Playing within De Carlo’s field

architectural historians and the Villaggio Matteotti


  • Filippo De Pieri



Giancarlo De Carlo, Manfredo Tafuri, Architectural Criticism, History and Design


The paper takes the New Villaggio Matteotti in Terni, a housing complex designed by Giancarlo De Carlo in the early 1970s, as an observation point from which to measure some of the competences and tools that architectural historians of late modernism have often mobilized. The analysis of the existing literature on the Villaggio brings to identify at least three recurrent ways of understanding the role of the historian. First, the historian as an intellectual exposing the contradictions behind architectural practice. Second, the historian as a philologist and a specialist in the treatment of dedicated archival sources. Third, the historian as a specialist in the study of architectural forms. The analysis suggests that, at least in this case, historians have firmly situated themselves within definitions and ways of understanding the architectural object that had been initially codified by the designer. This raises questions concerning the capacity of architectural history to contribute to radical changes in the interpretation of the built environment.