Aimaro d’Isola

I failed to do my research last time on Aimaro d’Isola on whose estate we are staying.   

Born in 1928, he studied at the Politecnico di Turin and went into partnership with Roberto Gabetti, a fellow student, as Gabetti & Isola in 1952, the year he graduated.   They helped establish the so-called Neo-Liberty Movement (although they did not either like or recognise the term), which was much promoted by Ernesto Rogers (a cousin of Richard Rogers) in Casabella, reviled by Bruno Zevi (he thought their work was decadent) and Reyner Banham, who wrote about it in the Architectural Review in 1958 where he described it it an ‘infantile regression’ (both Banham and Pevsner admired art nouveau, but only provided it was in the past).   

Their early work in the 1950s included the Bottega d’Erasmo in the Via Gaudenzio Ferrari, an antiquarian bookshop commissioned in 1953 by Angelo Barrera, a bookseller, which had brick columns and erratically projecting windows reminiscent of the Glasgow School of Art:-

Also, the old Stock Exchange Building (they won the competition in 1952, the year that d’Isola graduated, and completed it in 1956), which was much more mannered in its use of materials than a standard modernist building, including a rusticated plinth and medieval cloister-style vaults over the trading floor.   
In the 1960s, they reconstructed the Societa Ippica Torinese, which had previously been designed by Carlo Mollino, and did the Chiesa dell’Assunta in the hills above Bagnolo, a use of free, organic form and local materials.   In the 1970s, they did a major building as part of the Olivetti complex in Ivrea.   In the 1980s, they did the Law Courts at Alba, a complex, low-rise building and, also, well considered and intelligent housing projects round Turin, with angled and stepped rooflines, but not postmodern:-

Also, the Museo di Antichità in Turin (1982-1994) and La Tuminera (1980), the local artisan cheese shop in Bagnolo, which combines living quarters with an industrialised dairy:-

More recently, they did the Hotel Santo Stefano (2000-2003) which has many of their characteristics of marrying elaborate brickwork and vernacular elements to modern design:-

Walking round the estate, it is easy to see where he got part at least of his inspiration:  the deep Alpine eves and the use of rough stone is part of the Piedmontese vernacular;  a sense of the materiality of building and the logic of the old as well as the new.


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