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Rational architecture

Rational architecture. Movement in late-C20 architecture that proposed reasonable and buildable responses to design problems drawing on order in urban fabric and on architectural typology. It evolved from the 1960s, prompted by Aldo Rossi's L'Architettura delle città (Architecture of the City—1966 and 1982) and Architettura Razionale, by Rossi and others, published during the XVth Milan Triennale (1973). Rational architecture embraced Renaissance theory, the bold Neo-Classicism of the C18 Enlightenment, and some of the architectural arguments of the 1920s. Its apologists insisted that its essentials, its laws, and its historical continuity confirmed it as an independent legitimate discipline. Unlike the theorists of C20 Rationalism and of the Modern Movement, the protagonists of Rational architecture saw the European historical city as a repository of great riches, composed of types that were primary, unchangeable, historical essentials in architecture incapable of reduction or subdivision. By rediscovering and redefining the formal vocabulary and language of architecture that had been so thoroughly disrupted (and even corrupted) from the 1920s they sought to reconcile Architecture, the City, and Mankind, for they argued that humans had become alienated by Functionalism, International Modernism, and the Modern Movement as a whole.

Examples of Rational architecture include Rossi's Apartment Building in the Gallaratese 2 Complex, Amiata Estate, Milan (1969–73), and Grassi's Students' Residence, Chieti (1976–84). Among the chief protagonists of Rational architecture were Botta, the Kriers (Léon being one of its most powerful polemicists), Reichlin, and Ungers. Some critics prefer to call Rational architecture Neo-Rationalism or the Tendenza.


Koulermos (1995);
Lampugnani (ed.) (1988);
A. Rossi (1982);
A. Rossi et al. (1973);
Jane Turner (1996)

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