Church of the Autostrada, Michelucci, outside Florence, Italy; 1988

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Outside of Florence is an amazing church, San Giovanni Battista all’ Autostrada del Sole built in 1960-64 by Giovanni Michelucci. The building make a strong contrast between its tensile roof and heavy stone base, an allusion to heaven and earth. Michelucci wanted the church to feel tent-like – as the earth is a precarious existence under heaven.

Michelucci’s career spanned early Italian rationalism through to this expressive, poetic later work. What holds consistent throughout that is clear and articulated use of the building’s structure to define the spatial experience.

Michelucci was a strong influence and part-time collaborator with Leonardo Ricci, an instructor of mine, for whom I worked for an all-too-short period in Venice. Hosts of students from all the various places Leo taught, hold him and his wife, Maria Dallerba Ricci, as abiding influences and inspiration for how to be an architect and how to live.

More on the work of Leonardo and Maria Dallerba Ricci soon to come.

Photo by Mark Gerwing, 1988.

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