105th ACSA Annual Meeting Proceedings, Brooklyn Says, "Move to Detroit"

From Nolli’s Map to Tirana Hidden: Historical Fiction as Contemporary Urban Design Approach

Annual Meeting Proceedings

Author(s): Loris Rossi

This paper aims to explore how some fictions elaborated during the history of architecture can be applied as a methodology for a contemporary urban design approach. There are examples in the history of urban representation that can become useful design tools for exploring new territories and theoretical paradigms. The contribution of this paper is based on a series of design experiments and speculations elaborated during Applied Research activities operated in Tirana (Albania). In this framework, and before addressing the main topic, two important arguments will be underlined guide the reader: The first argument is that ideas drawn from the history of architecture can become operative instruments only if reinterpreted trough a theoretical and intellectual framework; The second one can be identified through the concept of workshop + exhibition as an effective practice in the field of applied research by design. Following the two above mentioned arguments, I wish to underline the value of city patterns as speculative design methodologies, and introduce two fundamental historical tools, which are important to understand this paper: Nolli’s Map of Rome (pianta grande di Roma1748), seen in our case as an interpretative tool aimed at defining the meaning of a ‘hidden frame’3; and the famous 1978 exhibition Rome Interrupted at MercatiTraianei in Rome, where Nolli’s historical map was used as a starting point to operate design speculations. Both cases have been observed from many perspectives and investigated thoroughly before the workshop Tirana Interrupted was developed in September 2014, at POLIS University in Tirana and later, in January 2015, at the UCLA Department of Architecture and Planning in Los Angeles. The concept of these workshops draws inspiration from one of the most important moments in the history of Rome, in 1978, when 12 architects invited by Giulio Carlo Argan and Piero Sartogo4 started working on the famous exhibition entitled “RomeInterrupted: 12 Interventions on the Nolli Map of Rome”. The main objective of the exhibition was to erase two hundred years of history characterized by speculation, thus reconfiguring an image of Rome starting from the plan drawn by Giovanni Battista Nolli5 in 1748.

Volume Editors
Luis Francisco Rico-Gutierrez & Martha Thorne