Drawing the city – writing the city: Analogue as linguistic form

McEwan, Cameron orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0683-1708 (2018) Drawing the city – writing the city: Analogue as linguistic form. Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice, 3 (1). pp. 29-45. ISSN 2057-0384

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/drtp.3.1.29_1


This article, and the accompanying montages, approaches the theme of drawing on text through Aldo Rossi’s linguistic concept of the analogical city. I argue the analogue is a linguistic form that assimilates architecture’s history, transforms its language and develops the material into singular forms for combination and recombination, substitution and displacement, structured by formal syntax and association. The aim is to test the possibility of Rossi’s analogical city as a critical project to reassert the city as an architectural discourse and to develop the analogue as a theoretical and methodological device. The argument is developed through a suite of montages and by constructing a genealogy of the analogical city. The montages speculate about textual processes (seriality, syntax, association, substitution, displacement, combination, recombination)
using visual means. They visualize an analogical chain of association between elements of the theory and projects of the city of Piranesi, Le Corbusier and Aldo Rossi. The argument is staged in three sections to put forward a genealogy. The first section situates Rossi’s concept of the analogical city and links the formal syntax of Rossi’s collage project, the Analogical City: Panel, with Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Campo Marzio. The second section connects the analytical view with which Le Corbusier and Piranesi study Rome in their respective projects, ‘The Lesson of Rome’ and the ‘Views of Rome’, to elucidate linguistic operations including identification, abstraction, distillation and transformation. The last section puts forward the Ville
Contemporaine as an Analogical City by closely reading the Piranesian and classical elements of Le Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine plan. The conclusion is subtitled ‘The Linguistic Form of the City’ and I end with the need to reassert a linguistic approach to architecture and the city with its attendant critical, representational and collective ethos against current instrumental and individualistic discourse.

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