From Urban Experiences to Architectural Narratives

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Trova, Vaso
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Cities are a densely coded context for narratives of discovery and the recovery of experience. They have a capacity to act as condensers of information and to integrate assimilations of behaviours, people, styles, typologies, forms, ideas. Cities are comprehended through spatial practices. Movement in the city is a major practice which enables us to accumulate and organize urban experiences. It creates spatial narratives containing memories and views, specific places, objects, beginnings and ends, distances, shadows, buildings or parts of them, encounters, signs and panoramas. Urban space becomes intelligible through sequences of movement. Its complexity, mystery, splendour, rhythm, are revealed and interrelated through the route of the urban dweller. Similarly to urban space, architectural space is perceived in terms of sequences and spatial practises. According to Jean Nouvel "To erect a building is to predict and seek effects of contrasts and linkage through which one passes...in the continuous sequence that a building is...the architect works with cuts and edits, framings and openings...screens, planes legible from obligatory points of passage". This parallel is being used as the underlying idea for introducing first year students to Architectural studies at the Dept. of Architecture, University of Thessaly. The didactic approach takes for granted that students are accustomed, although rather unconsciously, to navigate into the urban context and to understand its multi-layered and multi-informational structure. Therefore it tries to draw gains from previous experiences undervalued or though to be completely irrelevant to students expectations. The idea of spatial narrative as structured by the student becomes the spine line for realizing that architecture is a complex structure, it exists in the dimension of time and movement, it becomes important not as an object of art but during a process of inhabitation and that it has the power to shape human practises.
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