Candide No. 7 — 10/2013 — Encounters
A Conversation on the Housing Question, Academic Intrigue, and an Italian Maestro
The intrigue surrounding Aldo Rossi’s appointment at the ETH Zurich and the media debate concerning Jörn Janssen’s experimental seminar there were not only decisive episodes that set the course of political events at the institution in the early 1970s. The scandal also stands for a paradigm shift in European architectural discourse, moving the idea of architecture’s core meaning from the realm of the social to the realm of culture. In the course of this paradigm shift, the university administration sought to refocus the core competence of the architectural discipline on design, and—by means of a corresponding interpretation of Aldo Rossi’s concept of autonomy—to detach the societal relevance of the architectural project from explicitly political questions. Forty years later, two protagonists of the 1972 events met in Paris. Jörn Janssen and Bruno Reichlin, the latter a former assistant to Aldo Rossi, discuss the background of the controversy, recalling the expectations of reform, the realism and the disillusionment of the post-1968 period, and elucidating the political motivations and theoretical foundations of their actions at the time. Their conversation highlights points of contact between the attitudes—generally regarded as irreconcilable—of empirical social critique and architectural autonomy.
Candide No. 7, 10/2013