Some Type of Way

Aldo Rossi’s 1971 Cemetery of San Cataldo demonstrates a key principle of the contemporary flea market and introduces new questions of semantics as well. The project, a proverbial “City of the Dead,” is characterized by a scheme of bare forms that reject programmatic ties. Thus Rossi’s forms become “generic vessels” in which new significance can be placed, ultimately suggesting one of the flea market’s primary arguments — that form is independent of content (function or meaning). However, the culturalist attitude should not be forgotten here. What of those traditional architectural forms that do indeed carry inherent content? What is to be made of typologies, those base elements of architectural language that do indeed serve specific functions, what one could call the last ‘solids’ of architecture?

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