Vittoriano Vigano: House at Porto Portese, Lake Garda (1953-58)

Instituto Marchiondi in late 1950s (Banham: New Brutalism)

Vittoriano Vigano (1919-1996) is best known for his Instituto Marchiondi-Spagliardi (1954-58) a home for “… difficult or temperamental youths” at Via Noale, 1, Milan. It held its own alongside projects by Le Corbusier, Atelier 5, Rudolph the Smithsons etc in Reyner Banham’s influential The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic (1966) –  more or less a “brutalism” handbook in the English speaking world at least. Owned by the City of Milan since 1997 the Instituto Marchiondi is no longer used for its original purpose and is, regrettably, in poor condition.

Instituto Marchiondi in 2009 (flickr: i_am_your_pet)

Corresponding exactly in chronological time with the Instituto Marchiondi  project, Vigano undertook a small residential project at Lake Garda for the sculptor/architect Andre Bloc (1896-1966) who founded the magazine L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui  in 1930.

Villa at Lake Garda, exterior from below (Vittoriano Vigano)

A rather small house on a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Garda, this work is a slither of space framed between two horizontal concrete planes. It is perhaps Vigano’s best work; in this work his conceptualizing and control of execution is extraordinary.

Villa at Lake Garda, interior (Vittoriano Vigano)

Villa at Lake Garda, exterior (Vittoriano Vigano)

Vigano also had a lengthy career teaching at the Milan Polytechnic and eventually extended the Faculty of Architecture (1974-85) with the collaboration of the engineer and fellow teacher Fabrizio de Miranda;  it is a work that is probably Vigano’s most flamboyant.

Architecture Faculty at Milan Polytechnic 1983 (with Fabrizio de Miranda)

The wide gamut of Vigano’s aesthetic production in numerous design fields is further illustrated by his own Milan apartment interior.

Vittoriano Vigano Apartment, Milan (from Spazio)

In his early period Vigano also produced designs for light fittings and furniture, some of which are now finding their way onto the collector’s market and auction houses.

Vigano - Adjustable Floor Lamp, 1956 (Galerie Ulrich Fiedler)

Whatever the reason – perhaps through spending so much time teaching –  Vigano, the design polymath, didn’t construct the sort of career that placed him front and centre of the architectural firmament, but his alternative path is the more interesting for the career – and the works – he was able to produce.


Banham, Reyner (1966) The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?

Vigano, Vittoriano (1992) A Come Architettura

Franz Graf e Letizia Tedecshi (2009) L’Instituto Marchiondi Spagliardi di Vittoriano Vigano

Monica Pidgeon and Theo Crosby (1960) An Anthology of Houses

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