Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Rossi, Aldo

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Rossi, Aldo


The complex of buildings...
1982.03.01



"The complex of buildings in the center of Rossi's cemetery, however, is not found in the 19th century cemeteries of the Modena/Genoa type. That idea came from another source, Giovanii Battista Piranesi's reconstruction of the Campo Marzio in Rome, as he imagined it stood in late imperial times. In Piranesi's map, a large portion of the right bank of the Tiber is occupied by a group of funerary monuments dominated by the mausoleum of Hadrian, which we now know as Castel Sant'Angelo. Hadrian's tomb sits on a square base near the river. Beyond this square is a U-shaped group of buildings marked Sepulchra. They embrace the bottom of a fan-shaped structure designated by the word clitoporticus. At the apex of the fan sits a round building called Basilica. This Basilica is part of a group of monuments labeled Bustum Hadriani, designating the place where cremation occurs. The correspondence in general layout between the Piranesi and Rossi plans is too close to be accidental. Rossi, who knew this Piranesi work perfectly well (a fragment of it appears in Rossi's drawing The Analogous City, 1976), has lifted Piranesi's vision of an Imperial ancient city of the dead within the context of late-antiquity Rome, and placed it in the middle of a 19th-century cemetery plan."
--Eugene J. Johnson, "What Remains of Man--Aldo Rossi's Modena Cemetery" (1982).




in memory of Aldo Rossi
1998.01.18

I now see that Rossi's death in September '97 fits precisely into the Redrawing the Ichnographia of Piranesi's Il Campo Marzio dedication. Since September I have discovered the connection between Rossi's Modena Cemetery and Piranesi' Bustum Hadriani. The profusion of coincidences here is almost unbelievable: cemetery, bustum, axis of death, death in September, link to Piranesi...




Aldo Rossi and the Axis of Death
1998.02.08

...a reference to Rossi's own death in September 1997. ...demonstrate the effect of the Bustum Hadriani on Rossi's Modena Cemetery design. ...finding [Rossi's design] on the Axis of Death.

Piranesi and the Ichnographia are never mentioned within The Architecture of the City or The Scientific Autobiography even though the autobiography is all about personal inspirations.

In reading the article in Oppositions 5, (Rafael Moneo, "Aldo Rossi: The Idea of Architecture and the Modena Cememtery") there are some descriptions of Rossi's notions of the city that also describe the Ichnographia:

These elements are intelligible through memory, not through remembering. This kind of extreme analytic suspension gives us a fleeting glimpse of the raison d'Ítre of the city.

But the wish to clarify, to order the elements with which the city is constructed, leads Rossi to present "the fundamental hypothesis of the book . . . the study of a typology of buildings in relation to the city."

However, before proceeding, it is necessary to recall the architectonic category of permanence which Rossi associates with memory. There are, in the city, urban facts which are permanent, that withstand the passage of time; these urban facts are the monuments that, in one way or another, constitute or make up and configure the city. The monument therefore has more than an intelligible and atmospheric value, it is not only architecture as anecdote, as the picturesque, but it gives meaning to the life of the city which, through these monuments, both remembers the past and uses 'its memory.'

This collective nature explains the value of history: "the city is a repository of history."

The city is faithful to its own "memory," a term the Maurice Halbwachs already applied to the city. "The city is the locus of collective memory. Memory this becomes . . . the conducting thread of the entire complex structure . . . the collective nature and the individuality of urban facts arrange themselves into the same urban structure. Within this structure memory becomes the conscience of the city.




connection between Rossi and Piranesi
1998.04.29

...the St. Peter's - Area Martis overlay is the same as the Modena Cemetery - Bustum Hadriani connection.




