L’histoire assassinée: Manfredo Tafuri and the present

Teresa Stoppani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This essay explores the relationship between architectural theory, architectural history and architectural design, focusing on the relationship between Manfredo Tafuri’s work on the “historical project” and Aldo Rossi’s projects and his writings on the critical nature of architectural design. The essay highlights the difficulties of writing a “history of the present’”, showing that the task of the architectural historian is even more difficult when the subject of its history is the design process, and an architecture still in the making which claims autonomy and criticality in itself. The polemical dialogue between Tafuri and Rossi in the 1970s embodied different and complementary voices of criticism in architecture. On one hand, Tafuri claimed that the critic could only be a historian, i.e. know the history and the context of the discipline, in order to formulate his critique. On the other hand, Rossi promoted a form of architectural design - typological, rational, but also highly personal and evocative – that always enacted a form of self-criticism, through drawings, buildings and words. Tafuri’s writings continue to instigate a dialogue between architectural theory and practice, developing a redefinition of architectural history as a critical “project” – thus appropriating the active and propositional role traditionally assigned to architectural design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe humanities in architectural design: a contemporary and historical perspective
EditorsS. Bandyopadhyay, J. Lomholt, N. Temple, R. Tobe
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780415551137
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2010


  • Architectural theory
  • Architectural history
  • Architectural design
  • “Historical project”
  • “History of the present”
  • Self-critical design


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