The Architecture of Analogy
: An Inquiry into Aldo Rossi's Theory of the City, the Discipline, the Type, and the Analogue

  • Cameron McEwan

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The aim of this dissertation is to put forward conceptual frameworks to inquire into and update the following theoretical categories of Aldo Rossi’s architectural production: the city as an artefact, the idea of type, architectural autonomy, history understood as collective imagination, and the concept of the analogical city. On one hand, our inquiry puts forward a close reading of particular aspects of Rossi’s formal and theoretical production, examining Rossi’s work as well as other commentators on Rossi’s work. On the other, the inquiry is supported by a selective reading of major figures as well as canonical theories and projects from the discipline of architecture. In both cases detailed readings of texts, drawings, built and unbuilt work is undertaken to extrapolate the theoretical categories as well as key descriptive characteristics. These develop the conceptual frameworks which are diagrams that visualise the relations between categories and characteristics.
    Revisiting Rossi helps us re-engage with architecture as a discipline that simultaneously produces its own historical-formal body of knowledge while co-determining the wider social imagination. The discipline has, in the last decades, become weakened by the continuing proliferation of unique architecture-objects and the rejection of architecture’s fixed terms of reference. By discussing the category of discipline, we point to future work on how architecture negotiates its formal condition and its societal role. We re-learn that architecture is an instrument that puts forward singular alternative ways of living – formal possibilities – and critical interpretations of existing conditions – theoretical alternatives.
    The primary method of inquiry is visual and literary montage. Simultaneously analytic and synthetic, montage provides a way to isolate theoretical categories and formal examples from the mass of material, then produce new insight by making connections between things otherwise different.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGraeme Hutton (Supervisor) & Lorens Holm (Supervisor)


    • Architecture
    • Aldo Rossi
    • Autonomy
    • Discipline
    • City theory
    • Urban history
    • Type
    • Political theory
    • Montage
    • Representation

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