An Experimental Early Work by Renzo Piano Threatened
Located in Bastia Umbra, nine miles southwest of Perugia in Italy’s Umbria region, the casa evolutiva, or evolutionary house, was built in 1978 as a shelter for mentally ill patients. Designed in collaboration with the late Peter Rice—who was working with Piano and Richard Rogers on Paris’s Pompidou Center at around the same time—the building was meant to be inexpensive and easy to assemble and modify. In a video of unknown origin posted on YouTube, Renzo Piano explains, in Italian, that the exterior walls are fixed, but a large sliding glass wall on the interior can be moved to increase the occupiable space from 540 square feet up to 1,300 square feet.
According to La Stampa, the building’s structure was recently declared unsound, and its tenants evicted. Neither the building’s owner nor the local government seem inclined to save the building and become its patron. “We don’t intend to impose an artistic chain on the work,” the paper quotes Bastia Umbra’s mayor, Stefano Ansideri. Piano has yet to comment.