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The Architecture of reason: tradition, history and city


The Architecture of reason: tradition, history and city


edited by Gaetano FUSCO



A dangerous misunderstanding of the contemporary architecture is the idea of the invention at all costs.

The main aim of architects appears the will of distinguish themselves by the existing as physical context and, above all, as heritage that history of architecture produced. The paradox is that this attitude, in the age of globalization, produces the risk that cities - even if they are pre-eminently the place of local identities - end up to be all similar.

The Network called “The Architecture of reason: tradition, history and city”, in an inclusive and wide way, wants to be the place of confrontation between theoretical, of project and research experiences with a common background: the idea that - contrary to the avant-garde where the progress is intended as diversity/refusal the architectural form is rational not because it “prefers the right angle” but because it is intelligible, able to explain itself and, in this way, shared. This attitude is what we call RATIONAL OPTION in architecture. It is a definition that origins in the theoretical thought of Aldo Rossi and, in this sense, is a specificity of the Italian cultural heritage; points of the Theory are: a process of disciplinary re-foundation careful to the HISTORY of architecture and its TRADITION; the structuralist analysis of architecture starting form the physical and material peculiarities of the CITY. 


The Network is organized in the following Sections:

1-THEORY  is the section on theory and comparison with general thought on the subject of reasoin and tradition

2-PROJECTS monographic essays about architectural projects that want to investigate syntactical  and compositional procedures and the relationship between typological arrangement, tradition and urban peculiarities of the contexts using the critical re-drawing as the main instrument

3-HISTORY 'stories’ of works, architects, projects, events related to the key-words: Tradition, History, City.

CALL FOR PAPER: the proposed articles should be sent to

The articles will be peer-reviewed. The accepted articles will be published on-line and have the value of national publication with ISSN.


Gaetano FUSCO

Gaetano Fusco (1959) has studied architecture to Naples where, after a collaboration apprenticeship with the study of Agostino Renna, alive and manages the work as I space intellectual that is accompanied to the search, to the teaching, to the writing. Doctor of Search, is teacher of Architectural Composition near the Faculties of Architecture of the Second University of the Studies of Naples and the University of the Studies in Parma. It collaborates to the international magazine of architecture "to Live the Earth" directed by Paul Portoghesi (Rome) and it is editor of the magazine "Aiòn" directed by Massimo Fagioli (Florence). He has published the books “Architettura e territorio” (Clean 1998), “Impronte.Architetture” (Il Laboratorio 2002), “Franz di Salvo. Works and Projects” (Clean 2003), “Il classico nel moderno” (Aión 2007) and numerous wise man in books national and international magazines among which "Urban Geographies.Landscapes of the architecture" in “Die Idee der Stadt” (edited by Uwe Schroder, Wasmuth-Verlag, Fachhochschule Köln Cologne University of Applied Sciences - Fakultät für Architektur).





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Elenco Articoli

Giancarlo De Carlo a Catania
This essay deals with the issue of the threshold architectural experience of Giancarlo De Carlo. What we have tried to inquire the fallout is that his political and narrative approach to the project had on this topic. The idea to develop this investigation stems from a visit made to the Monastery of San Nicolo' Arena in Catania, converted into a Faculty of Letters from Giancarlo De Carlo, where the idea of drawing up a meaningful thresholds network allows the visitor to experience this building new and free way.

Giancarlo De Carlo, threshold, architecture

Inserito il 11/04/2017 19:15 - Leggi tutto »

