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The Venice Variations

Tracing the Architectural Imagination

Sophia Psarra

£22.99

ISBN: 9781787352407

Publication: April 30, 2018

From the myth of Arcadia through to the twenty-first century, ideas about sustainability – how we imagine better urban environments – remain persistently relevant, and raise recurring questions. How do cities evolve as complex spaces nurturing both urban creativity and the fortuitous art of discovery, and by which mechanisms do they foster imagination and innovation? While past utopias were conceived in terms of an ideal geometry, contemporary exemplary models of urban design seek technological solutions of optimal organisation. The Venice Variations explores Venice as a prototypical city that may hold unique answers to the ancient narrative of utopia. Venice was not the result of a preconceived ideal but the pragmatic outcome of social and economic networks of communication. Its urban creativity, though, came to represent the quintessential combination of place and institutions of its time.

Through a discussion of Venice and two other works owing their inspiration to this city – Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital – Sophia Psarra describes Venice as a system that starts to resemble a highly probabilistic ‘algorithm’. The rapidly escalating processes of urban development around our big cities share many of the motivations for survival, shelter and trade that brought Venice into existence. Rather than seeing these places as problems to be solved, we need to understand how urban complexity can evolve, as happened from its unprepossessing origins in the marshes of the Venetian lagoon to the ‘model city’ enduring a 1000 years. This book frees Venice from stereotypical representations, revealing its generative capacity to inform potential other ‘Venices’ for the future.

Praise for The Venice Variations

'Psarra animates the city as a creature that is based on the dialogue between anonymous collective and branded individual imagination. It reconstitutes the principles and ways of thinking that allowed Venice to act as a source of inspiration… It shows us how the natural city, and its mythological plots that we have in our minds, are being embodied in an open creativity. The book can be purchased in classic print or purchased electronically at no cost.'
slus.gr

'...a visual treat that is made more accessible and meaningful through the diagrams.'
A Daily Dose of Architecture Books

Sophia Psarra is Reader at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL). Her research addresses spatial, social, historical, cognitive and organisational dimensions in cities and architecture. Her activities have resulted in creative installations, design projects and publications. She has collaborated with cultural institutions on layout design, exhibition concept and visitors’ experience. As a practising architect, Psarra has been part of prize-winning teams in international architectural competitions.

Introduction: Between authored architecture and the non-authored city
1. City-craft: Assembling the city
2. Statecraft: A remarkably well-ordered society
3. Story-craft: The imagination as combinatorial machine in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities
4. Crafting architectural space: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital and the three paradigms 
 Part 1: The Venice Hospital 
 Part 2: Geometry and space from Palladio to Le Corbusier 
5. The Venice Variations: Tracing the Architectural Imagination 

'...a visual treat that is made more accessible and meaningful through the diagrams.'

  A Daily Dose of Architecture Books

'Η Ψαρρά ζωντανεύει την πόλη ως δημιούργημα που εδράζεται στον διάλογο ανάμεσα στην ανώνυμη συλλογική και την επώνυμη ατομική φαντασία. Ανασυνθέτει τις αρχές αλλά και τους τρόπους σκέψης που επιτρέψανε στην Βενετία να λειτουργήσει ως πηγή έμπνευσης.... Μας δείχνει πώς η φυσική πόλη, και τα μυθολογικά της παραπληρώματα που έχουμε στον νου μας, γίνονται φορείς μια ανοικτής δημιουργικότητας. Το βιβλίο μπορεί να αγοραστεί σε κλασική εκτύπωση ή να αποκτηθεί ηλεκτρονικά, χωρίς κόστος.'
  slus.gr

'Psarra animates the city as a creature that is based on the dialogue between anonymous collective and branded individual imagination. It reconstitutes the principles and ways of thinking that allowed Venice to act as a source of inspiration… It shows us how the natural city, and its mythological plots that we have in our minds, are being embodied in an open creativity. The book can be purchased in classic print or purchased electronically at no cost.' 

  slus.gr (translated from Greek

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

332 Pages

ISBN: 9781787352407

Publication: April 30, 2018

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