The Church of San Giovanni Battista by Giovanni Michelucci
A great example of sensitive town planning in harmony with Tuscan nature
Among the designs of Michelucci, stands out the church of San Giovanni Battista, situated close to the junction for the Florence-North exit of the Motorway of the Sun (Autostrada del Sole). The rather unusual setting of the building is due to the fact that it is dedicated to the workmen who died in the building of the motorway, victims of the work they were undertaking. Michelucci exploited the sculptural potential of reinforced concrete to construct an architecture which seems to spring directly from the earth, in perfect harmony with the landscape. The plan of the church shows the use of a very free planimetry, with the spaces variously distributed around a central nave. Outside the alternation of curvilinear volumes and linear profiles seems to take on the gentle rolling movement of the nearby Tuscan hills.
The whole building is inserted in a green plot of land, dotted with olive trees, characterised by a variable incline, an element exploited by the same designer to achieve an external path suitable for becoming familiar with and discovering the volumetric articulation of the church and its plastic and sculptural events; in contrast the internal space is enlivened by a dense formation of tree like cement pillars, characterised by a massive base, which taper and climb in segments towards the great tented cement roof. The original chromatic value, from the rose coloured beige of the stone walls to the homogeneous brown of the copper has changed today, although this transformation has an organic and natural quality probably already guessed at by Michelucci: the brown of the roof covering has been transformed, following the oxidation of the copper, into a grey-green, spreading itself subsequently through progressive trickles across the walls underneath, which today give the impression of being partly covered in moss.