The Fiction of Reason: Tafuri and the Avant-Garde
Though many architects reject the system of rational urban planning by presenting utopian designs, critics like Manfredo Tafuri consider the most experimental projects of the 1960s and 1970s as meaningless paper architecture with no concern for the social reality of the city. He connects the contemporary architecture with the historical avant-garde of Italian rationalism, which was always related to social transformation and critical resistance against established society, and considers modernism as a development in which the avant-gardes - visions of utopia come to be recognized as an idealization of capitalism, a transfiguration of the rationality into autonomous form. Yet, Tafuri also relates Le Corbusier´s rational designs to multiple readings that also include a surrealist sensibility. He constructs the architectural concepts around the struggle between the universal values represented by nature and the rational values represented by technology. A case in point is the Beistegui Apartment in Paris (1930-31) who was a collector of surrealist art.
The architecture of the 1960s and 1970s overthrew the modernist principle of formal composition, functional fit, and constructional logic by opening up the discipline to the realm of artificiality, consumer imagery, Pop art and science fiction aesthetics. Yet, critical positions, such as Tafuri, speak of a technocratic idealism, claiming that this submission to the present totalizing technologically advanced conditions of production and consumption would strip the emergent experimental lineage of a social and political efficacy. Tafuri dismisses both the modernist ideology of the functionalist plan and the nave belief in progress. Both positions make architecture the efficient agent of capitalist 'planification' and, indeed, complicitous with the commodity system, that fully arrived in postwar consumer culture. Hence, such projects cannot serve as operative criticism, which aims at the reengagement of the discipline, because the autonomy of architecture closely connected to its social functions.

Inserito il 13/01/2017 10:41 - Leggi tutto »

Continuità e razionalità del progetto
The architecture rational measure is all inside the lesson Alberti once the bill takes charge of responding to the needs of modernity of their time without giving up the arduous search of concreteness. A measure representing values and meanings or even more often, such a limit to be defined in one word ethics and aesthetics of architecture.
Through the concreteness of the classical legacy rationalist compositional research is recognized in the theory of a method, the extent of the form, the texture of a real and concrete language with the responsibility due to issues such as architecture and the city they are civil, public and collective.
The rational architecture building process is therefore recognizable origin, the idea, and its purpose, the construction. In modernity of its rational project explores the time of classical culture to grasp the meanings and values and transfer the idea of a logical architecture and concrete keeping in mind that the architecture draws nourishment from the ancient roots being able to consider the classic nous generator that particular world of architectural culture of the rationalism.
As with Adolf Loos, the consistency and coherence of theoretical Aldo Rossi of the classical world finds its construct and refined in history of tradition with the certainty of tradibilità of the past. As for the Alberti adheres to the reality of the time and the culture of an to express the authenticity of the work.
Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Ludovico Quaroni and Giuseppe Samonà have interpreted the difficult modernity of the twentieth century in the schools of Milan, Venice and Rome and Rossi reflects the heritage of the outstanding masters of rationalism to renew and transmit the rational language in Italian schools of architecture and leads to completion the Homeric myth of the father who is so accomplished their spirituality.

Inserito il 12/01/2017 02:40 - Leggi tutto »

Cinque domande sull'attualità del razionalismo architettonico

EdA Esempi di Architettura, Vol. 3 ,n.2, 2016

Translation in Italian by Silvia Malcovati

Inserito il 10/01/2017 07:04 - Leggi tutto »

Francesco Fichera / Guido Canella
Architect of “altro moderno” and that of “post modern” fought, in different times, a cultural battle with a common aim: to overcome the stylistic homogenization of International Style. The theoretical and methodological convergences between these two architectural “schools” can be analyzed through the juxtaposition of thought and works from two of the most representative architects: Francesco Fichera and Guido Canella.

Inserito il 09/01/2017 08:55 - Leggi tutto »

