ChapterPDF Available

The immediacy of urban reality in post-war Italy: Between neorealism’s and Tendenza’s instrumentalization of ugliness

Authors:
iii
Architecture
and Ugliness
Anti-Aesthetics and the
Ugly in Postmodern
Architecture
Edited by
WOUTER VAN ACKER
AND THOMAS MICAL
9781350068230_pi-278.indd iii9781350068230_pi-278.indd iii 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
i
v
BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK
1385 Broadway, NewYork, NY 10018, USA
BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS and the Diana logo are trademarks
of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
First published in Great Britain 2020
Selection and editorial matter © Wouter Van Acker and Thomas Mical, 2020
Individual chapters © their authors, 2020
Wouter Van Acker and Thomas Mical have asserted their right under the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identifi ed as Editors of this work.
Cover design:Eleanor Rose
Cover image © TBC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval
system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers.
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any
third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this
book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any
inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can
accept no responsibility for any such changes.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN:HB:978-1-3500-6823-0
ePDF:978-1-3500-6824-7
eBook:978-1-3500-6825-4
Typeset by Newgen KnowledgeWorks Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, India
Printed and bound in India
To fi nd out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com
and sign up for our newsletters.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd iv9781350068230_pi-278.indd iv 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
v
CONTENTS
List of Figures viii
List of Contributors xii
Inroduction: Retracing the ugly and the anti-aesthetic as a productive
force in postmodern architecture 1
Wouter Van Acker
1 Ugliness, the anti-aesthetic and appropriation:With some remarks on
the architecture of ARM 19
John Macarthur
2 On ugliness (in architecture) 39
Bart Verschaffel
PART ONE Ugly and monstrous 57
3 Instrumentalizing ugliness:Parallels between High Victorian and
Brutalist architecture 59
Timothy M.Rohan
4 Monstrous becomings:A minor cartography 77
Heidi Sohn
5 Traces of ugliness in Bo ll’s Les espaces d’Abraxas 95
Thomas Mical
9781350068230_pi-278.indd v9781350068230_pi-278.indd v 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
CONTENTS
vi
v
i
6 Post-communism and the monstrous:Skopje 2014 and other political
tales 107
Mirjana Lozanovska
7 Here be monsters 125
Andrew Leach
8 To make monsters 137
Caroline O’Donnell
PART TWO Ugly and ordinary 151
9 ‘Ugly’:The architecture of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott
Brown 153
Deborah Fausch
10 Camp ugliness:The case of Charles W.Moore 175
Patricia A.Morton
11 Architecture in El Alto:The politics of excess 193
Elisabetta Andreoli
12 The critical kitsch of Alchimia and Memphis:Design by media 209
AnnMarie Brennan
13 The immediacy of urban reality in post-war Italy:Between
neo-realism’s and Tendenza’s instrumentalization of ugliness 223
Marianna Charitonidou
9781350068230_pi-278.indd vi9781350068230_pi-278.indd vi 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
CONTENTS vii
v
ii
14 Ugliness as aesthetic friction:Renewing architecture against the
grain 245
Lara Schrijver
15 Ugliness, or the cathectic moment of modulation between terror and
the comic in postmodern architecture 257
Wouter Van Acker
Index 279
9781350068230_pi-278.indd vii9781350068230_pi-278.indd vii 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
v
iii
FIGURES
I.1 Table of comparison between Venturi and Rauch’s Guild House and
Paul Rudolph’s brutalist Crawford Manor from Learning from Las
Vegas (1972). Venturi, Robert, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour,
Learning From Las Vegas, revised edition, Table, page102, © 1977
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by permission of the MIT
Press. 4
1.1 Ashton Raggett McDougall (ARM)’s design of a black Villa Savoye
for Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
(AIATSIS), 2001. Photograph by John Gollings. 29
1.2 ARM, St Kilda Town Hall interior (1994). Photo courtesy of ARM
Architecture. 30
3.1 William Butter eld, Keble College Chapel, Oxford (1873–6).
Wikimedia Commons. Photo by David Iliff. License:CC-BY-SA
3.0. 60
3.2 Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles, Boston City Hall (1962–8). Photo
by Timothy M.Rohan. 66
5.1 Ricardo Bo ll, Les espaces d’Abraxas, Paris, 1983. Photography by
Fred Romero. 96
6.1 The Telecommunications Centre by Janko Konstantinov, 1974–79.
Overlooking the Vardar River, its three components– a horizontal slab
of ce building, a tower with concrete cylindrical services, and the post
of ce– present a raw, tough structural expressionism at a large scale,
which characterizes Skopje brutalism. The circular post of ce (shown)
was damaged by a re in 2013 that destroyed the interior, the cubist
9781350068230_pi-278.indd viii9781350068230_pi-278.indd viii 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
FIGURES ix
i
x
murals of acclaimed post-cubist painter Borko Lazevski and retro
d é cor. Photograph by Mirjana Lozanovska, Skopje 2013. 110
6.2 Map of the implementation of Skopje 2014, illustrating the
‘masking’ strategy of thin architectural interventions on the north
bank of the Vardar River. These numbered interventions are as
follows:1. Macedonian National Theatre, 2.Museum of the
Macedonian Struggle, 3.Stone Bridge, 4.Archaeological Museum
of Macedonia, 5.The Bridge of Civilizations, 6.Agency for
Electronic Communications, 7.Colonnade of Mother Teresa Square,
8.Macedonian Opera & Ballet, 9.Public Prosecutor’s Of ce of
the Republic of Macedonia, 10. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Image
reconstruction by Ali Rahimi. Photographs by Mirjana Lozanovska.
Google Earth– Mage © 2018 Digital Globe. 114
6.3 The Macedonian Opera and Ballet, 1979, architects Š tefan Kacin,
Jurij Princes, Bogdan Spindler and Marijan Ur š i č . The building,
photographed in 2007, is in a neglected state; the new Skopje 2014
ornamental insertions mask it from view . Photograph by Mirjana
Lozanovska, Skopje 2007. 117
7.1 Antonio Fantuzzi, after Rosso Fiorentino, The Enlightenment of
Francis I, c .1542 Etching, 30.9 × 42.6cm. © Trustees of the British
Museum. 126
7.2 Proteus-Glaucus, Sacro Bosco, Bomarzo. Gardens designed by Pirro
Ligorio, c . 1551–2. Photograph by Andrew Leach. 127
8.1 James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates, Neue Staatsgalerie,
Stuttgart, 1977–84. Redrawn with site by CODA. 140
8.2 Bloodline, CODA, 2010. Above:1:10 model and 1:1 mock-up
presented in ‘Self-Consuming’ an exhibition at Tjaden Experimental
Gallery, Cornell, supported by the CCA and the College of
Architecture, Art, and Planning, as well as by Akademie Schloss
Solitude and Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown. Photographs by CODA. 144
9781350068230_pi-278.indd ix9781350068230_pi-278.indd ix 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
FIGURES
x
x
8.3 Party Wall, MoMA/PS1 Young Architects’ Program, CODA, 2013.
View from dance oor. Photograph by Brent Solomon. 145
8.4 Urchin, CODA, 2016. Photograph by Joe Wilensky. 146
9.1 Venturi and Short, North Penn Visiting Nurse Association
Headquarters, 1961, Ambler, Pennsylvania. Photograph by George
Pohl, provided by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. 160
9.2 Venturi and Rauch, Brighton Beach Housing Competition, 1967,
Brooklyn, NewYork, site model. Photograph provided by Venturi,
Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. 161
9.3 Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown, Gordon Wu Hall, 1982, Princeton
University, Princeton, New Jersey. Photograph by Tom Bernard,
provided by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. 166
9.4 Wu Hall, entry and keystones. Photograph by Tom Bernard, provided
by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. 167
10.1 Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker/Moore–Turnbull, Sea Ranch
Athletic Club #1, Sea Ranch, California, 1966, interior of locker
room with supergraphics by Barbara Stauffacher. Courtesy
author. 182
10.2 Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker/Moore–Turnbull, Charles Moore
House, New Haven, Connecticut, 1966, rear facade. House and
Garden , 133, no.1 [January1968]:110. Courtesy John T.Hill. 184
10.3 Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker/Moore–Turnbull, Charles Moore
House, New Haven, Connecticut, 1966, ‘Ethel’ at the kitchen.
