concrete architecture Trieste

Rozzol Melara, Trieste

Rozzol Melara is a brutalist residential housing complex 4km outside the centre of the port city of Trieste in North-East Italy. Known locally as ‘Alcatraz’ or ‘the quad’, it is a nod to its design and the perceived experience of its residents.  The Autonomous Council Housing Institute (IACP) wanted to create an ‘independent village’; it commissioned the building of a new type of housing estate, which culminated in the creation of Rozzol Melara, built between 1969-1982.

The design combined huge concrete blocks with walkways and bridges, a design that critics suggested made it look like something designed by committee….which in fact it was, as a series of architects were involved headed by Carlo Celli. The inspiration was  Corbusier’s last building, the Dominican order priory Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux-sur-l’Arbresle, France. However, if there is a comparison to be made, then the one to look to is Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation which was on a far smaller scale and fared far better in public consciousness.


brutalist housing estate italy

Rozzol Melara

Sainte Marie de La Tourette by Corbusier

Sainte Marie de La Tourette by Corbusier


The first of Rozzol Melara’s 2500 residents moved into their new home in 1979, ultimately 468 apartments were built, and the project took another three years to complete. It aspired to be a model for modern social housing; in fact, it became the byword for how not to build a community. The challenges were a combination of the sheer physical presence of its concrete parts and design, which made its residents feel decidedly unsafe.


brutalist housing estate Trieste

rozzol melara brutalist estate

Rozzol Melara Inner corridor with graffiti


In recent years the government has committed significant sums to improve the estate, recognising that a bold design alone will not build a cohesive community. There is also a recognition that time has passed and that vast concrete estates will likely not be built again in our lifetime. Like other brutalist estates around the world, there is now a grudging admiration for what Celli was trying to achieve.


brutalist housing estate internal walkway

brutalist housing trieste italy

Looking across to another housing block within the estate


Dario Lorenzini visited and captured the walkways and curves. At first glance, the images look like the poster boy for urban disconnect; however, to dismiss the design out of hand would be to miss its brutalist charms. The problem is its one thing living somewhere which looks like the set of an urban drama and quite another to live in it.


inside the rozzol melara estate Trieste

brutalist social housing project

brutalist housing estate corridors


Visiting Rozzol Melara:

Location of Estate: Via Louis Pasteur and Villa Revoltella Park

All images Copyright of Dario Lorenzini

Find Dario on Instagram at

Image of Sainte Marie de La Tourette by Corbusier: Alexandre Norman CC BY SA 1.0

brutalist architecture in italy




Related Products

Related Posts

art work at Pallasseum Sozialpalast Berlin

Berlin’s Concrete Pallasseum and What Lies Beneath

Thursday August 2019
By Greyscape
Alison and Peter Smithson Robin Hood Gardens demolition

Robin Hood Gardens

Why the V&A took an unprecedented step


Monday November 2017
By Greyscape
Pruitt-Igoe blown up 13 March 1972

Modernism Was Framed: The Truth About Pruitt-Igoe

Wednesday October 2020
By Greyscape