The Politics of the Piazza : The History and Meaning of the Italian Square book cover
1st Edition

The Politics of the Piazza
The History and Meaning of the Italian Square

ISBN 9781138279322
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

Through a detailed study of the principal spaces of Italian cities, this book explores the relationship between political systems and their methods of representation in architecture. Illustrated by contemporary photographs and analytical drawings, it examines significant piazzas and situates these examples in their social and political contexts, highlighting the urban evidence of shifts between autocratic and democratic forms of government through history. The ideological role of political architecture is analyzed through the work of various theorists including ancient sources, Renaissance thinkers and modern critics. The complex evolution of individual spaces over time is represented by their physical layering from ancient times to the present day. Other examples connect the development of different characteristic types of Italian urban form in chronological sequence, categorized by art historical and political periods.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I The Roots of Italian Urban Form: Rome: the centre of the city as axis mundi; Christianity: the development of new urban forms; The Middle Ages: from the city of God to the city of man. Part II The Early Modern City: Early Renaissance: perspective, representation and the ideal; High Renaissance: the modern city all'antica; Mannerism: the theatre of the city; Baroque: scale form and meaning. Part III The City and National Consciousness: Neo-classicism: style and political ideology; Risorgimento: the formation of a national urban space; Fascism: the urban language of authoritarianism. Part IV Urban Expression In An Age of Uncertainty: Neo-realism: urban form and la dolce vita; Neo-rationalism: Aldo Rossi and the rediscovery of typology; Labyrinths: the city of 'the years of lead'; The piazza and the politics of the present; Bibliography; Index.

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Eamonn Canniffe is a lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.


Prize: A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 'The Politics of the Piazza makes an important contribution to our understanding of the changing political landscapes that have influenced public space in Italy. The study succeeds in both being a chronological survey, demonstrating a breadth of knowledge of critical developments from ancient Rome to the present, and a series of insightful case-studies.' Nicholas Temple, University of Lincoln, UK 'Eamonn Canliffe's book is very important. It describes the spatial, political, and historical characteristics of Italy's heterogeneous public spaces...for any architect in search of inspiration it is tempting to see this as the most relevant book on Italian urban space since Camillo Sitte wrote 'City Planning According to Artistic Principles' in 1889 Architecture Today ’...The book is thoroughly researched, appropriately referenced, precisely written, highly reliable, and genuinely insightful...fills an important gap in the study of the history of cities and is a welcome addition to the literature on urban space. It should be of great interest to a broad audience, including students, tourists, scholars in various disciplines, and professional urban designers, and a welcome addition to many libraries...Highly recommended.’ Choice '[I] recommend the book to a variety of readers. Not only to those who are interested in the Classical examples of Italian square...but also to those who are looking for information on recent developments in the public spaces of Italy...Caniffe has provided a well-structured and well-partitioned book on the politics of the piazza. Not only is Italy the place to be for such empirical work, but also the case-studies in the different chapters are exemplary and insightful and illustrate very well the dominant political discourse in a specific period.' Bulletin of the Italian Politics '...The Politics of the Piazza is an important publication that provides a coherent, comprehensive, and fasc