Razionalismo: Architettura come Anamnesi
On the Rationalism, the Critique has lived under the shadow of prejudice that the tension towards abstraction of the Universal had hard will to ignore, as a reset, the way that History had ever done. No abstraction, no metaphysic, can detach from the Reality (cannot to be other than representation), otherwise its in-founded.
Therefore, if Rationalism has meant a great page of architectural history, this has been possible thanks to its foundation: [his] memory. Here, memory is increasingly understood exclusively in a sense extra-linguistic. Memory - as archè of each aesthetic thing - is the arché of architecture of Reason. The architecture - even in the case of Rationalism -, always returns to think of her arché.
Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Hilberseimer, and all the great Rationalists Masters, have always aimed at overcoming the contingent conditions that produced their works, in search of architectural principles remembering the great lesson of History.
The architectural logos is always intended as a separating tool of indistinct subject/object of phenomenal reality, in favor of the expression of the timeless principles, to make it objectify. Being generated a singular paradox: the architectural object genealogically looking at his past, doesn´t look the past or the future, but 'is'. Appointing memory, here we don´t want to propose - or restore – a 'principle of authority' of past, to determine a similar rule that had the Classical Orders, for much of the great architecture of the past. It would be a mistake to think of the phenomenal dimension of architecture.
It refers here at the essentials of those phenomena; what it´s in the basement of the historical context by thinking 'isms'.
Inserito il 09/01/2017 07:58 - Leggi tutto »

Il linguaggio della realtà: il razionalismo ''all'italiana''
The italian Rationalism, starting from Giuseppe Terragni, was aiming for continuity, in spite of the appearances of the clamor avant-garde, with historical tradition of the cities. Continuity that will be confirmed, amplified and clarified, from Giuseppe Pagano and Ernesto Nathan Rogers and that it will push their positions and the italian Rationalism in the territory of the Realism.
The Milan Rationalism of the years Seventy and Eighty, of Rossi, Grassi and Monestiroli, will be found to face the Italian reality in a social and economic climate deeply changed but always in continuity with the teaching of the masters. But has their work been able to meet that reality to which they aspired? I believe of no, if not in way fragmented and occasional. The Milan Rationalism seems to have forgotten the fundamental lesson of Rogers on the Time and seems clogged in an abstract architecture, ahistorical, although to lines poetic.

Inserito il 09/01/2017 02:41 - Leggi tutto »

The competition for the construction of a staircase leading to the bell tower of the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples was published with the aim of ensuring a new use of a pre-existence of great historical and artistic value, characterized by a complex spatial organization. The following project interprets the design of the access to the tower structure as an opportunity to reclaim the space around it. In line with the notice of competition, the new architecture is intended to mend the tear generated over the years by numerous interventions of modification and restoration that have characterized the monastic complex.

Key-words: Naples, Santa Chiara bell tower, heritage and contemporary project

Inserito il 10/12/2016 14:56 - Leggi tutto »

The paper is a description of two projects for the historical city of Naples. The first one is a building in an urban empty space near the Department of Architecture of the University of Naples Federico II and is a multi-functional structure for the students but also an occasion to revamp the Pignasecca square. The second is an urban project, developed in the context of a teaching experience, along the waterfront of via Marina to define, through towers on a basement, the limit of the city toward the sea. Both projects, even if at different scales and developed in different occasions, started from the occasion offered by an article of the Norms of the Urban Plan of Naples about “ruins and empty spaces resulting from demolitions”.

Key-words: Naples, urban project, plan and project

Inserito il 10/12/2016 14:46 - Leggi tutto »

Il complesso dello Spirito Santo a Napoli
The essay examines the building of the Faculty of Architecture in Naples, a work by the Neapolitan architect Marcello Canino, dean of the faculty in between the '40s and '50s of the twentieth century. The project is the result of a revamping work of a sixteenth-century religious complex, remodelled in the Baroque period. The Conservatory in the twentieth century housed accommodation and conditions of the building felt the weight of centuries. It was therefore decided to intervene demolishing much of what was left of the old complex and the new project was entrusted to Marcello Canino. The analysis is performed on historical and compositional plan, in the form of direct comparison between the previous religious building and the new building, by searching for analogies and references.

