions in the Amalfi coast was perfect [...]»45. Villa Oro also declines some thematic of
composition and finally, it conforms architecture as a choreography of actions and ways of life.
Within the project, the linguistic vocabulary take shape. It adheres to connections associated
to relationships between site, materials and ways of life. The many rooms on the open air or
roofed, the external dining room, covered by the protruding volume of Dr. Oro’s bedroom, the
terraces are in a mutual relationship with adjacent room or in continuity among them, thus
building a Raumplan extended toward the extern. The house informs itself over the ancient tra-
dition of construction. In analogy with the houses in Procida – superimposed houses which are
dug out from tuff and that being built upon rearward levels form terraces and ways, as shown
in watercolors and photographs – Rudofsky and Cosenza put up what Josef Frank considers of
pivotal importance within the question of the modern house in Das Haus als Weg und Platz and
build what Gio Ponti foreshadowed in the first editorial of Domus in 1928 in La casa all’italiana.
What is relevant is that the spatial modern disposal, Raumplan, Plan Libre the idea of Frank’s
city house, in debt with the lesson of Alberti and Sitte, the houses with no style in Procida and
Thera, all find within the research of modernity a link with the past. Auteur architecture finds
its root in the architecture of the place.
Within the experience of the journey, made during school years, Rudofsky will find in the
drawing technique as well as in photography an instrument useful to his methodology of plan-
ning. This inclination coincides with what he learned by Max Theuer in the Technische Hoch-

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schule in Vienna: the learning, the interpretation and the representation of architecture. Within
Rudofsky’s photographs we recognize the testimony of the architectural fact, in the drawing the
interpretation, in the project the rediscovery of the place. This process locates the discovery of
the primordial ‘viewpoint’. Rudofsky establishes a specific point of view where he can draw or
photograph, that often coincides with the project’s views. The insertion of the project related to
the ‘B house’ in Capri in 1932 – in one of his Ph.D. pictures, Eine primitive Betonbauweise – it is
similar to some views in Procida; the views from the Oia’s harbor, also in his Ph.D. theses, and
the views from the ‘marina’ in Procida are similar to some of the pictures of casa Oro and Posi-
tano. The terraces and the promenade of the villa rework the framing of the Corricella’s terraces.
This process reoccurs over the years: photographs, drawings, projects, they tend to melt.
The representative techniques are used as confirmation: the realized project or the scale model
are inserted and re-proposed following precise viewpoints in order to verify their efficacy, in a
constant comparison with the places visited, drawn and photographed. The memory of the site
is researched and proposed again in the project. The project is a reconstruction of the memory
of the travel experience, that assumes the value of a lesson. Drawing and photographs are inte-
gral part of the project. Memories of different places, as underlined in the essay Rapporti, where
Rudofsky compares a drawing of Pompei with a Japanese illustration. Rudofsky uses these
two examples, two striking coincidences, to demonstrate that some problems are universal. It is not possible to im-
agine the existence of relationships or cultural contacts between ancient Rome and ancient Japan. This coincidence
cannot be superficially considered as a fortuity meeting. Not only architects share a spiritual kinship but even the
authors of these two images reveal a touching sensibility that is widespread over the media of expression. All this
proves that the human fatigues and aspirations flow into universal results46.
This stresses how travelling is of fundamental importance for Bernard Rudofsky’s research,
which assumes the function of rebuilding the site, whose project is both memory and heredity.
The site itself becomes protagonist, a necessary need in order to obtain a life that is sought,
projected and yet to be built.

