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San Rocco 14:

66

1966 was a promising year. Aldo Rossi published “The Architecture of the City” and Robert Venturi came out with “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture”. Everything seemed set for a productive critique of Modernism and the development of a more mature approach to the intricacies of architecture. Architecture seemed on the verge of rediscovering its collective nature and about to refound its knowledge starting from the city. In the meantime, a few extraordinary projects were made. (San Rocco, the Football Hall of Fame, the History Library). 
Then things started to go wrong. In May 68 the laziest generation in the history of the West decided to celebrate its fake revolution. They wanted l’imagination au pouvoir and spent time searching for the beach under the street pavement. For reasons that we fail to understand European socialists could not resist following this bunch of idiots and left neo-liberals in complete control of common sense for the fty years to come. “No sign is a good sign” wrote Henri Lefebvre, and armed with this invincible intellectual weapons the European working class was ready to be stabbed to death by the primitive truisms of Margareth Thatcher. In this tragicomic intellectual and political climate, architecture was ready to start experimenting all sorts of self-in icted nonsense, from postmodernist “hirony” to deconstructivist “criticality”, from star-architects to the 1001 revivals of “Architecture Without Architects”, from freelove communes to “green cities” in the Saudi desert. 
Now, forget all of this and let’s move back at the point where things started to go wrong. Forget all the pretentiousness and suicidal complication of French Theory, forget its pathetic architectural adaptations. Let’s be more humble and more direct. Also, let’s limit the discussion to architecture, and let’s take the freedom to speak plainly and (in case) have a good word for good architecture, beyond the obscurity of a self-imposed intellectual dress code. Back to 1966. Back to an obviously idealized 1966. 
1966, in this context means rst of all the books by Aldo Rossi and Robert Venturi and the projects by the same Rossi and Venturi but also of Giorgio Grassi (at the time still collaborating with Rossi) and James Stirling. This is certainly the core of the work that – more in general – this magazine is trying to revive, the incredibly rich eld that too soon was left unexploited and that can (or at least we hope so) be reactivated in contemporary architecture. We propose to look at these works as a key to look at other works that can be associated with them. As a consequence, our starting point is relatively simple and plain. And of course, you can argue that we speak about this thing again and again and that we are running out of ideas (indeed we are), but at the same time we think it would be good to be as clear and unequivocal as possible before concluding this adventure. So here are a few reasons why architecture of 1966 looks so bright and so promising to us: 

• 1 • 

In 1966, Rossi and Venturi were serious. Their work was not without humour, but it was clearly no joke. In 1966, Rossi and Venturi tried in earnest to imagine a new architecture. Their proposals were reasonable and realistic options to produce beautiful buildings and pleasant cities inside of two precise contexts such as Italy and United States of the time. Their work was neither utopian nor cynical. The possible results are at hand. 

• 2 • 

Rossi and Venturi’s architecture – compared to the architecture of the Modern Movement – had a very different relation to the city and to the history of architecture. This architecture was based on the city and on the architecture of the past – and so it implicitly recognized a multiple subject (the city as found) as the standing point of any architecture. Contrary to the liberal anthropology presupposed in Modern Architecture, the subject of this intellectual construction was plural from the beginning. 

• 3 • 

Rossi and Venturi’s architecture of 1966 was not just made starting from a collective experience, but also addressed to a collective subject. Beyond any romantic individualism, this architecture was committedly public and common. For all the retreat into autobiography and self-commiseration of Rossi after 1966, before this date his work was open and ready to be appropriated by anybody. 

• 4 • 

Rossi and Venturi’s architecture did not really care about “being contemporary”, at least in the terms established by the Avant-gardes. It seems that for them (once again, at least in 1966) the correspondence of their work to the Zeitgeist could be taken for granted – or at least should not be frantically veri ed every second minute. This relative ease with time, this mild disbelief towards historicism (quite surprising for a Italian Marxist like Rossi) resulted in a certain diachronic freedom. The times of Rossi and Venturi’s architecture were many. These buildings could move easily into the future because they easily related to the past. Their time was not strictly de ned; unforeseen events could take place. 

• 5 • 

Rossi and Venturi’s architecture, at least for a brief moment around 1966, was not just an accumulation of fragments. It clearly searched for a classical unity. The plurality of the presuppositions of this architecture (the plurality of its subject) corresponded to a committed quest for unity in the nal output of the process. The buildings were simple and without excessive ambitions in broadcasting particular “messages” (this is particularly remarkable in pre-Scott Brown Venturi). This unity corresponded to the incredible generosity of these works, that did not exclude anybody form their potential audience. These buildings were – possibly for the last time before an era of architecture for market niches – addressed to everybody

• 6 • 

Rossi and Venturi’s architecture, in 1966, was about space. The complexity of the city corresponded to the spatial articulation of the buildings, to their positions in the urban scene, to the at articulation of possible planes inside of their facades. The complexity was not exposed textually, but spatially. Venturi in 1966 was still quite a bad writer (Denise Scott Brown would incredibly improve the sharpness of his arguments), but he did not enforce a consistency of a “textual” kind onto his buildings – and as consequence his buildings were incredibly more opaque and rich than the dry, didactic ones of the Scott Brown era. For Rossi and Venturi in 1966 there was no semiotics, no iconography, no jokes. No sheds and no ducks. 
The fantastically generous architecture of 1966 is an excellent starting point also for an equally glorious architecture of today.
Fifty years after 1966, let’s start again. And with more innocence, more stubbornness, and – this time – let’s try not to give up immediately. 
San Rocco 14 ask you to restart from this list of 66 things done in (an ideal) 1966: 