Inserito il 02/09/2016 10:19 - Leggi tutto »

Il ruolo dell'architettura nei confronti della società
The wide-ranging debate relating to the architect's responsibility towards society has often been over-simplified by use of the term participation, resulting in the production of a tide of literature on the subject. De Carlo was one who supported participation, but the matter is not as simple as that. Numerous examples have been cited, mainly of residential architecture, some of which council housing, in which the architect interviewed the inhabitants. Several critics have commented that he used maieutic to convince people to support his projects; others claim that in reality it was only a pretext for propaganda and publicity. What is certain is that participation was a key word for De Carlo, who was an attentive anticipator of present-day issues. The intention of this work is to explain De Carlo's theoretic by means of the cultural context and editorial production, in order to arrive at an understanding that the object in discussion is not participation (which can be defined as a tool) but rather the role architecture can have with regard to society. This will be explained by means of a close examination of the most noteworthy events which took place at the end of the CIAM until the creation of Team X and from the tenth Triennial of Milan in 1954 with the Mostra dell'Urbanistica entitled “Cronache Italiane”, up to the seventh Biennial of Architecture in 2000, organized by Massimiliano Fuksas entitled “Città, Less Aesthetics, More Ethics”. A rapid survey, similar to a trailer, in which the real protagonists are always the same: space understood as architecture and society understood as the people who inhabit it.

Inserito il 10/12/2015 17:40 - Leggi tutto »

Archeologia e architettura
This text describes a project for the archaeological area of San Carminiello ai Mannesi in Naples within the ancient Greek-Roman centre of Naples. The functional hypothesis is the construction of a building for students accommodation and of an archaeological museum but what is important is the ''architectural'' theme of “building above” that both the facilities try to interpreter. In this way, in fact, the buildings, suspended on the archaeological excavations, are able to establish a new relationship between ruins and the city in a new vision for the urban archaeological project.

Keywords: urban archaeology, archaeological project, ancient centre of Naples.
Inserito il 11/11/2015 16:50 - Leggi tutto »

Mario Roberto Alvarez: alla ricerca del Moderno
The work of Argentinean architect Mario Roberto Alvarez in his very numerous and varied production tackling a variety of issues represents a remarkable example of integrity and rigor within the complex history of the Latin American Modern architecture of the last century. The essay in outlining his training and his debut focuses on the analysis of three of his works that testify the value of his research based on reduction to a few basic principles in a strict relationship between the technical forms and architectural ones.
Inserito il 26/02/2014 10:04 - Leggi tutto »

Ling-Gang new city in Cina
The paper describes a project research aimed at defining tools and methodologies for the design of contemporary metropolises in contexts like China is, characterized by a recent and speed development in economics. The effort is to avoid the production of globalized images and re-introduce the idea of an urban fabric able to give urban quality to the places. At the scale of the residence, the typological mixitè is the tool to avoid the production of a alienating city while the architectural normative can guarantee the urban design capacity in in all the different linguistic expressions.

Inserito il 26/06/2013 19:45 - Leggi tutto »

Aldo Rossi had two main ways to relate to architecture: one was constructed through the process of knowledge and the other one through the process of imagination. Those two ways are captured and synthesized in a couple of definitely antithetical projects: San Cataldo cemetery in Modena and Teatro del Mondo in Venice. San Cataldo Cemetery is an analog city for the dead, displaying the process deducted from the observation of the architecture of the city, that is where all his interests and feelings are condensed. The theatre in Venice, on the opposite, is the objectification in image of the idea of city, an architectural object capable of retaining in its inside the iconography and the spirit of the city of Venice.

Inserito il 02/07/2012 14:53 - Leggi tutto »

In the words of its designer, Agostino Renna, the settlement unit for 20.000 inhabitants of Monteruscello is «a wider new part of the city». The control of the architectural composition of the whole design has been conceived by the tracing plans. But at the architectural form Renna has arrived through the mounting of different urban elements and figures, far one another in time and space. Unifying them is their own belonging to architectural tradition, ancient or modern, anyway rational.

