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The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture Within and Against Capitalism, Pier Vittorio Aureli, New York: The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University and Princeton Architectural Press, 2008

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Aureli advances a fresh, spirited and combative account of the idea of ‘autonomy’, connecting Italian architectural debates from the 1960s with the politics of class-autonomy that was being developed and advanced by workerist theorists such as Raniero Panzieri, Mario Tronti and Toni Negri. Aureli’s account focuses on Aldo Rossi’s architectural ideas (his Tendenza and his book The Architecture of the City) and the project of the No-Stop City proposed by the young avant-garde group Archizoom. The Project of Autonomy is not simply envisaged as an historical exploration of the 1960s; primarily, it is conceived as an intervention in current architectural theory (and cultural politics), drawing on the author’s interest in Tronti’s politics to challenge the contemporary popularity of a broadly post-Negrian ‘autonomism’. This review questions aspects of Aureli’s reading of Rossi and Manfredo Tafuri. Furthermore, although Aureli’s discussion of Red Vienna opens up onto vital questions of strategies for social change, which remain pertinent to contemporary arguments over ‘enclaves’ or ‘zones’ of resistance, his antagonism towards Tafuri prevents his argument from either exploring or advancing the debate which he has initiated.

Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds, Email:


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