House and Garden , 133, no.1 [January1968]:115. Courtesy John
T.Hill. 185
11.1 Freddy Mamani Silvestre, El Tren Diamante, El Alto, Bolivia. Photo
by Alfredo Zeballos. 194
12.1 Nathalie Du Pasquier, ‘Interior’, Drawing, 1982–3. 210
12.2 Alessandro Mendini, ‘Kandissi’ sofa, Alchimia 1979. ©Atelier
Mendini. 216
9781350068230_pi-278.indd x9781350068230_pi-278.indd x 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
FIGURES xi
x
i
13.1 a and b Torre Velasca (1950–8) by Ludovico Belgiojoso, Enrico
Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (BBPR). Photo by Marianna
Charitonidou, 13 June 2018. 229
13.2 Plan of the Tiburtino district, Rome, 1949–54. The main architects
of the project were Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridol . Other
architects who worked on this project were Carlo Aymonino, Mario
Fiorentino, Federico Gorio, Maurizio Lanza, Piero Maria Lugli,
Giulio Rinaldi, Michele Valori, Carlo Aymonino, Carlo Chiarini,
Sergio Lenci, Carlo Melograni, Gian Carlo Menichetti and Volfango
Frankl. Credit: Associazione archivio storico Olivetti, Fondo Quaroni
Ludovico, Serie Progetti e corrispondenza, fasc. 130 235
13.3 Mario Ridol and others, Quartiere Ina-Casa Tiburtino a Roma.
Lotto B, case con ballatoio, riproduzione fotogra ca. Courtesy
Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Roma. Archivio del Moderno
e del Contemporaneo, Fondo Ridol -Frankl-Malagricci, www.
fondoridol .org 236
15.1 Robin Boyd, cover of The Australian Ugliness , 1960. © Estate of
Robin Boyd, courtesy Robin Boyd Foundation. 259
15.2 Sebastiano Serlio, The Comic Scene, from Sebastiano Serlio, The First
[-Fift] Booke of Architecture (1475–1554; London:Stafford, Simon,
1630), scanned from Columbia University Libraries. 263
15.3 Peter Corrigan, House for Mr and Mrs Kevin McCarthy, Melbourne,
built in 1967; compared to Robert Venturi’s house for his mother,
Philadelphia, 1963. Originally published in Architecture in Australia
February 1972. 266
15.4 Edmond & Corrigan, Building 8, RMIT University, Melbourne,
Victoria (1990–4). Photograph by John Gollings, courtesy of Gollings
Photography Pty Ltd. 268
9781350068230_pi-278.indd xi9781350068230_pi-278.indd xi 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
x
ii
CONTRIBUTORS
Elisabetta Andreoli is an architectural and art historian and documentary
maker. She organized the Lina Bo Bardi exhibition at the Royal Institute
of British Architecture in 1994. Together with Adrian Forty she co-edited
Brazil’s Modern Architecture (2005). She published Bolivia Contemporanea
(2012) and The Architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre (2014).
AnnMarie Brennan is Senior Lecturer of Design Theory in the Faculty of
Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. She
teaches architectural history, theory and design studio subjects and her
research focuses on twentieth- and twenty- rst-century architecture, with
interests in the political economy of design, machine culture, Italian design,
the history of computing and media and architecture.
Marianna Charitonidou is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the
History and Theory of Architecture (gta) ETH Z ü rich, National Technical
University of Athens and Athens School of Fine Arts, and Lecturer at the
University of Ioannina. She is currently editing her PhD dissertation focus-
ing on the transformations of architectural epistemology in the twentieth
century into a book.
Deborah Fausch is an architect and architectural historian and theorist
whose writings on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism,
and especially the works of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, have
appeared in many journals and essay collections.
Andrew Leach is Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney
School of Architecture, Design and Planning, where he is also Associate
Dean, Research. He writes on contemporary issues in the elds of architec-
tural history, theory and criticism. Among his books are Manfredo Tafuri
(2007), What Is Architectural History? (2010) and Rome (2017).
Mirjana Lozanovska is Associate Professor at Deakin University. Her
research deploys multidisciplinary theories of space to examine migra-
tion, mobility, and exchange in architecture and the city. Her books
include Migrant Housing:Architecture, Dwelling, Migration (2019) and
9781350068230_pi-278.indd xii9781350068230_pi-278.indd xii 27-Aug-19 19:47:4227-Aug-19 19:47:42
223
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The immediacy of urban reality
in post-war Italy:Between
neorealism’s and Tendenza’s
instrumentalization of ugliness
Marianna Charitonidou
Ugliness was used as a productive category in post-war Italian architecture.
This chapter unfolds the debate among protagonists of Tendenza (Ernesto
Nathan Rogers and Aldo Rossi) and neorealist architecture (Ludovico
Quaroni and Mario Ridol ) about the notion of ugliness in Italian cit-
ies after the Second World War, aesthetic views informed by the post-war
urban reality. Rogers, Rossi, Ridol and Quaroni believed that post-war
(sub)urbanization contributed to the ‘ugli cation’ of cities. An analysis of
the design of the Torre Velasca project (1950–8) by Ludovico Belgiojoso,
Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (BBPR), and the develop-
ment of the Tiburtino district (1949–54) by Ludovico Quaroni and Mario
Ridol , in collaboration with certain young Roman architects, such as
Carlo Aymonino, reveals how the anti-aesthetic and anti-elitist stance of
Tendenza and neorealist architects was applied. The essay thus sheds light
on the shared intention of Tendenza and neorealist architects to reformu-
late the ways in which we judge architecture. They theorized and built new
models for urban expansion, and with these models established new criteria
for evaluating urban aesthetics that took into consideration the struggle for
social reconstruction characteristic of post-war Italian cities. The emergence
of such new models by which to evaluate the aesthetics of a city is inter-
preted as a symptom of the debate regarding the reconstruction of the city’s
identity after 1945.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2239781350068230_pi-278.indd 223 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
224
224
Tendenza’ architecture and the interpretation
of forms as autonomous constructions
Aldo Rossi rst employed the term ‘Tendenza’ to refer to rationalist architec-
ture in 1969, in the introduction to the second Italian edition of L’architettura
della citt à , and again in ‘L’architettura della ragione come architettura
di Tendenza’, an essay in the catalogue of the exhibition Illuminismo e
architettura del ‘700 veneto.
1
He used it as a category of architecture to
help visualize a connection with realist architecture while remaining close to
the intentions of rationalism. It allowed him to both challenge the concept
of the avant-garde and reject utopianism. In addition, the desire for style
accompanies the concept of Tendenza, which allowed an interpretation of
forms as autonomous constructions. Rossi’s main intention was to grasp the
interrelation between pure speculation on gurationmodernism’s ‘utopian
minimalism’and the research on existing forms of architecture, or the
‘sprawling “reality” of history’.
While Rossi’s de nition most clearly expresses what Tendenza architec-
ture meant, he was not the rst to use the term, and others before him
and after used the term in slightly different ways. In 1946, Ernesto Nathan
Rogers rst employed the term in his essay ‘Elogio della tendenza’,
2
again
in 1957 in the essay ‘Ortodossia dell’eterodossia’ and in 1958 in Esperienza
dell’architettura . In ‘Ortodossia dell’eterodossia’, he, unlike Rossi, distin-
guishes the concept of Tendenza from style and coherence, de ning it as ‘an
act of modesty that integrates the activity of each individual into the culture
of their own epoch, inviting them to consider themselves as part of society
before anything else’.
3
Massimo Scolari, in his text for the catalogue of the XV Triennale di
Milano Architettura razionale (1973), writes that for Tendenza (by this
stage not just a theory but a movement),
architecture is a cognitive process that in and of itself is today necessitat-
ing a re-founding of the discipline in the acknowledgement of its own
autonomy. This means architecture refuses interdisciplinary solutions to
its own crisis; that it does not pursue and immerse itself in political, eco-
nomic, social, and technological events only to mask its own creative and
formal sterility, but rather desires to understand them so as to be able to
intervene in them with lucidity.
4
The central point where Tendenza theory diverges from modernism, accord-
ing to Scolari, is the attraction of the former to history as a series of events
that he called a ‘pile of simulacra’.
5
Meanwhile, Guido Canella, in ‘Relazioni
tra morfologia, tipologia dell’organismo architettonico e ambiente sico’,
talks about the attention Tendenza architects paid to the pedagogical
potential of a ‘utopia of reality’. Despite the heterogeneity of the different
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2249781350068230_pi-278.indd 224 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 225
225
protagonists of Tendenza, they all shared an understanding of ‘architecture
as a cognitive problem, whether speci cally as the “conscious call to the
city on the part of the most recent modern architecture” (Canella) or as an
autobiographical or personal matter (Rossi)’.
6
Rogers’s temporally driven aesthetic approach relied on the concepts of
continuity, of ‘sensing history’, drawing on his encounter with Enzo Paci’s
phenomenological approach. Paci, meanwhile, believed society should not
be ‘theorized or ideologized or structured beforehand according to the per-
spectives of a given sociology’; instead, architects should ‘make alive and
real the social relationships of … [their] country, with its needs and miseries,
with its illusions and hard sense of reality, of the limits and conditions of
life’. Paci was convinced that, to achieve an engaged view, it is indispensable
to ‘see the things the way they are’.
7
In his Diario fenomenologico , he de nes
phenomenon as something that appears and can then be faithfully described
without judgement, even though we may not see it for exactly what it is.
8
In
turn, Rogers’s view in ‘The Image:The Architect’s Inalienable Vision’
9
was
that architects should balance utility with beauty.
Neorealist ugliness and the
recuperation of reality
One of the aims of this essay is to explore the differences between the
conception of ugliness in neorationalist architecture and that in neorealist
architecture. The term ‘neo-realism’ is associated, on the one hand, with
the project of reformulating Italy’s identity in the period immediately after
the Second World War and, on the other hand, with the recuperation of the
immediacy of reality. Gilles Deleuze, in Cinema 2:The Time-Image , relates
the emergence of the action-image in post-war cinema to a historical cae-
sura, caused by war, that rendered reality unpresentable.
10
In a similar way,
the tendency of post-war Italian architects to respond to a city’s ugliness,
liberated from aesthetical preconceptions, could be interpreted as attempts
to incorporate, in architectural epistemology, the ‘unpresentability’ of post-
war urban reality within the context of an uncontrolled expansion of the
urban fabric.
