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The Italian Approach, Nicola Marzot
The Italian approach: premises, developments and prospects Nicola Marzot discusses the importance of building type in urban design practice In Italy, the application of the concept of building type in urban design practice has been systematically affected by the overwhelming importance placed on the culture of historic centres. From its theoretical inception in the early 1960s, morphogenetic analysis of the historic core was used as a source of design guidance helpful to current practice. The aim was to draw a contrast with the lack of 'urbanity' of peripheral areas produced by applying the principles of the Modern Movement: functional zoning; social segregation by role and income; low densities; 'universal' building types; dissolution of both traditional patterns of public space and structural relations with the existing urban settlement. As opposed to the 'anonymous uniformity' induced by the widespread industrial interpretation of urban morphology, the notion of the 'genius loci' was seized as a basis for summarising a commonly shared aspiration to new ideals: a strong integration of different functions and social classes; high density to avoid wasteful use of land and to intensify individual relations; the creation of continuous urban blocks by mutual arrangement of building types; the recovery of a close relation between building features and urban voids; the reuse and transformation of existing types, updating them to accommodate new needs, and more attention in general focused on deriving operative suggestions for new building features from the past. Carlo Aymonino, ROMA-EST proposal for the XV Milan's Triennale, 1973. The Various approaches 'città per parti' concept as an analytical With this renewed interest in urban history, the concept of building type became method and project model: the city is deeply rooted in the past, even if its character and meaning seemed to change defined as a bricolage of well known with the methodological interpretation of the different authors involved. For architecture. Gianfranco Caniggia 1 , one of the most notable, along with the wider 'Muratorian school', the building type was to be considered a 'collective project', the result of widely shared cultural values deeply rooted in local traditions. In addition it was conceived as the temporary result of a never-ending process of transformation of existing buildings, progressively updated to new social and technical needs, leading to a dense and strongly layered architecture, a view abandoned by the abstract approach of the Modern Movement. To an extent, Giulio Carlo Argan 2 and Pier Luigi Cervellati3 accepted Caniggia's point of view, recognising the historical process implicit in the building type. But once it was applied, for example, in the plan for Bologna's historic centre, they denied the possibility of using it as the starting point for more complex arrangements derived from a systematic transformation of previous types. Aldo Rossi4 , on the contrary, aimed at joining traditional urban form with that theorised by international Rationalism. According to him the building type was conceived as a constant and archetypal configuration which persists through space and time as a design tool. Consequently architecture became the historical interpretation of its permanence and stability. While the hypotheses expressed by Caniggia and Argan were mainly applied to conservation programmes in historical centres, that proposed by Rossi and further developed by, among the others, Carlo Aymonino, Guido Canella and Gian Ugo Polesello, A proposal of the 'net–city', 1988: was taken as a reference point for new urban developments over the '70s and OMA/Rem Koolhaas first sketches for the '80s. This led progressively to the identification of the building type, in the Euralille, the new city as an Italian debate, as a matter that seemed unchangeable and independent of the arrangement of autonomous fragments. different methods used. The ideological framework inherited from the debate over historical centres was not, however, homogeneous. Caniggia, Argan and Cervellati believed in the city as a unique and organic totality, on which time acted according to recurrent laws. The development of urban form is characterised by the dialectic between residential areas and institutional building, expressions of the same typological substance. Rossi, on the contrary, assumed the city is a sort of patchwork made of different features, called the 'città per parti', obtained by progressively adding new parts to the already existing ones, which altered the meaning of the city by changing its previous configuration. In addition he distinguished the behaviour of institutional buildings, called 'elementi primari' from that of ordinary buildings, the 'aree residenza'. While the former reveal formal stability, the latter undergo continuous transformation producing informal but not comparable arrangements. Both views do, however, admit that the city is, and had always been, the result of the dialectic between 'centres' and 'peripheries' and reveal a close relationship between urban morphology and building typology. This statement, in fact, could be simultaneously confirmed by the development of the traditional and the modern city. Hans Kollhoff, project for an analogous city, 1976. A collage of well known But the transition from the industrial to the post-industrial economy has entirely architectural typology is assumed as a modified this framework and urban design practice in the 1990s was quick to possible model for redefining the record new urban phenomena. In Italy, Bernardo Secchi5 was the first to modern urban space. theorise the concept of 'città diffusa' (urban sprawl). According to him we have to replace the idea of the modern metropolis with that of a totally discontinuous urbanised territory. Paradoxically, the Russian disurbanistic avant-guarde proposals - to bring 'urbanity' into the countryside and blur the traditional distinction between the city and the open landscape - was not realised by the socialist economy, but by the emerging capitalist system. The massive improvement of territorial infrastructure, intended to enhance the efficiency of goods transport around an ever larger commercial market, has resulted in the almost uniform diffusion across the territory of the ordinary buildings necessary for production and trading, with an attendant change in their dimensions and mutual interrelations. This phenomenon has further led the spontaneous 'backbone' to settle into unexpected locations, both residential areas and centres of leisure activity, which continue to transform the same concept of urban living. The average scale of these new settlements is totally different in comparison to traditional and modern ones and proportional in size to the global economy.
