Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
This essay discusses various aspects of the term “nostalgia.” Rather than an individual plight, it will be considered here as a symptom of contemporary society, which does not stand in contrast to modernity but is derived from it. Nostalgia characterizes humans’ connections to the past, to their sense of self, home and community. We reflect on how this affects our longing for home, how we envision our collective home, and how we place ourselves in the world. We distinguish three types of nostalgia: Restorative, longing for the restoration of a lost home; Utopian, transforming our longing into a utopian ideal; and Reflective, which differs by shifting the focus from recovering what is perceived as a loss of absolute truth to pondering questions of history and the passing of time. The essay focuses on nostalgia’s bearing on architecture, as demonstrated in the work of Architect Aldo Rossi. His oeuvre, in which the contemplation of time and memory are inherent, reveals all three forms of nostalgia, highlighting and questioning their centrality to architectural thought and practice.