The adjective ‘neorealist’ connotes an anti-abstract attitude. Scolari, in
Avanguardia e nuova architettura’, describes neorealism as anti-avant-
garde, implying that the avant-garde tends towards abstraction rather than
attempts to convey life as it really is. Given that crudeness is on the same
end of the spectrum as ugliness, the distinction between crudeness and aes-
thetic re nement that Andr é Bazin, a major theorist of neorealism in cinema,
makes could help us better understand the ‘instant effectiveness of a realism
which is satis ed to only present reality’.
11
The encounter of spectators with
this unresolved opposition, he says, pushes their perception to embrace the
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2259781350068230_pi-278.indd 225 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
226
226
enlightening power of the post-war situation. Bruno Reichlin nds that neo-
realism has a ‘propensity for an aesthetic of the ugly’.
12
According to Bazin,
‘t he originality of Italian Neorealism as compared with the chief schools of
realism that preceded it and with the Soviet cinema, lies in never making
reality the servant of some a priori point of view’.
13
Neorealist architecture,
as a ‘collective and timeless mode to building’,
14
was related to Antonio
Gramsci’s invitation to formulate ‘a new way of feeling and of seeing real-
ity’.
15
The tension between Gramsci’s call to shape new ways of conceiving
reality and Paci’s call to ‘see the things the way they are’
16
is symptomatic
of the schism between two opposed ways of understanding neorealism:one
puts forward its social content and one is focused on formal aesthetic cri-
teria. Bazin, who was an exponent of the second tendency, was convinced
that neorealism ‘was a matter of a new form of reality’. Paci, an exponent
of the ‘Milan phenomenological school’ founded by Antonio Ban , shared
with Gramsci the insistence on the ‘subjective’ and ‘humanistic’ character of
historical materialism.
Neorealist architecture was a product of the ‘Roman school’, with pro-
tagonists Mario Ridol and Ludovico Quaroni, both participants of the
Associazione per l’architettura organica (APAO), founded by Bruno Zevi in
1944. Zevi believed that Modern architecture’s liberation from rigid func-
tionalism would permit humanism and democracy to serve as liberating
forces in post-war Italian society; politics plays a role in architecture and is
thus a feature of neorealist architecture. This concern about architecture’s
political connotations was shared by proponents of organic architecture,
whose impetus was ‘social, technical and artistic activity directed towards
creating the climate for a new democratic civilisation’.
17
The neorealist approach should be understood within the context of
urban reconstruction in a new Italy after the Second World War. Maristella
Casciato identi es that ‘it was in the south that the new national architec-
tural language of Neorealism found its concrete expression’. The contrast
between southern and northern Italy is important for grasping the differ-
ences between neorealist and Tendenza architecture. The context par excel-
lence of neorealist architecture is Rome, while for Tendenza it is Milan.
Casciato explains that ‘Milanese architectural culture had maintained a sense
of the continuity of the modern movement and the rationalist European
experience’.
18
This can explain Rogers’s choice to give Casabella, which he
directed beginning in 1953, the subtitle ‘Continuit à ’.
Between neorealist and Tendenza architecture
Neorealist and Tendenza architecture are both characterized by an anti-
aesthetic and anti-elitist stance. Their points of convergence and of diver-
gence are insightful for recognizing what was at stake in post-war debates
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2269781350068230_pi-278.indd 226 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 227
227
around the notion of ugliness in relation to the question of morality in
architecture. The practitioners of both shared an interest in increasing
architects’ responsibility, in re-establishing the relationship between reality
and utopia and in critiquing the homogenized and impersonal functional-
ism of modernism. Manfredo Tafuri, in Progetto e utopia , nds an ‘inherent
opposition within all modern art … [between] those who search the very
bowels of reality in order to know and assimilate its values and wretched-
ness; and those who desire to go beyond reality, who want to construct ex
novo new realities, new values, and new public symbols’.
19
In ‘Architettura
e Realismo’ he poses the following questions regarding the relationship of
Italian post-war architectural culture with reality:How far did the archi-
tect’s ambition extend within the actual conditions so as to change reality
through the architectural project? Under what conditions did architecture
become relevant to post-war conditions? What formal aesthetic criteria and
tools did the intelligentsia invent to inscribe its practice in the process of
reconstruction in Italy of the mid-1940s?
20
While Tendenza architecture
and neorealist architecture shared the interpretation of the architectural
project as the very device of the architect-citizen by which to transform
actual conditions, neorealist architecture went further and developed an
architectural language based on a set of mimetic devices. Neorealism’s
paradox lies in this double vocation to imitate and also reinvent points of
reference of Italy’s cultural identity.
Torre Velasca and La torre di Babele
The Torre Velasca in Milan, completed in 1958 by the Tendenza studio BBPR
(founded in 1932 by Gian Luigi Ban , Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso,
Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto Nathan Rogers), is a case study for re ecting
on Tendenza’s aesthetic theory ( Figures13.1a and 13.1b ). Given that it pro-
voked several negative reactions and has been often characterized as ugly,
its examination illuminates Tendenza’s stance towards ugliness. Its height of
ninety-nine metres and its embodiment of certain forms found in medieval
architecture provoked a great deal of criticism. The year it was completed,
the French journal L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui regarded it as an effect of
the Italian appreciation for ‘ugliness, baroque in ammation, exaggeration,
false originality, the strange, and the bizarre’.
21
Casabella responded to this
critque’s ironic title, ‘Casabella … casus belli?’, with a text prefaced by the
equally caustic title ‘Si vis pacem demain … para bellum … aujourd’hui’.
22
Reyner Banham, who had enthusiastically defended the Smithsons’ aesthetic
view in 1959, further attacked Rogers’s approach, labelling it ‘Neoliberty’.
23
Rogers presented the Torre Velasca project at the Congr è s Internationaux
d'Architecture Moderne or International Congresses of Modern Architecture
(CIAM) in Otterlo in 1959, where he explained how the ‘preesistenze
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2279781350068230_pi-278.indd 227 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
228
228
FIGURE13.1a
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2289781350068230_pi-278.indd 228 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 229
229
FIGURE13.1b a and b Torre Velasca (1950–8) by Ludovico Belgiojoso, Enrico
Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (BBPR). Photo by Marianna Charitonidou,
13 June 2018.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2299781350068230_pi-278.indd 229 28-Sep-19 18:01:3328-Sep-19 18:01:33
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
230
230
ambientali’ was central for this project. Embodying cultural values with-
out literally imitating past forms was BBPR’s goal. Rogers said that Torre
Velasca’s design strategy was ‘to epitomize, culturally speaking– while
avoiding repetition of the expressive language used in any of its buildings
the atmosphere of the city of Milan, its ineffable yet perceptible character’.
24
He maintained that the objective was to convey ‘the essence of history’
and to ‘breathe the atmosphere of the place and even intensify it’,
25
and to
oppose the tabula rasa logic of modernism by using contemporary technol-
ogy– reinforced concrete– and assimilating urban history.
Despite the af nity of Rogers’s views with the attention that Team X paid
to signi cance of the moral aspect of architecture,
26
two Team X members,
Peter Smithson and Jaap Bakema, sharply criticized the Torre Velasca when
it was presented at the Otterlo conference. They perceived a contradiction
between its indisputable contrast with the urban fabric and Rogers’s con-
viction that it was a paradigmatic expression of urban coherence and the
continuity of certain emblematic architectural forms in Milan, such as the
Duomo. Smithson argued that the project was aesthetically and ethically
misguided and could have dangerous consequences; it was ‘a bad model to
give because there are things that can be so easily distorted and become not
only ethically wrong but aesthetically wrong’.
27
He accused Rogers of not
being aware of his position in the society.
Ironically, Rogers, an emblematic Tendenza theorist and architect, speci -
cally invited architects to understand their ‘responsibilities towards tradi-
tion’;
28
they were shaping an aesthetic view based on the understanding of
tradition as ‘life-world’, as he wrote in 1954. The notion of responsibility
was also central for Quaroni, who, as a representative architect and urban
planner of the so-called neorealist architecture, believed that the architects
should embrace the task of urban design. In 1956, he explored how archi-
tects could play a role in the formation of society in his keynote lecture ‘The
Architect and Town Planning’ at the CIAM International Summer School,
held at the Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia (IUAV). In 1979,
he expanded further on the topic, bemoaning how ‘today, skilful architects
console themselves by designing “their” architecture, and leave others the
responsibility for a city’. He maintained instead that it is the architect’s
responsibility to re ect on the city’s future and shape it. Cities had become
‘too anonymous, too ugly, too inef cient’, he said, because architects were
doing nothing to change this situation, and left ‘political friends [and]
city planning cousins’
29
to decide both their own future and those of archi-
tects and the rest of society. When architects lose their sense of responsibility
for urban transformation, he said, the result is an ugly city.
The Torre Velasca project embodied BBPR’s intent to transcribe through
architectural composition a given culture’s characteristics without imitat-
ing an existing visual language. This intent recalls the neorealist approach,
which also aimed to invent an architectural language, based on cultural
points of reference; Quaroni and Rogers were thus prompted to reinvent the
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2309781350068230_pi-278.indd 230 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 231
231
relationship between utopia and reality. Quaroni’s approach is characterized
by a belief in the potential of imaginary reality to revitalize urban design. In
La torre di Babele , he expressed his belief ‘in the creative value of utopia
of an imaginary reality … which holds the seeds for revitalizing a pro-
cess like urban planning that has lost its capacity for energetic response’.