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94

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95

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13 9 8 3
1

4 3
5
10 7 6 2

4
2
1 2 5 3 8
1 5

4 3
12

9 6

3
11
4

Level plan + 39,00 m Level plan + 44,10 m Level plan + 47,40 m

Level plan + 39,00 m: 1 bar room; 2 thermal power plant; 3 garage; 4 domestics apartment; 5 lower terrace
Level plan + 44,10 m: 1 main entrance; 2 vestibule; 3 living room; 4 library; 5 living terrace; 6 domestic entrance; 7
dining room; 8 kitchen room; 9 outdoor dining; 10 dining terrace; 11 loggia; 12 garden terrace; 13 stairs to the sea
Level plan + 47,40 m: 1 bedroom of Augusto Oro doctor; 2 bedroom of Amelia; 3 bathroom; 4 dressroom; 5 bedroom
of the son; 6 guest bedroom; 7 depandance entrance; 8 terrace

96

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HOUSE AND SITE_10.indd 97 26/05/14 11:46
p. 94: Posillipo, view of the cliff in Tufo, ca. 1935.
p. 95: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, view from Caracciolo Avenue, ca. 1937.
p. 96: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, level plan: +39,00 m; +44,10 m; 47,40 m.
p. 97: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, view from the roof, to the west, ca. 1937.
p. 99: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, preliminary axonometric view, ca. 1936.
p. 100: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, view of the terrace, ca. 1937.
p. 101: Bernard Rudofsky, Oro House, drawing of the living terrace, ca. 1936.
pp. 102-103: Bernard Rudofsky, Oro House, drawing of the Loggia, ca. 1936.
p. 104: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, view of the Loggia, ca. 1937.
p. 105: Bernard Rudofsky and Luigi Cosenza, Oro House, view of the bar room.
p. 106: Bernard Rudofsky, Oro House, view of the living room, ca. 1936.
p. 107: Bernard Rudofsky, Oro House, drawing of the living room, ca. 1936.
p. 113: Bernard Rudofsky, Vesuvius and Carabiniere, from 4 Zeichnungen zum Aufsatz die Einkleidung, ca. 1933.

98

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99

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100

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101

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102

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103

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104

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HOUSE AND SITE_10.indd 105 26/05/14 11:46
106

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107

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THE NEED FOR SITE
1
Unpublished conference by Rudofsky held by the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis, 1981 (The Bernard Rudofsky
Estate Vienna)
2
Letter by Olbrich published by Kolo Moser, in R. J. Clark, Olbrich and Vienna, in Kunst in Hessen und am Mittelrhein,
VII, 1967, p. 31.
3
J. Hoffmann, Architectonisches von der Insel Capri in «Der Architekt » III (1897), p. 13; [it. Translation] in B. Gravag-
nuolo, Il mito mediterraneo nell’architettura contemporanea, Electa Napoli 1994, pp. 56-57.
4
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Ein Sonnenaufgang, February 11, 1882, Archiv Diefenbach-Icking Dorfen.
5
At the time Rudofsky supported himself by writing articles for the Viennese magazine Die Bühne and for Berliner
Tageblatt, for Monaschefte für Baukunst und Stadtebau, he also worked as a supervisor and illustrator for both de-
signers and building companies and gave German lessons.
6
G. Cosenza gave me this information during my visit of the archive Cosenza in via Caracciolo, and from the owners
of villa Oro, C. Cocozza of Montanara and M. Oro.
7
B. Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola, «Domus», 123, 1938, pp. 2-5.
8
B. Rudofsky, Pocket Money autobiographic text written in 1954, Archive casa Rudofsky, Frigiliana, Malaga, in A. B.
Guarneri, Bernard Rudofsky, A humane designer, New York, Springer, Wien –New York 2003, pp. 202-207.
9
B. Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola, in «Domus», 123, 1938, pp. 2-5.
10
A. B. Guarneri, Bernard Rudofsky and the Sublimation of the Vernacular, in J.-F. Lejeune, M. Sabatino, Modern Ar-
chitecture and the Mediterranean: Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities, London, Routledge 2009, p. 238.
11
A. Podestà, Una casa a Procida dell’architetto Bernard Rudofsky, «Casabella» 117, 1937, pp. 12-17.
12
B. Rudofsky, Now I Lay me down to eat, Anchor Books, New York 1980, pp. 81-82
13
A. Podestà, cit.
14
B. Rudofsky, Non ci vuole un nuovo modo di costruire, ci vuole un nuovo modo di vivere, «Domus», 123, 1938, p.
10.
15
B. Rudofsky, Now I lay me down to eat, in B. Rudofsky, Behind the Picture Window, Oxford University Press, New
York 1955, pp. 33-51; see also Table Manners at the last Supper, in Now I lay me down to eat: Notes and footnotes
on the lost art of living, Anchor Press-Doubleday New York 1980, pp. 17-44; Tischsitten beim Letzten Abendmahl, in

