Aldo Rossi's San Cataldo Cemetery, Modena, Italy
Aldo Rossi's competition winning design for the San Cataldo Cemetery is a seminal work, coming as it did at a time when architects were questioning the tenets of the Modern Movement. The project is fascinating and baffling at the same time. One is drawn in by its metaphysical and evocative forms, but also left a bit disturbed by its fascistic overtones. Rossi has of course addressed these points with penetrating insight and intelligence. For me, the references to all sorts of other architectures, from factories and walled cities to, alas, concentration camps and prison walls only serves to give the project more poetic charge. I have recently made a 3D interpolation of the project based on a mixture of his winning 1971 scheme and changes he made up to 1976.
The project is Rossi's clearest interpretation of his ideas regarding architecture and the city. “One can say that the city itself is the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places. The city is the locus of the collective memory.” The cemetery is the very embodiment of this notion of collective memory, and Rossi here creates a haunting and enigmatic city of the dead.
Aldo Rossi's original competion winning design.
Animation from CAD model (right click for player controls)
Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982),
© Anthony Silvio D'Aulerio / Art & Architecture