Some buildings are embarrassingly modern: they become tests of taste, like the Casa det Girasole, which war much argued over in the early fifties. Its architect, though a man of formidable culture and intellect, was not quite trusted in some architectural circles, and his doubtful position, as expressed in his work, enables him to throw revealing light into skeleton-haunted cupboards. Long before the eruption of Neoliberty (the Art Nouveau revival) called the progressive aims of modern Italian architecture into question, the Girasole had made them look pretty dubious. What goes on inside it is in no way modern: routine Roman apartments, planned along a corridor, and composed into a block raised above the street by a basement full of servants and services, as in all Italy back to the Quattrocento. But the exterior is unmistakably modern, Malian modern, like the most serious work of his Milanese contemporaries. Standing wide over its narrow basement, it in as modern as the Pavillon Suisse standing wide over its pilotis.
If this were just window-dressing. a veneer of modernity. the Girasole could be dismissed and conscience salved. But its modernity is not just skin-deep.Moretti has cogently argued that the split of the facade follows inexorably from the divided plan, and having thus made modern- type architecture out of bourgeois degenerate planning, he rubs in the message with wit. The facade is made to look like a false front, yet the apparently useless extensions of the walls beyond the limits of the rooms are to provide roll-away space for the shutters, and although theconcrete frame of the building is nowhere exposed, Moretti strip-teases the limbs of classical statuary among the rustication of the lower walls. as if secret caryatids were holding it all up.
Banham R. Age of the Masters: A Personal View of Modern Architecture. Harper & Row., 1975. P. 94-95.