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LA NECESSITÀ DEL LUOGO
1
Conferenza inedita di Rudofsky tenuta al Walker Art Center di Minneapolis, 1981 (The Bernard Rudofsky Estate
Vienna).
2
Lettera di Olbrich pubblicata da Kolo Moser, in R. J. Clark, Olbrich and Vienna, in Kunst in Hessen und am Mittelrhein,
VII, 1967, p. 31.
3
J. Hoffmann, Architectonisches von der Insel Capri, «Der Architekt » III (1897), p. 13; [trad. it.] in B. Gravagnuolo, Il
mito mediterraneo nell’architettura contemporanea, Electa, Napoli 1994, pp. 56-57.
4
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Ein Sonnenaufgang, 11 febbraio 1882, Archiv Diefenbach-Icking Dorfen.
5
All’epoca Rudofsky si manteneva scrivendo articoli per la rivista viennese Die Bühne e per la Berliner Tageblatt, per
Monaschefte für Baukunst und Stadtebau, collaborava inoltre come relatore e disegnatore per progettisti e imprese
di costruzione, e dava lezioni di tedesco.
6
Informazione riferitami da G. Cosenza nel mio incontro e visita presso l’archivio Cosenza di via Caracciolo e dagli
attuali proprietari di villa Oro, C. Cocozza di Montanara e M. Oro.
7
B. Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola, «Domus» 123, 1938, pp. 2-5.
8
B. Rudofsky, Pocket Money testo autobiografico scritto nel 1954, Archivio casa Rudofsky, Frigiliana, Malaga, in A. B.
Guarneri, Bernard Rudofsky, A humane designer, New York, Springer, Wien-New York 2003, pp. 202-207.
9
B. Rudofsky, La scoperta di un’isola, «Domus» 123, 1938, pp. 2-5.
10
A. B. Guarneri, Bernard Rudofsky and the Sublimation of the Vernacular, in J.-F. Lejeune, M. Sabatino, Modern
Architecture and the Mediterranean: Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities, London, Routledge 2009, p.
238.
11
A. Podestà, Una casa a Procida dell’architetto Bernard Rudofsky, «Casabella» 117, 1937, pp. 12-17.
12
B. Rudofsky, Now I Lay me down to eat, Anchor Books, New York 1980, pp. 81-82.
13
A. Podestà, cit.
14
B. Rudofsky, Non ci vuole un nuovo modo di costruire, ci vuole un nuovo modo di vivere, «Domus» 123, 1938, p.
10.
15
B. Rudofsky, Now I lay me down to eat, in B. Rudofsky, Behind the Picture Window, Oxford University Press,
New York 1955, pp. 33-51; vedi anche Table Manners at the last Supper, in Now I lay me down to eat: Notes and

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Sparta-Sybaris: Keine neue Bauweise, eine neue Lebensweise tut not, Salzburg: Residenz/VM, 1987, pp. 101-108;
Die Waffen nieder!, in Sparta-Sybaris, cit., pp. 109-115.
16
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, «Domus» 123, 1938, p. 18.
17
B. Rudofsky, Problema, «Domus» 122, 1937, p. XXXIV.
18
Cover of «Interiors», Maggio 1946.
19
B. Rudofsky, Der wohltemperierte Wohnhof, «Umriss» 10, 1/1986, p. 5.
20
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise auf den südlichen Kykladen, nebst dem Versuche einer Datierung der-
selben, Ph.D. dissertation, Wien: Technische Hochshule 1931.
21
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise, cit.
22
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise, cit.
23
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, «Domus» 123, 1938, pp. 16-19.
24
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, cit., pp. 16-19.