Keywords: Renna, Monteruscello, rational

Inserito il 26/06/2012 15:14 - Leggi tutto »

The city of Seville has become a complex relationship metapolis of mobility and function; this does not alter the fact that there are pockets of urban life enriched by his own physical condition and lifestyle. The case of the Macarena is especially interesting because it contains two realities of identity, on the one hand, the brand image produced by the powerful religious and folk tradition, projecting its image globally, and on the other hand the local culture, whose identity is directly defined by a physical medium (plot) and a dense social fabric adapted to a lifestyle somewhere between the customs of traditional and new forms of life that retrieve such traditions. The aim of this study leads us to approach the protection of intangible heritage through the protection of tangible heritage

Keywords: intangible heritage, public space, identity
Inserito il 30/04/2012 12:34 - Leggi tutto »

La Mostra delle Terre Italiane d'Oltremare
The complex of the Mostra delle Terre Italiane d'Oltremare built in Naples in 1940 represents a real 'case' within the season of Italian architecture characterized by an opposition of different stylistic options (Rationalism, Novecento, Eclecticism, Historicism, Littorio) within the wider context of the rhetoric of the fascism. The complex provides clear relationships with the built city and with nature, using a matrix system of tracks taken from the tradition of the Italian city. Its recent application to the protected site UNESCO list, requires a particular attention to the mode of action on this important architectural and urban heritage.

Inserito il 10/04/2012 07:36 - Leggi tutto »

Dalla casa a patio ai tipi urbani del Foro e dell'Acropoli
The essay examines some of the James Stirling's projects and it tries to overcome the traditional location of his work in the field of the postmodern. The thesis is that James Stirling, in drawing on a repertoire of exempla from the European architectural tradition and in referring to the urban typologies of forum and acropolis for the construction of public urban spaces, is, despite his specificity, a rational architect.

James Stirling – architectural composition – urban typologies

Inserito il 25/01/2012 08:13 - Leggi tutto »

I progetti di Egle Trincanato
Egle Trincanato's plans for buildings in the centre of Venice

The only well-known design to have been produced by Egle Trincanato and Giuseppe Samonà was the 1952 plan for the INAIL building at San Simeone in the centre of Venice. In 1960 their work was reviewed by Vittorio Gregotti in Casabella magazine and is generally considered to be one of very few masterly examples of contemporary architecture to be built in Venice during the second half of the twentieth century. The architects Samonà and Trincanato also designed at least four other buildings for the centre of Venice, which were never built. Meanwhile, Trincanato alone was responsible for three designs, two for hotels and one for a private house: these include a rationalist design for the Bauer Hotel and a plan inspired by the work of Wright for the Danieli Hotel.
Inserito il 18/05/2010 06:18 - Leggi tutto »

Architettura e Città, Storia e Progetto
Il testo indaga la questione del rapporto tra Storia e Progetto nel pensiero di Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Giuseppe Samonà e Ludovico Quaroni proponendo la teoria della Architettura della Città aldorossiano come momento di sintesi di quanto elaborato dalle Scuole di Milano, Venezia e Roma. La tesi finale è che quella Teoria possa/debba ancora oggi dare importanti indicazioni per guidare i progettisti nella costruzione della città contemporanea nel rispetto della tradizione.

Inserito il 27/07/2009 15:14 - Leggi tutto »

Oswald Mathias Ungers e l'Italia
Il testo è una ipotesi di ricostruzione del singolare rapporto tra O.M.Ungers e l'Italia a partire dalla prima apparizione del Maestro tedesco nel numero 244 di Casabella nel 1960 - in un saggio e firmato da Aldo Rossi - fino alla consacrazione segnata dalla Mostra sulla sua opera nella Basilica palladiana di Vicenza e dalla laurea ad honorem a Cesena. Momento chiave di questo rapporto è la XV Triennale di Milano del 1973 nella quale si consolida, da parte di Ungers come di molti altri protagonisti della architettura internazionale, l'adesione al progetto unico della architettura razionale.

Inserito il 24/07/2009 15:30 - Leggi tutto »

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