In the critical study of a text that does not want to limit itself and force itself into an exquisitely philological analysis, it is necessary to perform two fundamental operations.
On the one hand, it is necessary to define the temporal coordinates of the text to establish its role and scope within the historical-cultural panorama in which it is born and affirms itself. On the other hand, it is necessary to link the text to the biography of the author and, in the event that the text does not constitute an isolated experience, to evaluate its role and intrinsic scope in relation to the rest of the bibliographic production.
In this perspective, therefore, the study text becomes a pretext, a term that obviously does not underlie provocative ambitions, but alludes to the need to consider the reference text as a starting point: a research tool, a privileged device for the logical construction of a critical discourse starting from the correspondances and associations that such an approach involves and hopes at the same time.
The Architecture of the City is, therefore, the starting point of a critical path that, incorporating other Rossian texts, his drawings and the main interpretations of his thought, tries an approach to Aldo Rossi’s theory that goes from a point of view different from the classic interpretations of his work.Traditionally, in fact, Rossi’s both architectural and theoretical production is divided into two parts, two great moments that alternate in chronological succession.
Among the many interpretations, it is sufficient to refer to the many texts that Rafael Moneo (1) dedicates to Rossi to be able to see how the opinion of critics and of the history of architecture is that there is a first Aldo Rossi (fully represented by L’Architettura della City), engaged in the logical construction of a scientific and objective theory that aims at a rational re-foundation of the discipline; and a second Aldo Rossi (that of Scientific Autobiography) in which the necessity of a theory becomes essentially a definition of a poetics, in which the individual memory, the necessity of self-description, the overlapping of the individual, the civic and the objectifiable memory inevitability of the subjective component.
This distinction in successive phases has a certain value if we consider the architectural production of Rossi, divided between a first moment of research based on the study of the relationship between the architectural artifact and the city and a second period in which, as Moneo sharply notes, Rossi transformed into a great designer of self-referential forms, of great objects of memory that lose part of their intrinsic value in their relationship with the city. But this same distinction, if applied to the theoretical Rossi, becomes a simplification of the terms of the discourse which, obviously, does not take into account the coexistence in the thought of the Milanese architect of two souls, two opposing and contrasting tensions that do not alternate, but coexist by always on different floors.