THE BUILDING OF THE SITE. VILLA CAMPANELLA IN POSITANO


25
L. Cosenza, B. Rudofsky, Farsa vera di un progetto ideale, in G. Cosenza, D. Moccia, edited by, Luigi Cosenza,
l’opera completa, Electa, Napoli 1987, p. 113.
26
In reality this house is the outcome of the work for a real buyer, the manager Campanella, the builder of Casa Oro
who refused the ‘unusual’ offer of the architects.
27
Le Corbusier, Il “Vero” sola ragione dell’architettura, «Domus» 118, 1937, pp. 1-8.
28
M. V. Pollione, De Architectura, Edizioni Studio Tesi, Pordenone 1990, p. 251.
29
L. Cosenza, B. Rudofsky, Farsa vera di un progetto ideale, cit. p. 113.
30
G. Ponti, Una casa per Positano e per…altri lidi, «Domus», n. 109, January 1937, pp. 11-17.
31
F. Irace, Parentesi mediterranea, in A. Buccaro, G. Mainini, edited by, Luigi Cosenza oggi, CLEAN, Napoli 2005,
p. 113.
32
F. Irace, Parentesi mediterranea, Op. cit., p. 113.
33
C. Gambardella, La casa del Mediterraneo, Napoli tra memoria e progetto, Officina, Roma 1995. pp. 45-49.

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footnotes on the lost art of living, Anchor Press-Doubleday New York 1980, pp. 17-44; Tischsitten beim Letzten
Abendmahl, in Sparta-Sybaris: Keine neue Bauweise, eine neue Lebensweise tut not, Salzburg: Residenz / VM,
1987, pp. 101-108; Die Waffen nieder!, in Sparta-Sybaris, cit., pp. 109-115.
16
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, «Domus» 123, 1938, p. 18.
17
B. Rudofsky, Problema, «Domus» 122, 1937, p. XXXIV.
18
Copertina di «Interiors», Maggio 1946.
19
B. Rudofsky, Der wohltemperierte Wohnhof, «Umriss» 10, 1/1986, p. 5.
20
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise auf den südlichen Kykladen, nebst dem Versuche einer Datierung
derselben, dissertazione di dottorato, Wien: Technische Hochshule 1931.
21
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise, cit.
22
B. Rudofsky, Eine primitive Betonbauweise, cit.
23
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, «Domus» 123, 1938, pp. 16-19.
24
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, cit., pp. 16-19.

LA COSTRUZIONE DEL LUOGO. VILLA CAMPANELLA A POSITANO


25
L. Cosenza, B. Rudofsky, Farsa vera di un progetto ideale, in G. Cosenza, D. Moccia, a cura di, Luigi Cosenza,
l’opera completa, Electa, Napoli 1987, p. 113.
26
Questa casa, progettata nel 1936, è in realtà frutto del lavoro per un committente reale, l’impresario Campanella, il
costruttore di casa Oro, che rifiutò la proposta ‘inusuale’degli architetti.
27
Le Corbusier, Il “Vero” sola ragione dell’architettura, «Domus» 118, 1937, pp. 1-8.
28
M. V. Pollione, De Architectura, Edizioni Studio Tesi, Pordenone 1990, p. 251.
29
L. Cosenza, B. Rudofsky, Farsa vera di un progetto ideale, cit. p. 113.
30
G. Ponti, Una casa per Positano e per…altri lidi, «Domus» 109, gennaio 1937, pp. 11-17.
31
F. Irace, Parentesi mediterranea, in A. Buccaro, G. Mainini, a cura di, Luigi Cosenza oggi, CLEAN, Napoli 2005, p.
113.
32
F. Irace, Parentesi mediterranea, Op. cit., p. 113.
33
C. Gambardella, La casa del Mediterraneo, Napoli tra memoria e progetto, Officina, Roma 1995, pp. 45-49.

