The Italian architect Aldo Rossi (1931–1997) is one of the best-known modern architects who was awarded the renowned architectural Pritzker prize. Like his architecture, his lively, colourful drawings, with their geometric forms and models from ancient times, bear Rossi’s unmistakable signature.

The exhibition at the Museum of Architectural Drawing, in collaboration with the Fondazione Aldo Rossi in Milan, presents over 110 works by the architect, most of which are being shown publicly for the first time.

The title of the show’s exhibition Insulae (Ital.: islands) refers on the one hand to the series of works in the exhibition as well as one of the series of drawings presented, and on the other hand to the term isolato (Ital.: isolated) in reference to the chosen single location of most of Rossi’s projects, such as the Schützenstraße quarter.

An introduction to Rossi’s drawings is provided by the series Corpus Mediolanensis, consisting of coloured and reworked single-print graphic works, which afford an overview of 30 years of Rossi’s design work.

A special role in Rossi’s work is held by Insula, a series of drawings inspired by models from antiquity and their reinterpretation in the works of Baroque artists such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Claude Lorrain.  In complete contrast to the zeitgeist of the 1970s, which animated architects and artists with the hope of creating a better architecture or even a better society by breaking with the past, Rossi found his models in the buildings of earlier centuries. On this basis, he developed his own architectural language with the very characteristic geometric forms that have been found in architecture since ancient times, such as triangles or cylinders, and which undergo re-interpretation in Rossi’s work.

As well as his native Italy, Berlin has played an important role in the Rossi’s career: he designed unique projects for the German capital, some of which were realised while others, such as the project for the German Historical Museum, remained on paper.