Architecture of Analogy

After Architect Aldo Rossi: The Itinerary

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on June 5, 2011

My own copy of The Architecture of the City, and the tools of inquiry.”]

Italian architect Aldo Rossi writes in A Scientific Autobiography: “Perhaps the observation of things has remained my most important formal education; for observation later becomes transformed into memory. Now I seem to see all the things I have observed arranged like tools in a neat row; they are aligned as in a botanical chart, or a catalogue, or a dictionary.”

The chart and catalogue; observation and memory. The axis of Rossi’s thesis is, on one hand, the relationship between building types to urban morphology and thus to catalogue; on the other it is the temporal relationship of history and memory. My own knowledge of Rossi has up to now been limited to the many translated texts of his, perhaps the most significant being The Architecture of the City (1966), A Scientific Autobiography (1981) and the two texts of 1976 An Analogical Architecture and The Analogical City: Panel. With the exception of the museum of art in Maastricht, the Netherlands and his hotel in Fukoaka, Japan, I am yet to fully immerse myself in the built analogue of Rossi’s writings.

However, for the following two weeks I will study the palazzo’s, the piazza’s and the porticoes of northern Italy, fuelled by Illy espresso and in search of all things Aldo Rossi… A preliminary itinerary is thus:

Bologna’s “Bilbao” is the MAMBA. A former industrial complex turned hub of film, theatre and contemporary art.

In Modena, I will visit Rossi’s unfinished cemetery of San Cataldo.

I struggle to get through a presentation, seminar or paper without some reference to the analogical representation of Palladian artefacts that is Canaletto’s Capriccio view of Venice (1759); potentially a major highlight in Parma.

The real Palladian artefacts lay in wait in Vicenza: the Palazzo Chierecati and the Piazza dei Signori and Basilica. Inside the Teatro Olimpico is Scamozzi’s theatre set based on Serlio’s perspective street scenes: the Comical, the Satyric and the Tragic. Another reference that my student’s have to put up with…

Rossi’s “propelling permanence,” the Palazzo della Ragione, a medieval town hall, Renaissance court, and now market place, is a primary element in Padua.

Directed by Bice Curiger and titled “Illuminations” La Biennale at the Giardini and Arsenale in Venice is the next stop. A pleasing aside to this art fest will be the facade of Ca’ d’Oro, Piazza San Marco, a few more Palladio’s, a Guggenheim and Filarete’s Column.

The environs of Milan provide another dose of Rossi. To the north, the elementary school at Fagnano Olona and perhaps if I have time, Arona with that much drawn and re-drawn hand of San Carlone.

Broni is south of Milan and is the location of another school.

Alberti’s San Andrea in Mantua is a worthwhile pause, before visiting Rossi’s first built work, the monument and town square in Segrate.

My Rossi trip concludes with a visit to the Gallaratese housing block; while my Italy trip ends with a city sketch from the Duomo, or maybe a camminata through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.

“… But this catalogue, lying somewhere between imagination and memory, is not neutral; it always reappears in several objects and constitutes their deformation and, in some way, their evolution” (Rossi, 1981). A catalogue of observations (some Rossian, some Freudian) via photographs, drawings and anecdotes to follow…


Cameron McEwan June 2011

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Anthony Haynes said, on June 25, 2011 at 12:20

    Am enjoying exploring architecture vicaruously through your explorations!

    • Cameron McEwan said, on June 27, 2011 at 15:51


      I’m glad that you’re enjoying an architectural browse, Anthony!

  2. Echo Zhang said, on December 20, 2012 at 14:31

    Hello, recently i began my research work on Aldo Rossi. And i’m really surprised to find that you share so many similar ideas with me! and at this point, after i have reviewed most of your blogs on Rossi in a reversed chronology, i’m more surprised to see that you start with the same books as i use! Ja, meant the architecture of the city by Rossi and the italian architectural history by Terry Kirk…So, eh, a nice job, guy! and it’s better to know somebody having the similar ideas with you. I think at the time i may contact you discussing some questions on Rossi. Hope we’ll both do well in this field!

    • Cameron McEwan said, on December 20, 2012 at 16:18

      Hi, thanks for the comment and I’m glad that you have been reading my blog! Some questions would be nice so please ask. Also, where are you based and what is your research on?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: