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Melancholy and Architecture

On Aldo Rossi

Italian architect Aldo Rossi (1931–97) is a crucial figure in twentieth-century architecture, his work highly influential in both theory and practice. Working in Italy and throughout Europe after World War II, he disputed the then-dominant credos of the modernists—and even went so far as to question the very status of his profession. Discarding utopian pretenses, his work claimed the autonomy of architecture with formal restraint.

In Melancholy and Architecture, Diogo Seixas Lopes looks at Rossi’s work through the lens of a term often used to describe Rossi’s work: melancholy. While the influence of melancholy on literature and the visual arts has been extensively studied, its presence in architecture has been largely overlooked. Exploring Rossi’s entire career, Lopes traces out the oscillation between enthusiasm and disenchantment that marks Rossi’s work. Through a close exploration of one of Rossi’s landmark works, the Cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena, he shows how this brilliant, innovative architect reinterpreted a typology of the past to help us come to terms with representations of death and the deep sadness that inevitably accompanies it.

Beautifully illustrated, Melancholy and Architecture both illuminates the career of a key postwar architect and offers a new perspective on the long cultural history of melancholy.

224 pages | 2 color plates, 20 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 1/2

Architecture: European Architecture

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“Modern architecture is usually associated with utopian idealism but Italian Postmodernist Aldo Rossi had a more sombre temperament. Drawing on the dreamlike paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, he imbued his designs with a sense of immense sadness and the weight of history. In this study of Rossi, Seixas Lopes introduces us to the dark side of architecture, where form doesn’t always follow function.”

Financial Times

"Taking the limitations of architecture into account, Riegler Riewe's theoretical position and the unadorned quality of its work comes as a breath of fresh air amid the image-driven spectacular architecture at the beginning of the 21st century."

Thomas Wensing | Blueprint

Table of Contents

1                       PROLOGUE

1.1                                “DIESES IST LANGE HER”

1.2                                METHODS AND MATERIALS

1.3                                SEQUENCE AND CONTENTS

2                      MELANCHOLY AND ARCHITECTURE

2.1                                INTRODUCTION

2.2                                THE ORIGINS OF MELANCHOLY

2.2.1                             Antiquity

2.2.2                             The Middle Ages

2.2.3                             The Renaissance

2.3                                MELANCHOLY AND MODERNITY

2.3.1                             Aesthetics of the Sublime

2.3.2                             Spleen and Metropolis

2.3.3                             The Lost Centre

2.4                                CONCLUSION

3                      THE ALDO ROSSI CASE

3.1                                INTRODUCTION

3.2                                HISTORICAL CONTEXT

3.2.1                             Postwar Italy

3.2.2                             An Ideology of Realism

3.2.3                             Continuity or Crisis?

3.3                                ARCHITECTURAL FUNDAMENTS

3.3.1                             Architecture as Choice

3.3.2                             Architecture as Memory

3.3.3                             Architecture as Autobiography

3.4                                CONCLUSION

4                      THE CEMETERY OF SAN CATALDO

4.1                                INTRODUCTION

4.2                                THE HISTORY OF SAN CATALDO

4.2.1                             First Stage of Competition

4.2.2                             Second Stage of Competition

4.2.3                             Planning and Construction

4.3                                AN INTERPRETATION OF SAN CATALDO

4.3.1                             The City of the Dead

4.3.2                             The Abandoned House

4.3.3                             The Form of the Skeleton

4.3.4                             The Architecture of Shadows

4.4                                CONCLUSION

5                      EPILOGUE

5.1                                “AN ARCHITECTURE OF OPTIMISM”

5.2                                CULTURE AND CRISIS

5.3                                FINAL CONSIDERATIONS


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