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CASA ORO IN POSILLIPO
34
By the beginning of the summer of 1935 the project of casa Oro is accomplished, however, its construction cannot
start until the conclusion of the war in Ethiopia in 1936. Finally, the construction starts in August 1936 and finishes on
November the second of 1937, casa Oro is published in December of the same year in Domus number 120.
35
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, in M. Beccu, L. Ficarelli, edited by, La casa
dei maestri. L’architettura domestica nel Movimento Moderno, Adda editore, Bari 2002, pp. 119-128.
36
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit., pp. 119-128.
37
C. Gambardella, Case sul golfo, Electa, Napoli 1994, p. 59.
38
L. Cosenza e B. Rudofsky, Una villa, «Casabella» 100, 1936, p. 9.
39
L. Cosenza, Esperienze del razionalismo in Italia fra le due guerre, «L’architettura, Cronache e storia» 163, 1969,
now in D. Moccia, edited by, Luigi Cosenza, scritti e progetti di architettura, CLEAN, Napoli 1994, p. 203.
40
J.-L. Cohen, La Villa Oro, o tre miti moderni, in A. Buccaro, G. Mainini, edited by, Luigi Cosenza oggi, CLEAN Napoli
2005, pp. 116-117.
41
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit.
42
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit.
43
G. Ponti, Casa a Posillipo, «Domus», 120, dicembre 1937, pp. 6-15.
44
J.-L. Cohen, La Villa Oro, o tre miti moderni, in cit., pp. 116-117.
45
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, cit., pp. 16-19.
46
B. Rudofsky, Rapporti, «Domus» 122, 1938, p. 4.

CREDITS
Picture on pages 66, 67, 73, 113, The Bernard Rudofsky Estate, Vienna © Ingrid Kummer.
Picture on pages 68, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 81-83, «Domus».
Picture on pages 84, 85, 94, 95, 97, 99-107, Archivio Cosenza, Napoli.

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CASA ORO A POSILLIPO
34
Il progetto di casa Oro è completato già all’inizio dell’estate del 1935, tuttavia i lavori di costruzione non possono
essere intrapresi prima della conclusione della guerra d’Etiopia nel 1936. Iniziati finalmente nel mese di agosto 1936,
completata il 2 novembre 1937, la casa Oro viene pubblicata nel numero 120 di Domus del dicembre dello stesso
anno.
35
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, in M. Beccu, L. Ficarelli, a cura di, La casa dei
maestri. L’architettura domestica nel Movimento Moderno, Adda editore, Bari 2002, pp. 119-128.
36
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit., pp. 119-128.
37
C. Gambardella, Case sul golfo, Electa, Napoli 1994, p. 59.
38
L. Cosenza e B. Rudofsky, Una villa, «Casabella» 100, 1936, p. 9.
39
L. Cosenza, Esperienze del razionalismo in Italia fra le due guerre, «L’architettura, Cronache e storia» 163, 1969, ora
in D. Moccia, a cura di, Luigi Cosenza, scritti e progetti di architettura, CLEAN, Napoli 1994, p. 203.
40
J.-L. Cohen, La Villa Oro, o tre miti moderni, in A. Buccaro, G. Mainini, a cura di, Luigi Cosenza oggi, CLEAN, Napoli
2005, pp. 116-117.
41
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit.
42
L. Stendardo, Luigi Cosenza: La casa Oro tra tradizione e modernità, cit.
43
G. Ponti, Casa a Posillipo, «Domus», 120, dicembre 1937, pp. 6-15.
44
J.-L. Cohen, La Villa Oro, o tre miti moderni, in cit., pp. 116-117.
45
B. Rudofsky, Origine dell’abitazione, cit., pp. 16-19.
46
B. Rudofsky, Rapporti, «Domus» 122, 1938, p. 4.

CREDITI
Immagini alle pagine 66, 67, 73, 113,
The Bernard Rudofsky Estate, Vienna © Ingrid Kummer.
Immagini alle pagine 68, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 81-83, «Domus».
Immagini alle pagine 84, 85, 94, 95, 97, 99-107, Archivio Cosenza, Napoli.

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