Unexpected Irrational Side of Aldo Rossi

—– by: lunaviola

Wait…a minute! What do you mean “unexpected irrational”? Sorry, then let’s rewind the tape and restart from the overture: Who is the rational Aldo Rossi?

Well, Aldo Ross is the first Italian who won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1990 (until now only Renzo Piano peered him after 8 years as the only other Italian in the whole history of Pritzker), founder and leading innovator of the neoRATIONALISM, known for works of monumental simplicity and power, combining unabashedly grand forms with the most reductive geometric shapes; His signature gestures of the cone, the cylinder and the square endlessly recombine with colonnades, windows at unexpected scales and towers might have seemed coldly mechanical if it were not for his skill at manipulating the rhythms of shadows and light.

His icon design Cupola for Alessi perfectly reshapes the roof top of a church in a cafe pot.

For Aldo Rossi, the Cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena was pivotal in his career as an architect who was obsessed with the combination of disparate parts. Seemingly endless colonnades with a gabled roof surround the simple cube of an ossuary. ‘ ‘I saw the structure of the body as a series of fractures to be reassembled,” he later wrote in A Scientific Autobiography.

This sketch design of Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova perfectly illustrates the rational side of Aldo Rossi.

Here’s last example with Teatro del Mondo, an installation presented in 1979 Biennale of Venice, remains until today one of the most evocative projects in the work of Aldo Rossi.

With this ultimate rationalist impression of Aldo Rossi in mind, it was just an absolute shock, even in an extremely pleasant way, entering in the Milano Design Film Festival for the documentary film Ornamento e delitto (Ornament and Crime). Franco Raggi, one of protagonists featured in the film, tried in every means to discourage the expectations of the audience in the pre-talk. In 1973, Aldo Rossi decided to make a film 2 months before his curated exhibition Rational Architecture in XV Triennale of Milan. What’s the relationship of these two? Franco tried to explain, while didn’t explain anything substantial. But there’s simply nothing to be explained.

Typically in Wong Kar-wai style, ready the camera and action! But to shoot what? No idea. Let’s just start and we’ll see how it goes…… Then eventually we see a montage and collage of various film episodes, with or without sense but beautiful as they are, randomly symphonized with Aldo’s narrations of his architectural concepts. “Unlike lyrical operas that the pleasure is limited to the artists themselves, home is not a game only to owner and the architectural designer, but has to please everyone”. I believe by home (“casa” as said in the film in Italian original language), Aldo Rossi means by far architecture in its broader sense, conveying his idea of the social responsibilities that lie on the shoulders of the architecture and architects.

The film could remind you everything but the word “rationalism”. The Pritzker Prize judge had every reason when saying something like “But Aldo Rossi is a poet who happens to be also an architect”.

Here’s just a proof with a simple drawing painted by Aldo Rossi to demonstrate the poetic spirit of the architect.

When the film ends with black and white “FINE” on screen, you may leave the cinema with a smile commenting: Emmm, very…..interesting!

Milano Design Film Festival is still on for this whole weekend. Stay tuned for more….. interesting things!