Animazione Testata



Starting from Vitruvio Tractatus, the theme dealt with is that of the relationship between the architectural project and the ''Zeitgeist'' (spirit of time), that is how architects and, consequently, architecture can not be influenced by the influence of the historical moment. Through the thought of two masters of architecture, Mies Van der Rohe and Aldo Rossi, true interpreters of their time, analysis leads, also through some philosophical references, to a reflection on the architectural project in the contemporary, with, at the end, a personal reflection around the topics of the contemporary architecture, ''for a rough and essential architecture''.

Keyword: Mies Van der Rohe, Aldo Rossi, contemporary architecture.

For a rough and essential architecture

Notes for a contemporary architectural ethics through Mies and Rossi


Antonello Stella

Università degli studi di Ferrara


"Taking care" – this is, I think, the most cogent incipit in contemporaneity and posed by this call. We architects cannot avoid to take care of the world in which we live, we must know how to interpret it by returning an architecture that corresponds to it. Consequently, architecture, or the product of our doing, participates, must necessarily participate in the formation of the common good. Already Vitruvius emphasized this ethical necessity in the first pages of the first treatise in the history of architecture: "Philosophy (...) makes the architect magnanimous and makes sure that it is not arrogant, but rather flexible, impartial and, more importantly, faithful without greed (no work can indeed be carried out righteously in the absence of loyalty and moral integrity"(1) The main pitfall that in this contemporary world undermines this inescapable concept of our profession is the vision, unfortunately very present in contemporary architecture, of the project as an individual act and therefore subjective and ultimately self-referential.

Before unraveling my thoughts on this aspect that is absolutely up to date, I would very briefly recall two figures apparently very distant from each other due to the formal outcomes of their architecture that have more than other masters of architecture know how to interpret their time, before in modernity and therefore in post-modernity, corresponding with their architecture to the spirit of their time. If the formal outcomes were very different, the essence of their architecture coincides through a reading of "sense" and not of form, finally bringing architecture into a dimension of meaning and not of "pure visibilism". The formal synthesis of their thought was so evident and exact that was, not by chance, trivialized by the many who saw and still read architecture as a merely formal, and therefore individual process.

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