Pomo summer season: Aldo Rossi’s unfinished San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena, Italy, is regarded as one particular of the seminal Postmodern operates. The architect, who denied becoming portion of the controversial movement, created the developing in 1971 even though recovering from a serious car crash .

Rossi when declared that “I can’t be Postmodern, as I have in no way been Modern day” however his cemetery for Modena displays the strong colouring, bold kind and historically referential detailing that became synonymous with the motion.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

American architecture critic Charles Jencks, who defined the movement in his 1977 book The Language of Submit-Present day Architecture, described Rossi as 1 of the foremost Post-Modernists and the cemetery as the Italian architect’s most critical venture.

At the centre of Rossi’s design is a cube-shaped ossuary for housing remains and a conical tower that marks a communal grave. Set within a courtyard on the outskirts of Modena, the ossuary is covered in terracotta-coloured render, although the perimeter buildings that enclose the courtyard characteristic steely blue roofs.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

Rossi was born in Milan in 1931 and studied architecture at the city’s polytechnic university, graduating in 1959. Although he is better acknowledged for his created works, Rossi wrote for Italian architecture magazine Casabella during the later on portion of the 1950s and published texts on urban concept in the 1960s and 1990s. He also branched into industrial layout creating family goods which includes a stainless steel coffee pot for Italian manufacturer Alessi in the 1980s.

Associated story: The Dezeen guide to Postmodern architecture and design

The architect formulated his first designs for the expansion of the cemetery with his colleague Gianni Braghieri. It was Rossi’s first key public appointment and was to carry him fame outside Italy for the very first time in his career, opening doors to tasks in America, Japan and in other parts of Europe. He later grew to become the first Italian recipient of the Pritzker Prize in 1990.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Maria Lucia Lusetti and Paolo Tedeschi

Rossi had really set his sights on yet another project and had been functioning on his entry for the 1971 Centre George Pompidou competition, which was ultimately won by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, but a significant car accident just weeks prior to the deadline hospitalised Rossi and scuppered his bid for the Parisian arts centre.

During his recuperation Rossi refocussed his consideration on a competition for the growth of the Neoclassic San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena. He hoped to put into practice the urban theories he had laid out in his 1966 text Architecture of the City, in which he stated that architecture must be embedded inside of the existing fabric of the city.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Maria Lucia Lusetti and Paolo Tedeschi

Although Rossi had previously completed several Modernist-influenced projects in the 1960s like a housing scheme in Milan, the cemetery is his initial project to reflect Postmodern aesthetics and values.

The layout, which took spot in two phases between 1971-6 and 1980-8, draws on the detailing of the adjacent Neoclassical cemetery in a way that Modernism would have rejected.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

His appropriation of aspects from this preceding architectural design coupled with the adoption of a muted blue and terracotta colour palette is distinctly Postmodern in its approach.

“The Cemetery of San Cataldo was a turning stage in the lifestyle and work of Aldo Rossi,” stated Portuguese architect Diogo Lopes, writer of the just lately published Aldo Rossi monograph Melancholy and Architecture.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

Diogo said that throughout his remain in hospital, Rossi started “coming to terms with the thought of his own death,” and the expertise brought on him to re-evaluate his method to architecture.

“Perhaps as a end result of this incident, the venture for the cemetery at Modena was born in the small hospital of Slawonski Brod, and simultaneously, my youth reached its end,” wrote Rossi, who was driving to Istanbul when he had the accident and recuperated in the little town in Yugoslavia (now Croatia).

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

“I lay in a tiny ground-floor space near a window via which I looked at the sky and a minor backyard. Lying almost immobile, I imagined of the past, but often I did not feel: I simply gazed at the trees and the sky.”

Rossi’s advancement drawings for the cemetery show triangular, square and circular structures that resemble children’s developing blocks. The kinds reminded Rossi of Gioco dell’Ocha (Game of the Goose), a common children’s board game in Italy where gamers move along a spiralling route, encountering obstacles this kind of as a bridge, effectively, maze, and eventually, death.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

The aspects of the game can be interpreted in Rossi’s lurid-coloured programs for the cemetery in the metal staircases that ascend and descend the walls of the ossuary cube, the partially constructed colonnades that enclose the graveyard, and a cone-shaped tower in the centre as the ultimate square, a communal grave.

Rows of identically sized windows and doorways puncture the orange facade of the ossuary that is the centrepiece of the cemetery grounds. Rossi conceived this skeletal construction, which has no window panes, doors or roof, as a city for the dead.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

A concrete grid of funerary niches covers the interior walls and is accessed by way of a network of metal staircases. The regimented openings replicate the detailing of the cemetery’s enclosing walls, a function that in flip acknowledges the layout of the adjacent cemetery, which features tall arched colonnades and warm-toned render. In numerous approaches, Rossi’s extension with its column-lined walkways and enclosed graveyard is a lowered form of this original style.

The earthy toned facade of the ossuary and steely blue roofs of the perimeter buildings are a clear break away from the stark grey concrete favoured by Modernists in the preceding decades.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Diego Terna

“It was also the first task exactly where he used colour extensively with the sky-blue sheeting of the roofs, the pale rose of the stucco of the walls of the tombs, and the dark red of the cubic ossuary,” Lopes informed Dezeen. “This could be observed as an early signal of a attribute generally linked with Postmodernism.”

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Photograph by Massimo Alberici

Rossi’s styles for the Modena competition have been extensively published, generating the cover of Casabella magazine in 1972.

Close to the identical time an additional seminal event in architecture background took place: the Pruitt Igoe housing improvement in Missouri, made by Globe Trade Center architect Minoru Yamasaki in the early 1950s, was demolished.

Charles Jencks identified the dynamiting of the 33-creating complex as marking the death of Modernism.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo RossiOne of Rossi’s development drawings, courtesy of the Aldo Rossi Basis

Contemporary Architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3.32pm (or thereabouts) when the infamous Pruitt Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the last coup de grace by dynamite,” wrote Jencks in The Language of Publish-Modern day Architecture.

Looking all around for a new movement to replace Modernism, Jencks was drawn to the the function of Robert Venturi, Hans Hollein and Charles Moore – and Rossi, whose drawings for Modena perfectly fitted the new Postmodern method he had identified.

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo RossiInternet site program of the San Cataldo Cemetery, courtesy of the Aldo Rossi Basis

When Rossi was awarded the Pritzer Prize in 1990, the jury stated: “Rossi has been able to comply with the lessons of classical architecture without having copying them his buildings carry echoes from the past in their use of forms that have a universal, haunting high quality.”

“His operate is at when bold and ordinary, unique without having becoming novel, refreshingly easy in physical appearance but really complex in material and meaning,” they extra. “In a time period of various types and influences, Aldo Rossi has eschewed the fashionable and popular to produce an architecture singularly his own.”

San Cataldo Cemetery by Aldo Rossi Rossi’s model of the San Cataldo Cemetery

Rossi died in 1997 following a second, fatal auto crash near his residence in Milan. Right now his most crucial project stands partially occupied but incomplete, missing its conical chimney-like tower and a branch of its covered walkway.



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