4 September 1997 and today
2001.09.04 11:00

Sometime in 1998 I learned of the Eugene J. Johnson article "What Remains of Man--Aldo Rossi's Modena Cemetery" in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (March 1982), where Johnson adroitly demonstrates how Rossi's cemetery design closely compares with Piranesi's Bustum Hadriani as delineated within the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio. What Johnson does not point out however, is that Rossi essentially reenacted the Ichnographia's axis of death which actually intersects the Ichnographia's demarcation of ancient Rome's Triumphal Way. Piranesi's plan delineations of the intersection of the axis of death and the Triumphal Way themselves manifest a reenactment of the ancient Roman camp/urban planned crossing of a cardo and decumanus.

not Tampa, Florida anymore
2002.01.10 00:40

I'm glad you found some useful information, and I hope it helps toward some resolution to how you see that reenactment (potentially) relates to predestination and psychology. I haven't been coming to reenactment from that angle, so I don't even understand exactly what you're seeing. (But that doesn't at all mean that I think what you're seeing is somehow wrong or misinterpreting.)

I'll try to briefly outline (reenact) how I came to see a strong relationship between reenactment and (some but certainly not all aspects of) design.

I began redrawing Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan with CAD in 1987. I've been fascinated with this plan since the late 1970's, and I saw the opportunity to utilize the automated drawing/drafting capabilities of CAD in (re)drawing all the complicated individual plans of the Campo Marzio, which comprise many repetitive units, and manipulating repetitive units is precisely one of the things CAD is very good at facilitating.

In the early 1990s I begin an intensive redrawing of the plan, and at the same time I became reacquainted with Susan Dixon, a friend from my college days who went on to get a Ph.D. in Art History, and her dissertation was on Piranesi's archaeological publications, of which the Il Campo Marzio is one. Together (via phone conversations) Susan and I begin speculating as to what the meaning of the Campo Marzio plan might be. Many theories were speculatively put forth, but reenactment was never one of them.

The second week of August 1997 I split my energies between doing research on the Campo Marzio and research on the philosophy of history as it might relate to my theory of chronosomatics. In Encyclopedia Britannica (edition 1969) under "Philosophy of History" there is a passage explaining Vico which, while reading it, made me think of Piranesi's Campo Marzio. There is also a list of 20th century philosophers of history and the titles of the works. Collingwood's The Idea of History is among these. I go to Barnes and Nobles that same day and buy Vico's New Science and Collingwood's The Idea of History. I read the passages in The Idea of History that deal with reenactment. It dawns on me that I've been doing a kind of reenactment by redrawing Piranesi's plan.

Thursday, September 4, 1997 (coincidentally the day architect Aldo Rossi died) I find Plattus's "Passages to the City: The Interpretive Function of the Roman Triumph" in Ritual (1983). I finish reading the essay Friday night. Saturday morning I watch Diana's funeral, and it quickly hits me that I am watching exactly what I just spent the last two nights reading about. Since Piranesi himself delineated the path of the Triumphal Way through his plan of the Campo Marzio, I begin to wonder whether Piranesi too was playing some kind of reenactment game in his redrawing of the large urban plan.

It is after this point that much of the prior ten year's work begins tightly piecing together, and the notion of reenactment also aids in better understanding what information I collected further in research.

For me, reenactment was a learning tool, albeit for the most part a tool I didn't even know I was using. For Piranesi, however, (and this is what I've come to understand) reenactment was a design tool, specifically an urban design tool, whereby he generated an entirely new rendition of Rome. A Rome, moreover, that is essentially a conglomeration of many specifically themed environments, i.e., themed environments that relate exactly the history of the very places where Piranesi positioned his new designs. This is why I say Piranesi's Campo Marzio is not a reconstruction, rather a reenactment. By all indications, Piranesi was very conscious of the play of degrees of separation that reenactments involve.

Piranesi also (re)designed the city of Rome as a double (history) theater, namely the double theater of Rome's Pagan and Christian existence.




Koolhaas versus the Actor
2005.05.06 17:24

Stirling is a consummate reenactionary architect, and he knew it, but he put most of his clues in his architecture only--although his entry for Roma Interrotta is an overt reference to Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan and reenactionary architecturism. Just as Rossi reenacted the Bustum Hadriani with the Modena Cemetery, but it doesn't look like he ever told Tafuri about it.



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