Tag Archives: base building

ROMA 3 – URBAN MORPHOLOGY COURSE second semester 2022


















FOR INFORMATION,  mail     gstrappa@yahoo.com


The course in Urban Morphology, optional, in English, provides 6 credits and is open to all students, including Erasmus ones.

The purpose of the morphological studies proposed by the course is the knowledge of the characters of the built environment and the recognition of its formation and transformation, having as ultimate goal the architectural design open to multiple esthetic synthesis.

It aims to teach a method of reading the physical form of the city through the understanding of the forming process common to urban fabrics and buildings, The term “reading” not indicates the neutral recording of phenomena, but an awareness which requires the active and dynamic contribution of the reader.

The basic notions of urban organism and forming process will be provided.


The course will consist of:

  1. a series of lectures (see schedule) aiming to provide the student, through the morphological/processural method, with the tools to read the built environment, historical and contemporary, having the architectural design as its goal. Some independent lectures could be given by external professors or experts, on complementary subjects.
  2. “morphological walks”. Field surveys organized to examine in the Rome historical center the fabrics and buildings under study.
  3. Students who intend to apply the reading method through a simple design proposal (exam form 1, see above), will be followed weekly through work reviews by the teachers.


Students will be evaluated through an oral test. They will choose one of the following forms of exam:

  1. Discussion of a simple design proposal derived from the theoretical studies.

Documents required:

  • study plan of the morphology of the place
  • study plan describing the formation of the proposal by phases
  • Plan of the design proposal (at urban scale) derived from the morphological reading and architectural interpretation of the place.
  1. Discussion on one of the theoretical topics listed in the course program.

The students will be free to present their individual notebook and all the works they consider useful for evaluation.


BasIc text in online format (in English)

  1. Strappa, L’architettura come processo (translated chapters), Franco Angeli, Milano 2015

The main chapters translated into English (useful to take the exam) can be found on the teacher’s website (http://www.giuseppestrappa.it/) and are indicated below:

Basic text in paper format (in English)

  1. Caniggia, G.L. Maffei, Interpreting basic building (pages. 53 –164) , Altralinea, Firenze 2017

A good translation in French (online) is: G. Caniggia, G.L. Maffei, Composition architectural et typologie du bati. 1 lecture du bati de base, traduit par p. larochelle, Université Laval, 2000 –http://www.giuseppestrappa.it/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/G.-Caniggia-Lecture-du-b%C3%A2ti-de-base-traduit-par-P.-Larochelle.pdf



Introduction. Meaning and utility of Urban Morphology for the contemporary architecture.

Course organization. Presentation of the program. Student registration.

 Territory: notion, forming process and contemporary condition.

Matter Material: notion, transformation process, contemporary condition

Substrata and urban fabric: the physical form of the city:  notion, forming process and contemporary condition.

Base building and substratum: base elements of the city: notion, forming process and relationship with urban pre-existence.

Field Survey: on base building topics.

Special building: forming process and contemporary examples.

 Architectural knotting: historic notion and transition to modernity. – Classroom work presentation (only for students who intend to deepen the topics of the course with practical exercises – see Exam 1 in the program).

At the roots of architectural composition: the notions of assembly and aggregation in history and in the contemporary condition.

Field Survey on special  building topics

Roman modern architecture

Conclusion. Short recap/summary of the course main topics (for the exam) and conclusions. Student opinions and suggestions.

Short pre-examination test (optional)









The most successful examples of a congruent and proportionate overlap of the modern city with the ancient one is in large part due to the “recasting process” of the existing urban fabric. The act of recasting is not the simple union of elements, it is a plastic modification, a collaboration that implies a structural mutation: the merging and gathering of the individual units into a single whole, into a new unity of a higher degree. The Renaissance palace is, when it derives directly from the fabric, a critical recasting, made with the decisive contribution of the architect who operates the aesthetic synthesis at the end of a “necessary” process. To fully understand its meaning it is essential to mention, at least, the matter of this recast, which, in many areas and especially in Italy, consists of single-family houses.  A particularly significant example, from this point of view, is the form of the dwelling house in the Roman area, whose roots date back to the types used from the XI century, in an environment that, due to the low population density, could be considered in large part semi-rural (26).