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Architecture as an Environmental Influence I
A Response to The Architecture of The City by Aldo Rossi
Rossi identifies the Architecture of the City as both an object and a subject. When considering the architecture of the city as an object, he explains it as "the city seen as a gigantic man-made object, a work of engineering and architecture that is large and complex and growing over time". While as the subject, the architecture becomes the soul of the city, which is intuitively composed of artifacts, urban artifacts that are manifestations of time through history. As a consequence, the recollection of history and the present experience, become paradigms, which in the literature are broken down in correlation with human psychology and responsive memory. These paradigms are the structures of the city and what create its perceptive aspects. At the same time, the architectural form that is experienced and lived is the urban artifact that defines a typology or style. A style of taste that lives on, as architectures like that of the Gothic, Medieval or Modern times. To me, this is a critical point in determining the influence of architectural history and design in the city. In fact, by Rossi choosing the experiential cause and effect of an architectural form, enhancing the manifestation of a structure, he speaks volumes of how cities develop individuality and primordial culture. This is what separates the epochs of the times, then and now. Still, Rossi understands that experiences are moments, which can allude to a specific time of structure, but they are not necessarily accurate to the full life of that structure. He says, "I repeat that the reality I am concerned with here is that of the architecture of the city - that is, its form, which seems to summarize the total character of urban artifacts, including their origins .... This is in part what we mean by urban morphology: a description of the forms of an urban artifact. On the other hand, this description is nothing but one moment .... It draws closer to a knowledge of structure, but it is not identical with it".
In essence, the architecture of the city, is the soul of a transgression of systematic events that occur before the city becomes. These systematic events include discrepancies in agriculture, politics, sociology, and advancements in daily influences such as technologies. The building itself, the object, with its spatial depth and form defines that moment in history, an architectural epoch of the time. This is where its typology is born, where typology is an established and/or function of the space. Rossi states, "So conceived function, physiological in nature, can be likened to a bodily organ whose function justifies its formation and development, and whose alterations of function imply an alteration of form." This is an important anecdote to understand the terminology and process of how such subject or object becomes an architecture of the city. When considering architecture as an environmental influence, we must know that there are many factors that come into play to define this structure. It is not only about the beauty and the physical anatomy of the structure but the surrounding artifacts in space and time, that define its presence in the environment. We do not care, as much, whether the building is physically appealing, but rather how the building lived on through time and how it influenced behavior and other environmental aspects. As Rossi reminds us, "When Bernini speaks disdainfully of Paris because he finds its Gothic Landscape barbarious, we are hardly interested in Bernini's psychology; instead we are interested in the judgement of an architect who on the basis of the total and specific culture of one city judges the structure of another city".