Architect, designer, artist, theoretician, teacher, and author, Aldo Rossi (1931-1997) is the most well-known figure in Italian architecture for the post-1968 period, and one of the most important architects of the second half of the 20th century. Founder of the Neo-Rationalist movement, Rossi published two enormously influential books that have been basic reading for architects and students since their publication: L’architettura della città [The Architecture of the City] (1966), and Scientific Autobiography (1981).

His architectural work is based on a limited vocabulary of original forms inspired by the architecture of his native northern Italy (cone, chimney, baptistery, theatre, and passageway). Buildings seem to be drawn from a memory that exists outside time itself, the result of a meditation on history and the very essence of architecture, as exemplified in such haunting works as the San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena (1971-1978), and the ephemeral floating Teatro del Mondo (1979) in Venice.

Rossi taught and lectured in Italy, Switzerland, the United States, and Germany. He also designed furniture as well as functional objects, such as his famous teapot, for the Italian firm Alessi.

The Aldo Rossi Archive (1959-1997) at the CCA, the principal study centre for research on the architecture of Aldo Rossi, covers his entire career from 1960 to 1997. It represents a comprehensive record of a lifework, the essence of which is in the drawings. The archive comprises nearly 9,000 drawings and models, as well as 34 linear metres of project files documenting 292 projects spanning the period from 1959 to 1997.

An impressive number of drawings, including many that document the stages of a project’s refinement, are in Rossi’s hand. Even the so-called “technical drawings” (measured drawings or diazotype with a freehand overlay) are beautifully composed. Rossi coloured his drawings with a carefully selected symbolic palette and covered them with numerous free-hand annotations. Rossi’s studio generated and refined ideas using freehand drawing as its central act.

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