30
Quaroni’s conception of utopia’s creative force as imaginary reality, capable
of revitalizing urban planning processes, brings to mind Rogers’s under-
standing of the ‘utopia of reality’ as a ‘teleological charge that projects the
present into the possible future’. For Rogers, the very potential of the ‘utopia
of reality’ lay in the fact that ‘its forms are still unrealizable’. Rogers believed
that utopia had the capacity ‘to transform reality in its deepest essence, in
the moral and political, as well as in the didactic and pedagogical elds’.
31
The existential aspects of his perception of architecture’s ‘experience’ draw
on Paci’s phenomenological perspective, who associated the problem of ‘the
heart of the city’, the main theme of 1951 CIAM’s congress, with the neces-
sity of a ‘synthesis of permanence and emergence’.
32
The ‘citt à meravigliosa’
of Quaroni, the neorealist, and the ‘citt à analoga’ of Rossi, the Tendenza
theorist and architect, share the intent to transform the unrealized forms
of the ‘utopia of reality’ into tangible and vital expressions of urban reality,
where architecture is liberated from the conventional dichotomies of ugly/
beautiful, ordered/diffused, rational/irrational. The means to realize this is
to embrace a close understanding of reality as it is, without preconceptions
about a city’s vitality. To both Quaroni and Rossi, it is the grasp of this
reality in its immediacy on which architectural praxis should be based, in
particular the existing conditions of the urban fabric. Quaroni’s intention
to take as the starting point of his architectural design strategies the exist-
ing conditions was conceptualized through the notion of ‘qualit à diffusa’,
an expression of his rejection of the grand gestures of design and planning.
The critique of modernist functionalism and the reformulation of the
models for judging the aesthetics of architecture and cities can be inter-
preted here as expressions of an epistemological shift in which the modern-
ist universal user is replaced by the post-war hybrid, or pluralist, engaged
user, an activator of change. For instance, both Quaroni and Rossi criticized
modernist functionalism for being reductive, na i ve and homogenizing. To
Quaroni, ‘function cannot be determined by means of mere square or cubic
meters, since it is a compound of physical, special, psychological, moral
factors’.
33
In La torre di Babele , Quaroni argues that ‘the modern city is really ugly’
and that the neglected lesson of historic cities is the well-integrated synthe-
sis of function, technology and aesthetics. The quality of architectural and
urban artefacts depends on the extent to which this synthesis is based on
‘an immediate, direct, good-natured relationship’. Quaroni focuses on the
tension between the historic and the modern city, ascribing the historic city’s
beauty to its ‘clear design and structure’ and claiming that the modern
city was ugly because it was ‘chaotic’, a term he employs frequently in La
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2319781350068230_pi-278.indd 231 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
232
232
torre di Babele , which opens as follows:‘The architect tends by its nature,
and by professional deformation, to the total control of the city, as if it were
a single building. But the mythical Tower of Babel, you know, never came
to fruition.
34
Quaroni adopts Henry Miller’s de nition of confusion– ‘an
order that you do not understand’
35
to explain that the impossibility of
modern urban control was due to the incapacity of architects to understand
the order of post-war cities and their transformation and expansion.
The ugly and the poetics of non-fabulation
In contrast with Karl Rosenkranz’s thesis that ugliness is the active negation
of beauty,
36
Mark Cousins maintains that the ugly cannot be thought of as the
opposite of the beautiful and de nes ugly ‘as a matter of place’ and the ugly
object as an object which is experienced both as being there and as something
that should not be there’.
37
This sense of not belonging to ones place is similar
to Deleuze’s interpretation of neo-realism for cinema, as a profound stage of
confusion that had led to the loss of belief in this world. The Second World
War led to a post-war era characterized by ‘situations we no longer know
how to react to, in spaces we no longer know how to describe’.
38
This state of
confusion, according to Deleuze, is not negative but constitutes an opportunity
to invent new signs in cinema, as in the case of Federico Fellinis ‘deliberate
confusion of the real and the spectacle’.
39
This is valuable for architecture too.
Deleuze’s understanding of confusion can be compared to Quaroni’s concep-
tion of the confusion of post-war Italian cities and the need to invent architec-
tural and urban strategies that can respond to this confusion. Tafuri described
Quaroni’s compositional method as a ‘poetic of non-fabulation’.
40
This di stinc-
tion between a poetic of fabulation and a poetic of non-fabulation could help
us grasp the perceptual mechanisms of Quaroni’s design process.
Quaroni believed that the ugliness of modern cities could be avoided if
architects could nd ways to preserve and reinforce their role in the way
cities expand. The inability to comprehend the order of the contemporary
urban fabric is related to the perception that the modern city is ugly. He
considered that architects should not understand ugliness as a product of
forces that are external to their agency. Rather, they should try to reshape
their epistemological tools and their conceptual edi ce so that they can see
how to transform the pressures of economics and politics into parameters
that can be treated by architects and urban planners. He also thought that
the distinction between the agency of architects and that of urban planners
had to be dissolved, and that these different spheres of action and different
realms of responsibility had to be articulated, as the only means to formu-
late an engine for a new societal order. In Rossi’s introduction to La torre
di Babele , he writes that ‘Quaroni’s theory … revolves around … the funda-
mental question:What does it mean for us architects if the modern city is
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2329781350068230_pi-278.indd 232 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 233
233
ugly?’ Rossi claims, however, that Quaroni failed to recognize the modern
city’s potential beauty because he blamed modern architecture itself instead
of speculation and ignorance, the result of ‘an absurd mechanism which
operates on several different levels’.
41
Any mutation of the way ugliness is conceived implies a transformation
of the status of the relationship between object and subject.
42
In the case of
the beautiful, the relationship between object and subject is of a different
order than in the case of the ugly, in the sense that the spectator of beauti-
ful objects is disinterested while the spectator of ugly objects is engaged.
43
This distinction could shed light on how Quaroni replaced the bipolar rela-
tionship beautiful/ugly with that of vital/non-vital. Engagement and civic
responsibility were the means of upgrading the city’s ugliness to its very
vitality. At stake is not the â neur’s attitude of disinterest as an antidote to
the vitality of the urban dynamic, not the opposition between a hyper-alert
attitude and a disinterested one; rather, it is the suspension between engage-
ment and disinterest. The â neur, as conceived by both Charles Baudelaire
and Walter Benjamin, views urban reality through a ‘dissecting vision’.
44
In
neorealism, ‘there are always awareness and involvement’.
45
The kind of
engagement that neorealism seeks to activate is related to ‘social polemic’,
but not to propaganda.
To describe the viewer’s state of suspension caused by his understanding
of an object as part of both reality and ideality, Adam Fure employs the
concept of ‘in-between-ness “ugly” ’.
46
According to Gretchen Henderson,
a characteristic of ugliness, which is useful for grasping the nature of the
relationship between the observer and the architectural artefacts in both
Tendenza and neorealist architecture, is that it pushes and pulls ‘a viewer
towards alternative readings or connections of disparate parts’.
47
Because
of this simultaneous attraction and repulsion, the viewer cannot stay disin-
terested. The viewer’s imagination is activated in a different way when con-
fronted with the suspension of the synthesis of architectural forms, which
provokes an instantaneous immediacy in the perception of reality. Deleuze
explains how a speci c genre of cinematographic images provokes a fun-
damental disturbance of the visible and a suspension of one’s perception of
the world.
48
The effect of suspension caused by the sense of simultaneous attraction
and repulsion that an encounter with the city’s ‘ugliness’ can produce could
also be interpreted as the result of defamiliarization. According to Umberto
Eco, Bertolt Brecht’s works can function as ‘open’ because of the defamil-
iarization, or estrangement (‘verfremdung’), of the work from the beholder,
an estrangement caused by ‘the speci c concreteness of an ambiguity’ and
‘the con ict of unresolved problems’.
49
The way the aesthetics of the con-
crete is transformed into an instrument to access the immediacy of post-war
reality, in the case of neorealism, is also an effect of defamiliarization, in the
sense described by Eco. The subject is pushed to enter into a state in which
it is no longer possible to be disinterested. Such an interpretation can help
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2339781350068230_pi-278.indd 233 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
234
234
explain the engagement of post-war Italian architects in the reinvention of
conceptual tools that would reshape the ugly aspects of urban and subur-
ban formations. Immanuel Kant understands the impact of ugliness on the
subject as part of an act of liberation from the search for order, the capacity
of ugly artefacts to push ‘the freedom of the imagination almost to the point
of the grotesque’.
50
The ethics of aischros
A common preoccupation of both Tendenza and neorealism was the con-
cern for architecture’s moral dimension. In neorealism, what was at stake
was the moral dimension of ugliness. Iwould claim that the ambition to
counter the city’s ugliness is associated with overcoming an understand-
ing of ugliness in mere visual terms. That the problem of urban expansion
should be part of the architect’s task became a common demand of dif-
ferent post-war Italian approaches. The exigency to reshape the architect’s
practice in order to embrace and reinforce the architect’s responsibility for
controlling urbanization and suburbanization is the core of Quaroni’s point
of view. This comprehension of ugliness as an ethical and cultural question
brings to the fore Henderson’s question:‘Is ugliness a cultural quest?’
