Aldo Rossi 2

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  • Topic: Italy, Milan, Aldo Rossi
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  • Published : October 3, 2011
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Aldo Rossi (May 3, 1931- September 4, 1997), is one of the most influential architects during the period 1972- 1988, has accomplished the unusual feat of achieving international recognition in three distinct areas: theory, drawing and architecture. After receiving his architecture degree at the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University in Milan) in 1959, Aldo Rossi served as a course assistant to prominent architects Ludovico Quaroni and Carla Amoynino. Aldo Rossi became a faculty member in the School of Architecture in Milan in 1965 and at the University of Venice in 1975. In addition to these regular appointments, his growing fame brought him positions as a professor in Zurich, Spain and United States.

Aldo Rossi’s career as a theorist began to take shape during the years that he worked with Ernesto Rogers on the leading Italian architecture magazine Casabella Continuita (1955- 1964). In 1966, Aldo Rossi published the book "l'architettura della città" (The Architecture Of The City), which subsequently was translated into several languages and enjoyed enormous international success. Spurning the then fashionable debates on style, Aldo Rossi instead criticized the lack of understanding of the city in current architectural practice. Aldo Rossi argued that a city must be studied and valued as something constructed over time; of particular interest are urban artifacts that withstand the passage of time. Despite the modern movement polemics against monuments, for example, Aldo Rossi held that the city remembers its past and uses that memory through monuments; that is, monuments give structure to the city. This understanding of the city and its elements, its monuments, and its permanencies, informed Aldo Rossi’s own designs for public buildings. One of his earliest major public buildings was the addition to the existing cemetery of the city of Modena in northern Italy. Perceiving the cemetery as a repository of social meaning, Aldo Rossi conceived of it as a house for the dead, indeed, a city of the dead. The elemental architectonic forms, as in the elegant stereo metric volumes of the ossuary with its chamfered windows, reflect his ongoing investigations into building typology, that which remains beyond the particular and the concrete.

The primary elements of architecture are repeated again and again in his work as Aldo Rossi engages in a determined search for essential forms based on what Aldo Rossi refers as “repetition and fixation”. Aldo Rossi attempts to recover the “immovable elements of architecture”, not as empty catalogues of forms but as a search for an ageless originality found in formal types. Understood in this fashion, architecture, Aldo Rossi claims helps make sense of the lived reality of the world. It also provides the fixed scene of human events, which the architect historically has not been able to foresee. The most enduring architecture has been that which, in Aldo Rossi’s words, “stopped short of the event”. Aldo Rossi gave these ideas built form in the school at Fagnano Olona, for example, where the grand stepped podium leads to the gymnasium; and provides a place where class photographs can be taken, a school ritual in both Italy and the United States. Such rituals, says Aldo Rossi, give the “comfort of continuity, repetition, compelling us to an oblique forgetfulness”; the architecture should provide the backdrop against which they can be played out.

In the project for the Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa, Aldo Rossi’s task was to replace the theatre that was bombed in World War II. His project leaves the old facade intact but accommodates full complex of new functions and spaces. The stereometric architectural forms convey an originality that at the same time transcends time and asserts a powerful presence in the urban fabric. Here and elsewhere, Aldo Rossi avoids historical and technological detailing in favour of preserving the integrity of the volumes, which then convey the...
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