Page B1.1 . 12 August 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department
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The Revolving Villa

by Chad Randl

"I have decided to make the complete turn."

Euphoric over seeing his still under-construction house rotate its planned 180 degrees for the first time, the Italian civil engineer Angelo Invernizzi quickly wrote a colleague that the final version had to go all the way around.

It was called the Villa Girasole, a summer house set on a hillside of vineyards and orchards above his home village Marcellise, near Verona. Girasole was the first well-known, built rotating house. It was an experiment, a showpiece, and a unique personal statement that resulted from the collaborative efforts of several designers.

Rotating Experiment

Born in 1884, Invernizzi attended university in Genoa and worked for the state railway in Padua. After graduation he did technical drawings for the railroad for several years. His daughter Lidia is certain it was there, immersed in the technology of transportation, that her father first developed the idea of a rotating house.

After World War I, Invernizzi established his own firm in Genoa and developed an expertise in reinforced concrete construction. While he may have ruminated on the idea for years, the first drawings of his rotating villa date to 1929. Building began in 1931, and proceeding only during the summer months, was completed in 1935.

Invernizzi and his design team used the villa project as a laboratory for trying out modern materials, from reinforced concrete to fiber-cement wall boards. In keeping with the project's experimental nature, a considerable amount of adaptation and refinement accompanied construction.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot by Chad Randl, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.



ArchWeek Image

In this photo of Villa Girasole, the courtyard is rotated into shade, and facing into the hill behind, providing privacy and an intimate connection with the ground.
Photo: Archivio del Moderno, Accademia di architettura, Universitā della Svizzera italiana Extra Large Image

ArchWeek Image

Villa Girasole, near Marcellise, Italy, built from 1931 to 1935, was designed by Italian engineer Agnelo Invernizzi with architect Ettore Fagiuoli. Set on a massive cylindrical plinth, the upper stories can rotate 360 degrees around a central axis.
Photo: Archivio del Moderno, Accademia di architettura, Universitā della Svizzera italiana Extra Large Image


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