51
The neorealists believed that ugliness was a way to present the reality
of the post-war Italian city. They wanted to recuperate the immediacy of
reality, to instrumentalize and aestheticize urban ugliness, to transform ugly
features of the urban landscape into architectural instruments of social and
moral engagement, devices of re ection about how aesthetic criteria inter-
fere with the meaning one gives to reality. The very basis of neorealism was
the post-war identi cation of the aesthetics of the concrete with antifascist
ideology through the act of grasping that immediacy of reality. The inten-
tion to respond to a context dominated by the raw material of ‘[d] estroyed
cities, poverty, and a disintegrating social fabric’
52
was neorealism’s point of
departure. Such an understanding of the connection between ugliness and
reality is apparent in post-war Italian neorealist cinema, such as Roberto
Rossellini’s Roma citt à aperta (1945) and Vittorio de Sica’s Ladri di bici-
clette (1948).
That the connection of ugliness to morality was central for neorealist
architects becomes evident in the case of the Tiburtino district, designed by
Quaroni and Ridol and built between 1949 and 1954, which is often inter-
preted as a neorealist expression in architecture. For Quaroni and Ridol ,
building social housing in a suburban neighbourhood of post-war Rome
contributed to citizens’ moral engagement in the public sphere of urban life.
Aesthetic criteria had shifted to political, ethical, moral, social and civic cri-
teria. The morality inherent in aesthetic evaluation is apparent in Aristotle’s
Poetics, where the identi cation of something as aischros (ugly) has moral
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2349781350068230_pi-278.indd 234 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 235
235
as well as aesthetic implications.
53
Such a moral engagement is at the core
of Tafuri’s description of the Tiburtino district as a ‘manifesto of a state of
mind, of an impelling need to communicate, to build a reality together with
society and not simply for society’.
54
The project in the Tiburtino district, located along the Via Tiburtina that
in the late 1940s was part of the expanding periphery of the city, is typical of
the formal expression of neorealist architecture:no pre-established concept
of compositional unity here, but rather one obtained through the aggrega-
tion of successive elements and the obsessive fragmentation of walls and
fences ( Figure13.2 ). The project is characterized by the elaboration of for-
mal discontinuities, the rediscovery of the value of streets where people walk
and the surgical examination of the singularities of the visible world and
everyday life. Quaroni and Ridol treated the housing unit form as a canvas
on which to express the quotidian life of citizens. This treatment is evident
FIGURE13.2 Plan of the Tiburtino district, Rome, 1949–54. The main
architects of the project were Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridol . Other
architects who worked on this project were Carlo Aymonino, Mario Fiorentino,
Federico Gorio, Maurizio Lanza, Piero Maria Lugli, Giulio Rinaldi, Michele Valori,
Carlo Aymonino, Carlo Chiarini, Sergio Lenci, Carlo Melograni, Gian Carlo
Menichetti and Volfango Frankl. Credit:Associazione archivio storico Olivetti,
Fondo Quaroni Ludovico, Serie Progetti e corrispondenza, fasc. 130.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2359781350068230_pi-278.indd 235 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
236
236
in the photographs taken in the 1950s, where the movement of people on
the streets recalls the quotidian aspect of the urban context ( Figure13.3 ).
The Tiburtino district was built within the framework of a program of
the Italian state to build public housing throughout the Italian territory dur-
ing the post-war years using funds managed by a special organization at the
Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazion, the Gestione INA-Casa. This context
FIGURE13.3 Mario Ridol and others, Quartiere Ina-Casa Tiburtino a
Roma. Lotto B, case con ballatoio, riproduzione fotogra ca. Courtesy Accademia
Nazionale di San Luca, Roma. Archivio del Moderno e del Contemporaneo, Fondo
Ridol -Frankl-Malagricci, www.fondoridol .org .
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2369781350068230_pi-278.indd 236 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 237
237
is important for understanding the urban ideology behind the project. The
housing units were conceived as devices that would help the post-war citi-
zens feel familiar with the new urban identity after the traumas of the war.
Their forms, although they do not imitate the vernacular, are based on an
intent to respect the human scale, places that invite their inhabitants to
become familiar with a new urban identity. The housing units are not closed
but rather are considered non nito objects that could be adjusted according
to the future needs of the inhabitants.
The intention of the architects of the Tiburtino district project, to grasp
the vitality of Rome, illustrates neorealism’s wider intention:the transfor-
mation of the city’s ugly features, its disorder, into architectural instruments
of social and moral engagement. In 1954, Quaroni wrote that ‘the baroque
spirit is the spirit of Rome. It is a spontaneous generation, a creature of the
site:autochthonous. It uses, even in the order of architecture, the vital disor-
der of the life of Rome.
55
The aesthetic project of neorealist architecture lies
in the double vocation to render architectural composition mundane and to
renounce the arti ciality of the new. In 1957, several years after the comple-
tion of the project, Quaroni said that vitality was evident in the Tiburtino
district, and ugliness had become aestheticized:‘There was life, in any case,
in the neighbourhood. Beautiful or ugly, it lived as best it could.
56
This vital-
ity was more important than anything else, and so replaced the opposition
of beautiful/ugly with vital/non-vital.
This search for a method to respond to the post-war crisis was shared by
Tendenza architects. Cristiana Mazzoni, in La Tendenza:Une avant-garde
architecturale italienne, 1950–1980 , reminds us that ‘the word Tendenza
designates the movement of these architects who, with Rossi, offer through
their intellectual work an alternative and operational critique to the cri-
sis of the European architecture, its professional structures and its system
of education’.
57
In 1977, Rossi saw typology as an instrument for measur-
ing reality and resisting the confusion of contemporary architecture, as he
explains in the introduction to the Portuguese edition of Architettura della
citt à :‘Topography, typology, and history come to be measures of the muta-
tions of reality, together de ning a system of architecture wherein gratuitous
invention is impossible. Thus, they are opposed theoretically to the disorder
of contemporary architecture.
58
Because he believed that typology was both
an antidote for disorder and a means to evaluate, he also thought that the
choosing of the correct typology before the design process began was a way
to avoid ugliness. A‘lot of architecture is ugly’, he wrote, ‘because it cannot
be traced to a clear choice; without one, it is left deprived of meaning’.
59
This meant identifying ‘the individuality of the urban artifact’, because that
‘moment of decision’ was the one ‘in which typological principles were
applied to the real city’.
60
Rossi asserted in 1974 that ‘if the modern city is
ugly, as Quaroni says, it means that the models of reference have gradually
worn out … [and that the] rationalism that arose from the Haussmannian
solutions has been lost; the capitalist modern city has, in its instability, the
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2379781350068230_pi-278.indd 237 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
238
238
inability to give itself a face’.
61
Ayear earlier, however, in his introduction to
Architettura razionale , the catalogue of the XV Triennale di Milano, which
he curated, Rossi declared that ‘there is no longer any ideological shield for
ugly architecture’,
62
an assertion that, coupled with the title he chose for
the catalogue, creates an apparent paradox with his later idea that the very
notion of rational architecture is ineffective.
For Rossi, ugly architecture was architecture that is not characterized
by a clearly de ned individuality and has not emerged through a clear
typological choice. Pivotal for understanding what Rossi understood as
clearly de ned individuality is the notion of ‘locus’, which should not be
equated with the notion of context. It concerns a ‘relationship between a
certain speci c location and the buildings that are in it’ that is at the same
time ‘singular and universal’.
63
Rossi conceives the city as the ‘locus of
the collective memory’. The de ning parameters of an architectural arte-
fact, then, are ‘the autonomous principles according to which it is founded
and transmitted’;
64
architectural artefacts are both individual and social
works. Rossi’s view towards common architecture is therefore a positive
one; his research was ‘focused on the whole city, and not just on authored
architecture’.
65
However, Rossi’s aesthetic view on ugliness in Architettura della citt à is
different from that in A Scienti c Autobiography . In Architettura della citt à ,
published in 1973, he identi es ugly architecture as one that does not derive
from a de nitive choice of typology. His criterion for judging if architec-
ture is ugly or not is the extent to which its form-making was based on a
clear choice of typology. His approach to disorder is negative but gradually
changes to a selective af rmation of disorder. In his memoir A Scienti c
Autobiography , published in 1981, he writes that what he was trying to do
was to understand the space of encounter between order and disorder:‘I
felt that the disorder of things, if limited and somehow honest might best
correspond to our state of mind. But Idetested the arbitrary disorder that is
an indifference to order, a kind of moral absurdness, complacent well-being
forgetfulness.
66
He thus distinguished two types of disorder:the non-arbitrary that derives
from honesty, which is appropriate, and the arbitrary that derives from
indifference and moral absurdness, which is not. This attraction for ‘the
boundary between order and disorder’ arises from his interest in ‘the union
of different techniques’ that result in ‘a sort of realization-confusion’. That
boundary is a wall, ‘a fact of mathematics and masonry’, and so ‘the bound-
ary or wall between city and non-city establishes two different orders’.
67
To
Rossi, the schism of order versus disorder parallels the distinction of urban
and non-urban, unlike Zevi, for whom nding a building beautiful or ugly is
the same distinction as architecture and non-architecture, distinctions that,
along with city/non-city, are at the centre of the debate around ugliness
within the post-war Italian context.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2389781350068230_pi-278.indd 238 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
66
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 239
239
Rossi relates the notion of ugliness to a defamiliarization process of
thought. He employs the term ‘analogy’ to describe the ‘unforeseen results’
of the encounter with architectural artefacts that intensify semantic ambi-
guity. In ‘An Analogical Architecture’, he adopts Carl Jung’s de nition of
analogical thought as ‘sensed yet unreal, … archaic, unexpressed, and prac-
tically inexpressible in words’.
68
In ‘The Analogous City’, he explores the
dialectics of the concrete, in particular the ‘capacity of the imagination born
from the concrete’.
