Estudo Prévio is a digital journal from Centro de Estudos de Arquitectura, Cidade e Território of the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa. Its recent edition #FIVE/SIX features papers from the International Symposium PUBLIC SPACE: THE SQUARE IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY held in Lisbon in January 2012 and organised by Flavio Barbini. The journal may be accessed through ESTUDOPREVIO.NET and includes the following contribution.
THE REPUGNANT STAGE: A TRAGI-COMEDY OF BRITISH URBAN SPACE
The subject of this symposium is timely. The periods when the piazza as a type has undergone sustained study as an urban phenomenon, in the latter half of the nineteenth century as exemplified by Sitte, and in the post Second World War period with the development of townscape, were both times of immense transformation in cities, when traditional forms of urbanism and society were under severe pressure. In contrast, the period of reassessment which took place from the mid 1960s to the mid 1990s under the leadership of figures such as Aldo Rossi and the Krier brothers, was one of relative stagnation. In the present time, the urban situation has experienced a dramatic transformation over the last two decades as new development encroached on urban centres, but once again the piazza features as an identifying characteristic of urban quality, a word which might be applied to the most unlikely open areas of hard landscape and ‘space left over after planning’, as if the name itself was a guarantee of sophistication and pleasure.