Process-typological approach – EPUM Platform

Process-typological approach


8. ‘Process-typological approach’, by Giuseppe Strappa’

In this short film (15 minutes), prepared for the EPUM project, Giuseppe Strappa offers a first insight on the origins, developments and main characteristics of the process-typological approach. The film traces the initial developments of this school of morphological thought in the works of Camillo Boito, Gustavo Giovannoni, Saverio Muratori and Gianfranco Caniggia. It then presents a definition of urban morphology as the study of form as the visible aspect of a structure in transformation. In such a definition, form refers to a formative process which can be studied as a design tool (a fundamental aspect in this approach). The way of reading the built environment, proposed by this approach, is based on two central notions: organism (as an integrated, self-sufficient correlation of complementary elements expressing a unitary aim) and process (as a series of actions that produce transformations in the built landscape). In this consideration of the built environment as an organic process, four concepts are highlighted: routes, poles, base building and special building. The film concludes with a number of fundamental goals of this approach: to understand the general structure of fabrics in their repetitive character; to establish hierarchies and scales; to recognise the typical and the exception; and, finally, to determine the order of things, the succession of ways of producing space, the base construction and the resulting specialisation.

9. ‘Typological approach to urban morphology’ by Giuseppe Strappa and Anna Rita Amato

This four-pages’ briefing paper prepared under the framework of the EPUM project, complementary to Resource 8 (authored by Giuseppe Strappa and Anna Rita Amato), offers an insight into the process- typological approach to urban morphology. It starts by defining ‘form’ as the visible aspect of a structure and by highlighting the strong relationship between ‘reading’ (or interpretation) and ‘design’ of the built environment, while acknowledging the importance of history in the reading process. The paper then offers an overview of the Roman School of Architecture: starting from its origins in the 1920s (with the monument-restoration teaching), moving on to its main developments (highlighting not only the individual contributions of Saverio Muratori and Gianfranco Caniggia but also of the schools of Florence, Genoa and Bari) and fundamental characteristics, and concluding with a reflection on its international impact. It identifies a number of key concepts in this approach: routes (including matrix routes, building routes, connecting routes and restructuring routes), nodes and poles, buildings (both base and special buildings) and urban fabric. Finally, the paper distinguishes two fundamental ways of analysing cities: the study of the urban system including the routes, the polarities system and the urban fabric; and the study of the visible part of building and architecture.

10. ‘Urban Design Methods: Muratori and Caniggia’, by Giuseppe Strappa

This is a lecture by Giuseppe Strappa in 2014, at the University of Miami, before the 22nd ISUF Conference that took place in 2015 in Rome. This lecture deals with a method of reading and designing the urban landscape that was developed in Rome, and it is divided into two parts. The first presents some key historical ideas (and their authors) underlying this method. The second part demonstrates how this method works by presenting some specific projects. In relation to the first, Strappa highlights that, as a whole, Giovannoni’ s intuitions, Muratori’s territorial visions and Caniggia’s reading of the organic transformation of urban fabric, enable architects to read the ‘message’ transmitted by both basic and special buildings and, in this way, to understand not only the built environment as it stands today, but also how it should be in the future. The method starts by analysing the territory, moving then to the study of the ground floor of buildings, then to identification of the buildings types, to the understanding of the different phases and processes of transformation of buildings, and, finally, to the effective design and construction of a new building fitting into the extant urban landscape.

11. ‘Saverio Muratori and the Italian school of planning typology’, by Giancarlo Cataldi, Gian Luigi Maffei and Paolo Vaccaro

In this ten-pages’ paper published in 2002, in the journal ‘Urban Morphology’, Giancarlo Cataldi, Gian Luigi Maffei and Paolo Vaccaro focus on the process-typological approach to urban morphology. It starts with a focus on Saverio Muratori, describing the Roman school (since his days as a student, in the 1920s, until the beginning of the 1970) and highlighting Muratori’s interest in history as a means of recovering a sense of continuity in architectural practice and his later work towards the design of a critical framework which could explain the creation and transformation of urban form over centuries. The paper also addresses the fundamental concepts of type, fabric, organism and operative history. The paper then moves to a description of the formation, development and dispersal of Muratori’ s team of assistants including the Bollati brothers, Caniggia, Figus, Giannini, Greco, Maretto and Marinucci. In describing this complex process, it highlights the role of Gianfranco Caniggia and his effort to simplify Muratori’ s theoretical system highlighting its more directly operative aspects. Finally, the paper focuses on the recent developments of this school of thought, particularly on the research group based in Florence, including his coordination of the Centro Internazionale per lo Studio dei Processi Urbani e Territoriali.

12. ‘From Muratori to Caniggia: the origins and development of the Italian school of design typology’, by Giancarlo Cataldi

Giancarlo Cataldi, a former student of Saverio Muratori in Valle Giulia, introduces, in this 2003 article, the cultural background, the influences and the issues that shaped Muratori’s architectural way of thinking. He explains the origins (Muratori and his influences) and developments of the main ideas of the process-typological approach (mainly through the work of Gianfranco Caniggia) and compares the work of Muratori and Caniggia. With regard to origins, Cataldi explains Muratori’s theoretical work, that deductively aimed at conceiving a philosophical system capable of interpreting the history of civilization. This theoretical work is grounded on six unsolved design problems that Muratori, during the course of his life, wanted to solve (each of these constituting a different section of the paper): i) the architectural issue of technique and language; ii) the philosophical issue of typological features; iii) the constructional issue of the built environment; iv) the urban issue of the development of towns; v) the geographical issue of the human environment; and, finally, vi) the historical issue of the development of civilization. After Muratori theoretical foundation, Caniggia contribution was crucial for the development, the progress and the diffusion of the process-typological approach, because he, among others, prove, in simple, general and accessible terms the applicability of Muratori design thought.