69
If we adopt the view that the spectator of beautiful
objects is disinterested, while the spectator of ugly objects is engaged, we
could assume that ugly objects activate imagination. Such a hypothesis
shows that Rossi’s dialectics of the concrete is close to the aestheticization
of the ugliness of post-war Italian cities. Rossi’s belief in the creative force
of concrete disorder re ects Kant’s idea that ‘ugliness is constituted by the
free imagination being unrestrained by the understanding’s need for order’
and that ‘ugliness pushes the freedom of the imagination to a high degree’.
70
Both positions interpret ugliness as a powerful source of creativity. In A
Scienti c Autobiography , Rossi employs the concepts of ‘deformation’ and
‘bewilderment’
71
to describe the effect of confusion that is provoked when
one looks in a speci c way at urban artefacts such as the ruins of the city.
He argues that his architecture was based on a desire to transform this sense
of ‘bewilderment’ into projects.
Beauty is not the property of objects, says Kant, but rather emerges from
the subject’s experience of pleasure or displeasure. He notes, ‘Fine art shows
its superiority precisely in this, that it describes things beautifully that in
nature we would dislike or nd ugly.
72
Architecture too has that ‘capacity to
be transmitted and to give pleasure’, as Rossi says, but this capacity is part
of technicsthe ‘means and principles’ of architecture.
73
Rossi intends to
discern the parameters on which architecture’s capacity to transmit pleasure
depends, a search for speci cs of the sort that Zevi describes, in his Saper
Vedere l’Architettura of 1948, when making a distinction between beautiful
and ugly architecture:‘Beautiful architecture [is] architecture in which
the interior space attracts us, elevates us and dominates us spiritually
[while] ugly architecture would be that in which the interior space disgusts
and repels us.
74
In ‘The Analogous City’, Rossi refers to the special 1976 issue of Nuova
societ à dedicated to the question of ‘how beautiful the city is’, where beauty
is identi ed with that which is useful.
75
In this issue, Carlo Aymonino’s para-
doxical assertion that ‘the beauty of the city is that it was always ugly’
76
was
a response to ‘how ugly the city is’. Zevi had earlier advocated usefulness as
the primary value for judging a space as either ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’,
77
rather
than according to purely aesthetic criteria, which prompted him to ask some
critical questions:
What, then, is architecture? And, perhaps equally important, what is non-
architecture? Is it proper to identify architecture with a beautiful building
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2399781350068230_pi-278.indd 239 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
240
240
and non-architecture with an ugly building? Is the distinction between
architecture and non-architecture based on purely aesthetic criteria?
78
Zevi believed that ‘the content of architecture is its social content’ and gave
primacy to the experience of interior space, de ning architecture as ‘the way
space is organized into meaningful form’.
79
Both Zevi and Rossi questioned
the adoption of purely aesthetic or purely functional criteria and searched
for the junction between use and aesthetic ful lment. While Zevi proposed
a conception of use, replacing impersonal functionalism with an organic
architecture at the service of democracy, Rossi disapproved any ex nihilo
aesthetic or functional models applied to new cities, and believed only in
concrete opportunities, which could only be tested hic et nunc and emerge
through analysis and comparison.
The paradoxical effect of both estrangement and familiarization at Torre
Velasca creates a tension between ‘continuit à ’ and ‘preesistenze ambientali’
that Rogers espoused in Tendenza architecture.
80
Paci’s view of the relation-
ship between past and present helps us to see how both could exist at the
same time:‘It is while questioning the past (but not by becoming the past)
that Iunderstand the present and the interest of the present for its own
transformation.
81
Similarly, what is at stake in Rossi’s concept of analogy
is a process of defamiliarization, which intensi es the semantic ambiguity
Quaroni explored in his response to complexity of the modern city. The
transformation of the status of the architect and his architecture has the
potential to bring about the ‘citt à meravigliosa’, a term from his La torre di
Babele ,
82
where he insists on the capacity of the ancient city to express what
he called ‘qualit à diffusa’.
83
Quaroni’s quest for a diffuse or widespread
quality is founded on his intention to conceive ‘new forms of developed
fabric’, like his Tiburtino district, that responded ‘to current housing needs,
and to the requirements of ready-made and quantitative multiplication’.
84
In
replacing beautiful/ugly with vital/non-vital, Quaroni demonstrates that the
concepts of ‘citt à meravigliosa’ and ‘qualit à diffusa’ cannot be understood
without untying their existential load, which, as in Rogers’ and Rossi’s cases,
moralizes ugliness. This appropriation of estrangement and defamiliariza-
tion and their existential implications justi es neorealism’s and Tendenza’s
aestheticization of the ugliness of post-war Italian cities.
Notes
1 Aldo Rossi , Prefazione alla seconda edizione ’ in L’architettura della citt à
( Padova : Marsilio , 1969 ), 3–7 ; L’architettura della ragione come architettura
di Tendenza ’ in Illuminismo e architettura del ‘700 veneto . Exh. cat, ed. Manlio
Brusatin ( Resina, Treviso : Gra che Giorgio Paroni , 1969 ) .
2 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Elogio della tendenza ’, Domus no. 216 ( 1946 ): 47 .
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2409781350068230_pi-278.indd 240 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 241
241
3 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Ortodossia dell’eterodossia ’, Casabella Continuit à no.
216 ( 1957 ): 4 ; Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Elogio della tendenza ’ in Esperienza
dell’architettura ( Turin : Einaudi , 1958 ), 90 .
4 Massimo Scolari , ‘ Avanguardia e Nuova Arhitettura’ in Ezio Bonfanti etal.,
Architettura Razionale:XV Triennale di Milano Sezione Internazionale di
Architettura ( Milan : Franco Angeli , 1973 ), 153–87 . Reprinted in English in
Architecture Theory since 1968 , ed. K. Michael Hays ( Cambridge, MA : MIT
Press , 1998 ), 131–2 .
5 Ibid., 132; Francesco Tentori , D’o ù venons-nous? Qui sommes-nous? O ù
allons-nous? ’ in Aspetti dell’arte contemporanea , catalogue of the exhibition
at L’Aquila, July 28–October 6, 1963, ed. Antonio Bandera , Enrico Crispolti ,
Sandro Benedetti and Paolo Portoghesi ( Rome : Edizioni dell’Ateneo ,
1963 ), 264–5 .
6 Ibid., 137.
7 Enzo Paci , L’architettura e il mondo della vita ’, Casabella Continuit à no. 217
( 1957 ): 53–5 .
8 Paci , Diario fenomenologico , 5th edn ( Milano : Il Saggiatore , 1961 ),
9 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , The Image:The Architect’s Inalienable Vision ’ in Sign,
Image, Symbol , ed. Gy ö rgy Kepes ( NewYork : George Braziller , 1966 ), 242–51 .
10 Gilles Deleuze
, Cinema 2:The Time-Image , trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert
Galeta ( Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press , 1989 ).
11 Andr é Bazin , What Is Cinema? , vol. 2, ed. Hugh Gray ( Berkeley : University of
California Press , 1971 ), 25 .
12 Bruno Reichlin , Figures of Neorealism in Italian Architecture (Part1) ’, Grey
Room no. 5 ( 2001 ): 83 .
13 Bazin, What Is Cinema? , 64.
14 Maristella Casciato , Neorealism in Italian Architecture ’ in Anxious
Modernisms:Experimentation in Postwar Architectural Culture , ed. Sarah
Williams and Rejean Legault Goldhagen ( Montreal : Canadian Centre for
Architecture , 2000 ), 48 .
15 Antonio Gramsci cited in Williams and Goldhagen, eds., Anxious
Modernisms , 25.
16 Paci, Diario fenomenologico , n.p.
17 L’Associazione per l’architettura organica , ‘ La costituzione dell’Associazione
per l’architettura organica a Roma ’, Metron no. 2 ( 1945 ): 75–6 .
18 Casciato, ‘Neorealism in Italian Architecture’, 29, 31.
19 Manfredo Tafuri , Progetto e Utopia:Architettura e Sviluppo Capitalistico
( Bari : Laterza , 1973 ).
20 Tafuri , ‘ Architettura e realismo ’ in Architettura moderna. L’aventura delle idee
nell’architettura 1750–1980 , ed. Magnago Lampugnani ( Milan : Electa 1981 ),
123–45 .
21 ‘Casabella … casus belli?’ L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui no.77 (1958):55.
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2419781350068230_pi-278.indd 241 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
242
242
22 ‘Si vis pacem demain … para bellum … aujourd’hui’, Casabella Continuit à
no.220 (1958):53.
23 Reyner Banham , Neoliberty:The Italian Retreat from Modern Architecture ’,
The Architectural Review 125 , no. 747 ( 1959 ): 231–5 .
24 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Esperienza dell’architettura , ed. Luca Molinari
( Milan : Skira , 1997 ).
25 Ernesto Nathan Rogers, cited in Oscar Newman , New Frontiers in
Architecture:CIAM ’59 in Otterlo ( NewYork : Universe Books , 1961 ), 93 .
26 On Team X, see Luca Molinari , Constructing New Continuities in a Post-War
World:The Relationship between Jaap Bakema and Ernesto Nathan Rogers ’ in
Un palazzo in forma di parole. Scritti in onore di Paolo Carpeggiani , ed. Carlo
Togliani ( Milan : Franco Angeli 2016 ), 487–95 .
