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Structural Typologies: The Building and the City

Supervisor(s)  Klaas Goris & Floris De Bruyn 
Campus Ghent 
Language NL 
Studio or individual?   Studio 


Description of the project: 

When I speak of architecture rather than town planning, I do so for one reason: I think that this word covers everything, from building to the city, in the sense of Aldo Rossi’s book Architecture of the City. I think that a separation would miss the essential issue at hand: how to pose the question of the city as an architectural question. (Steinmann, 1995) 

This masterproof is based on a long tradition of working on heritage cities within Europe and was created some decades ago by P. Robbrecht and M.J. Van Hee. Central in this research project is the understanding of the interconnection of the historical, social and cultural landscape of a European city with limited habitants (more or less the scale of Ghent).  

This year we will work on the Baroque city of Noto in Sicily. The city was struck by two earthquakes three centuries apart. After the first one in 1693 the city was rebuilt in a version of baroque unique to the region. The second one in 1990 prompted the locals to restore once again the crumbling landscape. The destructive force of nature has been a source of renewal for the island of Sicily. 

During a research trip we will study the city and map its built heritage. We will look for existing typologies, analyse and compare them according to their structural similarities. Trough analysis of the ‘deep structure’ of types found in the city we will generate ideas that can be translated into contemporary architecture.  

Students are invited to select a site. The plot should allow a public program and consisting of two different scales: a bigger scale of 5.000 to 7.000 m² or a smaller scale of 500 to 1000 m2. The resulting design of the building should form a coherent entity with its surroundings and contribute to the urban fabric of the historical center of the city. 

Expected output: 

Architectural project with a public program developed in model plan and detail 

Study trip? (+ timing): 

Sicily – W34/44 1st Semester 2023 

References/Further reading:  

Rossi, Aldo. The Architecture of the City. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984. 

Diener, Roger, en Martin Steinmann. The house and the city: Diener & Diener: urban studies. Luzern : Boston: Edition Architekturgalerie ; Birkhäuser, 1995. 

Martí Arís, Carlos. Variations of Identity: Type in Architecture. Frankreich: Éditions Cosa Mentale, 2021. 

Puleo, Thomas J. ‘Baroque Disruptions in Val Di Noto, Sicily’. Geographical Review 100, nr. 4 (2010): 476-93. 

Rowe, Colin. The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays. MIT Press, 1982. 


Image: Google earth image of Noto + Malcontenta & Garches, Analytical diagrams, Colin Rowe