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L'histoire assassinee: Manfredo Tafuri and the present

L'histoire assassinee: Manfredo Tafuri and the present

Stoppani, Teresa (2010) L'histoire assassinee: Manfredo Tafuri and the present. In: Bandyopadhyay, Soumyen, Lomholt, Jane, Temple, Nicholas and Tobe, Renée, (eds.) The Humanities in Architectural Design: a contemporary and historical perspective. Routledge, Abingdon, England, pp. 214-225. ISBN 978-0-415-55113-7 (hbk) 978-0-415-55114-4 (pbk) 978-0-203-85944-5 (ebook)

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Italian historian Manfredo Tafuri develops his ‘historical project’ in architecture during the 1960’s and 1970’s in three seminal books, which reach the English speaking specialist audience with a certain delay. Histories and Theories of Architecture (1968), which prepares the ground for the redefinition of a critical and independent history of architecture is first translated in English in 1979. Architecture and Utopia (Progetto e utopia, 1973) is translated in 1976, and becomes a point of reference for architectural histories and for the definition of architectural theories, mainly in the United States. The Sphere and the Labyrinth (1980), translated in 1987, is the text which formally defines and presents the ‘historical project’.

Tafuri’s dense and highly politicized prose is often subjected in the English versions to numerous simplifications and reductive interpretations. Yet, the time lag and the space between languages that these translations occupy are inhabited by polemical and fertile reactions to the texts from the world of architectural design. Symptomatic of all, Aldo Rossi’s L’architecture assassinée, a rebuke in drawing to some of Tafuri’s remarks in Architecture and Utopia that seemed to suggest -but the interpretation is arguable– the ‘death’ of architecture as project (progetto).

Tafuri’s texts instigate a dialogue between architectural history and practice, particularly relevant at a time in the development of the discipline when history was being redefined in its critical role as a ‘project’ –thus appropriating the active and propositional role traditionally assigned to architectural design–, while architectural design –still coping with the legacy of Modernism and with changed production systems- often found itself relegated to the paper of exhibitions, competitions and theoretical projects.

This paper explores the relationship between architectural history and design in Tafuri’s work, focusing on recent reconsideration and interpretations of his work. It argues that, beyond instrumental simplifications, Tafuri’s ‘project’ remains active and essential in architecture’s critical culture today.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Chapter 18, in 'Part 4: The challenges of instrumental knowledge.'
Uncontrolled Keywords: humanities, Manfredo Tafuri, Aldo Rossi, history of architecture 1970s, the historical "project", Venice School, IUAV (Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia),
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Architecture, Design & Construction
School of Architecture, Design & Construction > Design Research Group
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:03

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