27 Peter Smithson cited in Oscar Newman , New Frontiers in Architecture:CIAM
’59 in Otterlo ( NewYork : Universe Books , 1961 ), 94–7 .
28 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Le responsabilit à verso la tradizione ’, Casabella
Continuit à no. 202 ( 1954 ): 1–3 .
29 Ludovico Quaroni , Il ratto della citt à ’, Spazio e Societ à no. 8 ( 1979 ): 28 .
30 Ludovico Quaroni , La Torre di Babele ( Padova : Marsilio Editore , 1967 ).
31 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Utopia della realt à ’, Casabella-Continuit à no. 259
( 1962 ): 1 ; Ernesto Nathan Rogers
, Utopia della realt à ( Bari : Laterza , 1965 ) .
32 Rogers, Esperienza dell’architettura ; Enzo Paci , Esistenza ed immagine
( Milan : Tarantola , 1947 ) ; Enzo Paci , The Heart of the City ’, Casabella
Continuit à no. 202 ( 1954 ): viii .
33 Quaroni cited in Herman van Bergeijk , CIAM Summer School 1956 ’, Over
Holland 9 ( 2010 ): 123 .
34 ‘L’architetto tende per sua natura, e per deformazione professionale, al
controllo totale della citt à come fosse un’unico edi cio. Ma la mitica Torre di
Babele, si sa, non arriv ò mai a compimento’, from the epigraph in Quaroni, La
Torre di Babele (my translation), cited in Antonino Terranova , Dalle gure del
reale:Risigni cazioni e progetti ( Rome : Gangemi Editore spa ), 22 .
35 Henry Miller , Tropic of Capricorn ( London : Penguin , 2015 ), 176 .
36 Karl Rosenkranz , Aesthetics of Ugliness:A Critical Edition , trans. Andrei Pop
and Mechtild Widrich ( London; NewYork : Bloomsbury Academic , 2015 ).
37 Mark Cousins , The Ugly ’, AA Files no. 28 ( 1994 ): 61–4 .
38 Deleuze, Cinema 2 , xi.
39 Deleuze, Cinema 2 , 5.
40 Manfredo Tafuri , Les “muses inqui é tantes” ou le destin d’une g é n é ration de
“Ma î tres ’, L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui no. 181 ( 1975 ): 17 .
41 Rossi, ‘Introduzione’, in Quaroni, La torre di Babele , published in English as
Aldo Rossi , The Tower of Babel ’ in Aldo Rossi:Selected Writings and Projects ,
ed. John O’Regan ( London : Architectural Design , 1983 ), 36 .
42 Kassandra Nakas , Putre ed, Deliquescent, Amorphous:The ‘Liquefying’
Rhetoric of Ugliness ’ in Ugliness:The Non-Beautiful in Art and Theory , ed.
Andrei Pop and Mechtild Widrich ( London : I.B. Tauris , 2014 ), 176 .
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2429781350068230_pi-278.indd 242 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
NEOREALISM’S AND TENDENZA’S UGLINESS 243
243
43 Nicola Cotton . Norms and Violations:Ugliness and Abnormality in
Caricatures of Monsieur Mayeux ’ in Histories of the Normal and the
Abnormal:Social and Cultural Histories of Norms and Normativity , ed.
Waltraud Ernst ( London : Routledge , 2006 ), 122 .
44 Kevin Hetherington , Capitalism’s Eye:Cultural Spaces of the Commodity
( London : Routledge , 2007 ).
45 Jim Hillier , ed., Part Three Italian Cinema ’ in Cahiers du Cin é ma. The
1950s:Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard
University Press , 1985 ), 177 .
46 Adam Fure, ‘Glittering Ugly Objects’ in The Expanding Periphery and the
Migrating Center , ed. Lola Sheppard and David Ruy, 103rd ACSA Annual
Meeting Proceedings (Toronto, 2015), 549, http://www.acsa-arch.org/forms/
store/ProductFormPublic/103rd-annual-meeting-paper-proceedings-the-
expanding-periphery-and-the-migrating-center [accessed 3 March 2019].
47 Gretchen E. Henderson , Ugliness:A Cultural History ( London : Reaktion
Books , 2015 ).
48 Deleuze, Cinema 2 , 201.
49 Umberto Eco , The Poetics of the Open Work ’ in The Role of the Reader:
Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts ( Bloomington : Indiana University Press ,
1979 ), 55 .
50 Immanuel Kant , Critique of the Power of Judgment , trans. Paul Guyer and Eric
Matthews ( NewYork : Cambridge University Press , 2000 ), 126 .
51 Henderson, Ugliness:A Cultural History .
52 Scolari, ‘Avanguardia e Nuova Architettura’.
53 Aristotle , Poetics , ed. John Baxter and Patrick Atherton , trans. George Whalley
( Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press , 1997 ), 62 .
54 Manfredo Tafuri , Ludovico Quaroni e lo sviluppo dell’architettura moderna in
Italia ( Milan : Comunit à , 1964 ), 94 .
55 Quaroni cited in Tafuri, Ludovico Quaroni e lo sviluppo dell’architettura
moderna in Italia , 190.
56 Quaroni , Il paese dei barocchi ’, Casabella continuit à no. 215 ( 1957 ): 24 .
57 Cristana Mazzoni , La Tendenza:une avant-garde architecturale italienne,
1950–1980 ( Marseille : É ditions Parenth è ses , 2013 ), 32 .
58 Aldo Rossi , Introduction’ in Arquitetura da Cidade ( Lisbon : Edi ç õ es
Cosmos , 1977 ).
59 Rossi cited in Terry Kirk , The Architecture of Modern Italy, Volume II:Visions
of Utopia, 1900-Present ( NewYork : Princeton Architectural Press , 2005 ).
60 Pier Vittorio Aureli , ‘ Rossi’s Concept of the Locus as a Political Category of the
City ’, OverHolland 8 ( 2009 ): 59 .
61 Aldo Rossi , L’Analisi urbana e la progettazione architettonica:contributi al
dibattito e al lavoro di gruppo nell’anno accademico 1968/69 ( Milano : Clup ,
1974 ), 61 .
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2439781350068230_pi-278.indd 243 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
ARCHITECTURE AND UGLINESS
244
244
62 Rossi , Introduzione ’ in Architettura Razionale:XV Triennale di Milano
Sezione Internazionale di Architettura , ed. Ezio Bonfanti etal. ( Milan : Angeli
1973 ), 13 .
63 Rossi, The Architecture of the City, 103.
64 Ibid., 127, 130.
65 Pier Vittorio Aureli , The Common and the Production of Architecture:Early
Hypotheses ’ in Common Ground:A Critical Reader , ed. David Chipper eld ,
Kieran Long and Shumi Bose ( Venice : Marsilio Editori , 2012 ).
66 Aldo Rossi , A Scienti c Autobiography , trans. Lawrence Venuti , Oppositions
Books ( Cambridge, MA : MIT Press , 1981 ), 83 .
67 Ibid., 50.
68
Aldo Rossi , ‘ An Analogical Architecture ’, Architecture and Urbanism 56
( 1976 ).
69 Aldo Rossi , The Analogous City ’, Lotus International no. 13 ( 1976 ): 6 .
70 Mojca Kuplen , The Aesthetic of Ugliness:A Kantian Perspective ’, Proceedings
of the European Society for Aesthetics 5 ( 2013 ): 275 .
71 Rossi, A Scienti c Autobiography , 23.
72 Immanuel Kant , The Critique of Judgment ( Indianapolis, IN : Hackett ,
1987 ), 180 .
73 Aldo Rossi , The Architecture of the City , trans. Diane Ghirardo and Joan
Ockman ( Cambridge, MA : MIT Press , [1966] 1982 ), 127 . First published as
L’architettura della citt à (Padova:Marsilio, 1966).
74 Bruno Zevi , Architecture as Space:How to Look at Architecture
( NewYork : Horizon Press , [ 1948 ] 1957 ). First published as Saper Vedere
l’Architettura (Turin:Einaudi, 1948).
75 Saverio Vertone , Com’ è bella la citta ’, Nuova Societ à no. 67 ( 1976 ): 18 .
76 Carlo Aymonino , Com’ è brutta la citta ’, Nuova Societ à no. 159 ( 1979 ): 25 .
77 Henri Lefebvre , The Production of Space ( Oxford : Basil Blackwell , 1991 ), 128 .
78 Zevi, Architecture as Space , 24.
79 Ibid., 49.
80 Ernesto Nathan Rogers , Continuit à ’, Casabella-Continuit à no. 199
( 1953–54 ): 2–3 .
81 Enzo Paci , The Function of the Sciences and the Meaning of Man
( Evaston : Northwestern University Press , 1972 ), 24 .
82 Antonino Terranova , Dalle gure del reale:Risigni cazioni e progetti
( Rome : Gangemi Editore spa , 2009 ), 28 .
83 Antonio Riondino , Ludovico Quaroni e la didattica dell’architettura nella
Facolt à di Roma tra gli anni ‘60 e ‘70:Il progetto della Citt à e l’ampliamento
dei con ni disciplinari ( Rome : Gangemi Editore spa ), 162 .
84 Manuel de Sol à -Morales , Quaroni, la distante lucidez ’, Urbanismo revista 7
( 1989 ): 43 .
