About the Book

The iconic work (first published in 1948 in Italian, translated in 1957, and revised in 1974), Architecture as Space, by Bruno Zevi, depicts the history of architecture in light of its essence as space, animating and illuminating architectural creations so that their beauty-or indifference-is revealed. Aside from commercial and residential buildings, temples, palaces, and cathedrals, Zevi discusses structures such as fountains, columns, and monuments, subjecting them all to aesthetic, cultural and functional criteria and explaining them in an easily understandable manner. This is one of the most stimulating and provocative books were ever written on the history and purpose of architecture, featuring illustrations from all the history of the art, and is written for a wide range of audiences, including architects, artists, litterateurs, planners, journalists, sociologists, geographers, and the general public.

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Architecture As Space book_©Bruno Zevi

In different sections of this book, the information has been arranged towards learning about the unknown aspects of architecture, followed by the space as the protagonist of architecture. The content is different from other publications on the topic as its concept, scope, and form. It is the culmination of half a century of versatile expertise built on a deep and deep contemplation of Michelangelo, Bonnani, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Prototype of Modern Architecture.”

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Architectural without internal space – Sacconi; Monument to Victor Emanuel_©Bruno Zevi

Expansion of the Matter

An entity in which runs an undeniable quest for understanding a structure entirely through representations of the plan, sections, elevations, models, and photographs that exemplify creation and aesthetic appreciation artistically, this book is a mosaic of thoughts that a result from thinking about, feeling, reflecting on, and empathizing with a space. Because of these factors, freedom can only be perceived from an individual’s perspective if three-dimensional and interior elements are combined.

To build a house, the architect shows the exterior drawings and perhaps a perspective of the interior. After submitting plans, elevations, and cross-sections, he represents the architectural volume by breaking it down into vertical and horizontal planes that separate and contain its floors, roof, and exterior and interior walls. 

Plans are merely abstract projections of the walls of a building, which only have reality on paper, and are justified by the necessity of measuring the distances between the elements of the construction for their practical implementation. A building’s facades and cross-sections assist in determining its height. However, architecture does not merely consist of the width, length, and size of the structural elements surrounding a void in which a man lives and moves.  The key to understanding a building is to grasp its internal space. Regardless of how beautiful they may be, a house, church, or palace is only a container, the box formed by the walls; the content is the space within. The dimensions of architecture have expanded through the discovery of perspective and the graphic representation of height, width, and depth when applied to architecture. Thus, time is baptised as four-dimensional superimposing the images of objects viewed from different perspectives.

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Graphical Abstract of External and Internal Space_©www.exeley.com

The Space

In architecture, the space phenomenon becomes a concrete reality, thus defining its specific character. A space’s interior quality dominates and elevates a human to experience the space’s motion function as that of cathedrals. The experience of space, which we have indicated is characteristic of architecture, is also typical of the city, in the streets, squares, alleys and parks, in the playgrounds and the gardens, everywhere man has enclosed space by delineating or restricting a void. If, in a building, the space is bounded by six planes (floor, ceiling, four walls), this does not mean that five planes instead of six determine it, since, for example, a (roofless) courtyard or public square cannot be regarded as equal to the interior of the building. 

The experience of space one has while driving down a straight highway through miles of uninhabited flatland cannot be defined as an architectural experience as we understand it today. Even so, there is no escaping the fact that all urban areas are screened off by walls or trees, regardless of their view. It is evident from the fact that every architectural volume, every partition, constitutes a boundary between space and its surrounding environment, that each building is a machine that creates two kinds of freedom: its interior space, which is entirely determined by the building itself, and the exterior or urban area, which is determined by the building and its surroundings.

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The surface and volume represented in photograph – Palazzo; Rome_©Bruno Zevi

The Space and the Attributes

A continuous scientific and technological progress allowed the dissemination of poetry and literature, paintings, sculptures, and music at a vast scale, enriching the spiritual heritage of an ever-increasing number of people. While the reproduction of sound has almost reached perfection, the advancement of colour photography indicates the next few years will see a distinct evolution of general education in chromatic values, an area of visual experience in which the average level of understanding is still lower than it is concerning drawing and composition. 

However, architecture remains isolated and alone. The problem of representing space has not yet even been stated, far from being solved. The concept of architectural space has not been clearly defined or conceptualisbaptied. The most frequent methods of representing buildings in histories of art and architecture are plans, façades, elevations, and photographs. 

While a plan is drawn and understood in 100 different ways, it changes how an individual views the space, the procedure, and its purpose to render an abstract space concept. Essentially, it’s the representation produced in sections and facades to capture its geometry. However, models were employed to demonstrate its volumetric approach. Only the human scale is neglected to feel that space – the exterior and the interior. A person’s area concerning space is determined by their dimensions. In contrast to all these, a photograph of a building captures only its stature, which completely excludes the spectator’s perspective as he walks inside and around the building. 

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Zevi’s Diagram of Saint Peter’s Cathedral_©Bruno Zevi

Conclusion

Architecture is not just art; it is not merely a reflection of conceptions of life or a portrait of living systems. Architecture is the environment, the stage on which our lives unfold. Therefore, a space can be represented through plans, facades, cross-sections, models, photographs, and films. Each summarizes the essence of architecture, and each would be explored, enriched and improved by each individual perceiving it. The experience highlights through the interior enhancement. Architecture represents the moment when we experience space from a physical, social, cultural, and spiritual standpoint. The nooks and crannies of the area have been explored and expressed through virtual tools!

Thus, Bruno Zevi’s theory has great merit in combining architecture with a sense of interchange between human and architecture.

References:

  1. Yumpu.com (n.d.). Zevi – Architecture As Space,1974 p45-72-email – Drawing … [online] yumpu.com. Available at: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/35163217/zevi-architecture-as-space1974-p45-72-email-drawing-
  2. Anon,(n.d.) https://www.sweetstudy.com/sites/default/files/qx/17/03/12/03/zevi_architecture_as_space.pdf.
  3. aylinsen (2019). Bruno Zevi Architecture As A Space. [online] AYLİN ŞEN. Available at: https://aylinsen.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/bruno-zevi-architecture-as-a-space/#jp-carousel-3183
Author

Neha Lad, an Architect soon to be, adds a taste of design and creativity to the world of Architecture enhancing Nature as an added sweet dish, bringing unique flavor to the norms of Biology. She aspires to become an architect who depicts life in harmony with nature, where writing is her predominant mode of expression.

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