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C hanging C ities: Rethinking Urban C ompetitiveness, C ohesion and Governance (C ities Texts)
Urban Design (Quarterly) Issue 93, Winter 2005: Urban Morphology
News and Events International: ParisPlage View Points Topic - Urban Morphology Introduction, Roger Evans, topic coeditor The Handling C haracteristics of Urban Form, Karl Kropf, topic co-editor Urban Morphology, Urban Landscape Management and Fringe Belts, JWR Whitehand Understanding Urban Form?, Peter Larkham Who Made this Big Mess?, Brenda Scheer Landscape as a 'Rural-Urban' C ontinuum, Andy Wharton The Italian Approach, Nicola Marzot New Methods in Space Syntax, Bill Hillier and C hris
By admitting only a partial focus on reality. Progetto e destino. A Planned city without any prescription about urban form". 2003.XL. If and when architecture aspires to express contemporary values in urban design practice. artificially replacing the scale of traditional patterns of public space. Uniongrafica Corticelli Editrice. however. Milano. Nicola Marzot is an architect teaching in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Ferrara and on the editorial board of Paesaggio Urbano. This 'realistic' framework opens up new perspectives to the possible application of the concept of building type in urban design strategies. 1995 7. The global economy has in fact accelerated the perception of differences as a matter of identity for the new city. Marsilio Editori. La nuova cultura della città. bringing together into a new kind of unity territorial features which previously belonged to autonomous scales and purposes. Un progetto per l'urbanistica. Cambridge. On the contrary it seems helpful for design practice to work on specific fragments. Stella Michele. The main cause seems to be the desire for flexibility and continuous transformation expressed by the new economy. Caniggia Gianfranco. fragments of productive farmland. L'architettura della città. pp 159-165 ‹ Landscape as a 'Rural-Urban' Continuum. the concept of building type is no longer capable of meeting new needs. to compete with urban centres and become a self-sufficient small town. as with functionalism. Maffei Gian Luigi. Collage City. The hierarchical structure of the city has been replaced by a network of centres located into the most profitable nodes within it. S. 1977 4. the buildings are as anonymous as possible and tend to isolate each other in order to freely and rapidly meet new needs. the productive settlement and the 'net-city' itself8 and confirming the strong relationship between urban morphology and building typology in a 'weak' but important way. Einaudi. implying a systematic deconstruction of its principles which are individual and cannot be generalised.14/06/13 economy. making itself a matter of language. Padova. Milano. 1989 6. and aiming to offer itself simply as a working tool for programmatic purposes. emphasising the role of mobility in current urban culture. in Petruccioli Attilio. the modern periphery. we notice recurrent strategies: to blur into infrastructural iconicity. inevitably avoid the complexity of the current urban landscape where traditional urban nuclei. Venezia. Nicola Marzot | RUDI . Volume I. the architecture refuses to be 'representative' of shared values. Il Saggiatore. The previous results can be found in Marzot Nicola. Bari. New York. "The paradox of Castel Maggiore. It therefore no longer seems possible to define a unique solution and to pursue an ideological approach to the new urbanised territories. Koetter Fred. expressing the endless widening of the traditional city boundaries. erased by urban sprawl.net/books/6056 2/2 . theorised by Rem Koolhaas 6 . 1965 3. modern peripheries. territorial infrastructures. Bill Hillier and Chris Stutz › RUDI quick links Need help? contact us RUDI membership RUDI user guide Book a site demo More about RUDI RUDI services RUDI's team 1 RUDI and UrbanXtra are part of Landor LINKS: © RUDI 1997-2013 Landor LINKS Ltd | All Rights Reserved Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +44 (0) 20 7091 7857 | Fax +44 (0) 20 7091 7961 Our partners | Useful Links | Terms & C onditions www. The Italian Approach. Marsilio Editori. Secchi Bernardo. in order to intensify and multiply mutual connection. Rossi Aldo. in its entirety. the rural landscape. Lettura dell'edilizia di base.Resource for Urban Design Information Hillier and C hris Stutz C ase Studies Book Reviews End Piece In this new framework. Once again.rudi. even if shown at a wider scale than the original. to create of an artificial landscape merged into the natural one. The Planned city?. 1978 8. 1966 5. Andy Wharton up New Methods in Space Syntax. Rowe Colin. productive settlements and wastelands coexist close to each other to produce something which. The Monacelli Press. 1979 2. Koolhaas Rem. as defined by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter7 . Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This approach will inevitably lead us to recognise the internal differences which lie at the heart of every single feature and accept them as the conscious result of a choice. reminds us of the idea of a 'collage city'. all of these.L. This work of research is already started in Italy. Every single urban feature should therefore be viewed according to its inner logic. Reference 1. mainly expressed by the 'generic city'. Because the configurations of the 'net-city' are always changing in close relation to the development of the market.M. Cervellati Pier Luigi (edited by). Argan Giulio Carlo. Strappa Giuseppe (edited by). Mondadori. Torino. showing the historical heterogeneity of the city centres.
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