9781350068230_pi-278.indd 2449781350068230_pi-278.indd 244 28-Sep-19 18:01:3428-Sep-19 18:01:34
... The objective is to shed light on how ugliness was instrumentalized as a productive category in post-war Italian architecture and on how Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Ludovico Quaroni and Aldo Rossi's aesthetic views towards ugliness incorporated post-war urban reality. It also reveals how the anti-aesthetic and anti-elitist stance of Tendenza and Neorealist architecture were applied in Torre Velasca (1950)(1951)(1952)(1953)(1954)(1955)(1956)(1957)(1958) by Ludovico Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (BBPR) and Tiburtino district (1949)(1950)(1951)(1952)(1953)(1954) by Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridolfi, in collaboration with certain young Roman architects, such as Carlo Aymonino (Charitonidou 2020). Tendenza and Neorealist architecture shared the effort to reformulate the ways we judge architecture through new models, corresponding to urban expansion, and establishing criteria that take into consideration the struggle for social reconstruction, characterizing post-war Italian cities. ...
... Rogers also referred to 'tendenza' , in "Ortodossia dell'eterodossia", in 1957(Rogers 1957 and in Esperienza dell 'architettura, in 1958'architettura, in (Rogers 1958. He drew a distinction between the concepts of 'tendenza' , style and coherence, defining 'tendenza' as "an act of modesty that integrates the activity of each individual in the culture of their own epoch, inviting them to consider their selves before anything else as parts of society" (Rogers 1958;Charitonidou 2020). Rossi first employed the term "tendenza" in 1969, in the introduction to the second Italian edition of L'architettura della città (Rossi 1969a) and in "L'architettura della ragione come architettura di Tendenza", in the catalogue of the exhibition Illuminismo e architettura del '700 veneto (Rossi 1969b). ...
... Before this controversy, Torre Velasca had received an equally negative critique in France, in L' Architecture d'aujourd'hui, where it was regarded as an effect of the Italian appreciation for "ugliness, baroque inflammation, exaggeration, false originality, the strange, and the bizarre" (Charitonidou 2020). Casabella responded to the ironic title "Casabella... casus belli?" of L' Architecture d'aujourd'hui, which attacked BBPR's aesthetics, publishing a text with the equally caustic title "Si vis pacem demain... para bellum... aujourd'hui" (Charitonidou 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
The article examines the reorientations of the appreciation of ugliness within different national contexts in a comparative and relational frame, juxtaposing the Australian, American, British and Italian milieus. It also explores the ways in which the transformation of the urban fabric and the effect of suburbanization were perceived in the aforementioned national contexts. Special attention is paid to the production and dissemination of how the city’s uglification was conceptualized between the 1950s and 1970s. Pivotal for the issues that this article addresses are Ian Nairn’s Outrage: On the Disfigurement of Town and Countryside, Robin Boyd’s The Australian Ugliness, Donald Gazzard’s Australian Outrage: The Decay of a Visual Environment, and the way the phenomenon of urban expansion is treated in these books in comparison with other books from the four national contexts under study, such as Ludovico Quaroni’s La torre di Babele and Reyner Banham’s The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?. Particular emphasis is placed on Boyd’s articles in The Architectural Review between 1951 and 1970. At the core of the article is the analysis of the debates around ugliness between the 1950s and 1970s within the British, Italian, American and Australian contexts.
... The concern about reinventing the way architectural and urban artefacts are inhabited is reflected in the theme of the ninth CIAM held in 1953 in Aix-en-Provence in France, which was the 'Grid of Living'. Through their 'Urban Re-identification Grid', Alison and Peter Smithson expressed their ideas concerning the transformation conception of the user in architecture during the post-war years, criticising the reductive of understanding urban reality during the modernist era (Charitonidou 2020d). Such a critique is also very present in Scott Brown's work and, more particularly in the posters produced during the Learning from Levittown Studio in collaboration with Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, and their students. ...
Article
Full-text available
The article examines the impact of the study for Levittown of urban sociologist Herbert Gans on Denise Scott Brown’s thought. It scrutinizes Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Steven Izenour’s ‘Remedial Housing for Architects or Learning from Levittown’ conducted in collaboration with their students at Yale University in 1970. Taking as its starting point Scott Brown’s endeavour to redefine functionalism in ‘Architecture as Patterns and Systems: Learning from Planning’, and ‘The Redefinition of Functionalism’, which were included in Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time (2004), the article sheds light on the fact that the intention to shape a new way of conceiving functionalism was already present in Learning from Las Vegas, where Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour suggested an understanding of Las Vegas as pattern of activities. Particular emphasis is placed on Scott Brown’s understanding of ‘active socioplastics’, and on the impact of advocacy planning and urban sociology on her approach. At the core of the reflections developed in this article is the concept of ‘urban village’ that Gans uses in US in The Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian-Americans (1972) to shed light on the socio-anthropological aspects of inhabiting urban fabric.
... [43]. De Carlo and Ernesto Nathan Rogers both played a protagonist role in this process of "re-humanisation" of architecture [44]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The article examines the principles of Giancarlo De Carlo's design approach. It pays special attention to his critique of the modernist functionalist logic, which was based on a simplified understanding of users. De Carlo′s participatory design approach was related to his intention to replace of the linear design process characterising the modernist approaches with a non-hierarchical model. Such a non-hierarchical model was applied to the design of the Nuovo Villaggio Matteotti in Terni among other projects. A characteristic of the design approach applied in the case of the Nuovo Villaggio Matteotti is the attention paid to the role of inhabitants during the different phases of the design process. The article explores how De Carlo's "participatory design" criticised the functionalist approaches of prewar modernist architects. It analyses De Carlo's theory and describes how it was made manifest in his architectural practice-particularly in the design for the Nuovo Villaggio Matteotti and the master plan for Urbino-in his teaching and exhibition activities, and in the manner his buildings were photographs and represented through drawings and sketches. The work of Giancarlo De Carlo and, especially, his design methods in the case of the Nuovo Villaggio Matteotti can help us reveal the myths of participatory design approaches within the framework of their endeavour to replace the representation of designers by a representation of users. The article relates the potentials and limits of De Carlo's participatory design approach to more contemporary concepts such as "negotiated planning", "co-production", and "crossbenching". The article also intends to explore whether there is consistency between De Carlo's theory of participation and its application.
Article
Full-text available
In the history of aesthetic thought, beauty has been construed as aesthetic value par excellence. According to aesthetic theories, beautiful is that which gives rise to the feeling of pleasure within us. Hence, aesthetic value of both nature and art works is measured in terms of the feeling of pleasure they occasion in us. Ugliness, correlated to the feeling of displeasure , on the other hand, has been traditionally theorized as an aesthetic category that stands in opposition to beauty, and therefore associated with aesthetic disvalue and worthlessness. In recent years, and particularly with the development of modern art, this traditional aesthetic picture has been widely criticized. It has been pointed out, based on the proliferation of art works that evoke intense feelings of displeasure, that ugliness can be greatly appreciated. A general objective of this paper is to propose an account of ugliness that entails, as its necessary part, the explanation of its possible appeal. In particular, I propose a solution to the problem, known in philosophical aesthetics as 'the paradox of ugliness', namely how we can value something that we prima facie do not like and find positively displeasing. I develop my explanation of ugliness in light of Kant's theory of taste.
Chapter
The groundbreaking Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum; September 2004; paperback original) maps the aural and discursive terrain of vanguard music today. Rather than offering a history of contemporary music, Audio Culture traces the genealogy of current musical practices and theoretical concerns, drawing lines of connection between recent musical production and earlier moments of sonic experimentation. It aims to foreground the various rewirings of musical composition and performance that have taken place in the past few decades and to provide a critical and theoretical language for this new audio culture. This new and expanded edition of the Audio Culture contains twenty-five additional essays, including four newly-commissioned pieces. Taken as a whole, the book explores the interconnections among such forms as minimalism, indeterminacy, musique concrète, free improvisation, experimental music, avant-rock, dub reggae, ambient music, hip hop, and techno via writings by philosophers, cultural theorists, and composers. Instead of focusing on some “crossover” between “high art” and “popular culture,” Audio Culture takes all these musics as experimental practices on par with, and linked to, one another. While cultural studies has tended to look at music (primarily popular music) from a sociological perspective, the concern here is philosophical, musical, and historical. Audio Culture includes writing by some of the most important musical thinkers of the past half-century, among them John Cage, Brian Eno, Ornette Coleman, Pauline Oliveros, Maryanne Amacher, Glenn Gould, Umberto Eco, Jacques Attali, Simon Reynolds, Eliane Radigue, David Toop, John Zorn, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others. Each essay has its own short introduction, helping the reader to place the essay within musical, historical, and conceptual contexts, and the volume concludes with a glossary, a timeline, and an extensive discography.
Article
Capitalism's Eye is an ambitious cultural analysis exploring the ways people took possession of commodities and became subjects in the era of industrial expansion during the nineteenth century. Writing against the now dominant argument that capitalist society should be characterised as a "society of the spectacle," Kevin Hetherington offers an investigation of nineteenth century spaces of consumption that challenges the production view of the subject underlying most analyses of consumption that start with ideas of commodity fetishism and phantasmagoria. He suggests instead an alternative consumption view of the subject associated with consuming practices - expressed through the trope of taking possession of the fetish rather than simply being possessed by it. Situating his study in the signature spaces of nineteenth century modernity - the great exhibitions, the department stores, the interiors of the bourgeois home, and the museum - Hetherington opens a new vista onto our understanding of the rise of consumerism and the consuming subjects that were shaped by it.
Avanguardia e Nuova Architettura
  • Scolari
Scolari, 'Avanguardia e Nuova Architettura'.