Franco Albini, Franca Helg, Bob Noorda 
Metro line 1 
Milan, 1964 

Woody Allen 
Take the Money and Run, 1969 


John Baldessari 
Wrong, 1967 


Francis Bacon 
Portrait of George Dyer Riding a Bicycle, 1966 

Luis Barragán, Jesús Reyes Ferreira, and Mathias Goeritz
Satélite towers, 1958 

Samuel Beckett 
Le Dépeupleur, 1970 

Ingmar Bergman 
Persona, 1966 

Thomas Bernhard 
Verstörung, 1967 

Lina Bo Bardi 
MASP 
Sao Paulo, 1968 

10 

Cini Boeri 
house 
Maddalena, 1967 

11 

Piero Bottoni 
City Hall 
Sesto San Giovanni, 1967 

12 

Robert Bresson 
Au hazard Balthazar, 1966 

13 

Marcel Breuer 
Whitney Museum 
New York, 1966 

14 

Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni 
Allunaggio seat,1966 

15 

Peter Celsing 
Bank of Sweden 
Stockholm, 1976 

16 

Alejandro De la Sota 
housing in calle del Prior 
Salamanca, 1963 

17 

Friedrich Dürrenmatt 
Die Physiker, 1962 

18 

Miguel Fisac 
Hydrographic Studies Centre 
Madrid, 1963 

19 

Peter Fischli, David Weiss 
Der geringste Widerstand,1980 

20 

Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola 
housing Residenziale Ovest 
Ivrea, 1971 

21 
Roberto Luís Gandol 
Petrobras headquarter 
Rio de Janeiro, 1972 

22 

Ignazio Gardella 
theatre 
Vicenza, 1969 

23 

Frank Gehry
World Savings and Loan Branch Los Angeles, 1982 

24 

Alberto Giacometti 
Cat, 1954 

25 

Giorgio Grassi and Aldo Rossi 
San Rocco housing scheme 
Monza, 1966 

26 

Vittorio Gregotti 
Il territorio dell’architettura, 1966 

27 

Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel 
Whig Hall 
Princeton, 1972 

28 

Helmut Hentrich, Hubert Petschnigg 
Phoenix-Rheinrohr Society Building 
Düsseldorf, 1960 

29 
Werner Herzog, 
uch Zwerge habe klein angefangen,1970 

30 

David Hockney 
Beverly Hills Housewife,1966 

31 

Hans Hollein 
Retti candle shop 
Vienna, 1966 

32 

Arne Jacobsen 
Sports hall 
Landskrona, 1964 

33 

Stanley Kubrick 
Dr. Strangelove 
1964 

34 

Ricardo Legorreta 
Nissan factory 
Ciudad Industrial del Valle de Cuernavaca, 1966 

35 

Sergio Leone 
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966 

36 

Sigurd Lewerentz 
ower kiosk
Malmoe, 1969 

37 

Enzo Mari 
putrella, 1958 

38 

Paulo Mendes da Rocha 
pavilion of Brazil 
Osaka, 1970 

39 

Rafael Moneo 
Logrono City Hall 
1980 

40 

Pier Paolo Pasolini 
Medea 
1969 

41 

Cesar Pelli 
Paci c Design Center 
Los Angeles, 1975 

42 

Pink Floyd 
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967 

43 

Gianugo Polesello 
Of ces for the Italian Parliament,1966 

44 

Sigmar Polke 
Girlfriends,1966 

45 
Cedric Price 
Potteries Thinkbelt, 1966 

46 

Gerhard Richter 
Onkel Rudi, 1965 

47 

Richard Rogers 
Rogers House, 1968 

48 

Ed Ruscha 
Talk About Space, 1963 

49 

Mario Schifano
Giallo Cromo, 1962 

50 

Rolling Stones 
Aftermath, 1966 

51 

Mark Rothko 
Central Triptych, 1966 

52 

Eero Saarinen (with Kevin Roche) 
John Deere headquarters 
Moline, 1964 

53 

Kazuo Shinohara
house in white 
Tokyo, 1966 

54 

Alvaro Siza 
swimming pool 
Leça de Palmeira, 1966 

55 

Alison and Peter Smithson 
The Economist building, 1965 

56 

SOM 
McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope 
Kitt Peak, 1962 

57 

Ettore Sottsass, Perry A. King 
Valentine typewriter, 1968 

58 

James Stirling 
History Faculty Library 
Cambridge, 1968 

59 

The Stooges 
The Stooges, 1969 

60 

Kenzo Tange and Arata Isozaki 
Expo 70 
Osaka, 1970 

61 

Andrei Tarkowsky 
Andrei Rublev, 1966 

62 

Stanley Tigerman 
Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 1978 

63 

Oswald Mathias Ungers 
housing Grünzug Süd 
Cologne, 1965 

64 

Robert Venturi 
National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame 
New Brunswick, 1967 

65 

Joao Bautista Vilanova Artigas 
Estação rodoviária de Jaú, 1973 

66 

Paolo Volponi 
La Macchina mondiale, 1965 

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