Archescape. The Piranesi flights
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Piranesi's Campo Marzio has been at the focus of Gijs Wallis de Vries' academic career. It comes as no surprise therefore that after his doctoral dissertation on the subject in 1990, an illustrated English version of his observations appears today. The interpretation of 25 years ago has acquired a more haptic dimension in the form of three-dimensional models for an exhibition. Four graduate students researched and realized this three-dimensional interpretation: Manon Deijkers, Christian Hazeleger, Mieke van Herwijnen and Jorrit Klaver.
Gijs Wallis de Vries' reading of Piranesi's Campo Marzio is about two different types of spatial experience he has identified in Piranesí's reconstruction of old Rome, two ways of 'tuning' spatial experiences using architectural elements to orchestrate the impression of blended styles and scales of various buildings. Piranesi imagined a splendid version of what had been left of ancient Rome: its ruins and vestiges, as well as its preserved buildings, such as the Pantheon. Embedded in the way that Piranesi added parts of what may have been, to what has been left, Wallis de Vries observes basic differences:
1. A classical way of sequencing in order to provide the experience of a delicate balance, with a sense of equal 'weight,' on both sides of the observer (four types of such ways of lining up are demonstrated in the exhibition), and
2. Another type of coherence in which the relation between the observer of architectural and landscape elements suggests movement, very much controlled, in order to raise the experience of a 'tension', a kind of ballet performance with fireworks, and the symphonies from Piranesi's time (four types of such sequences are demonstrated in the exhibition).
Wallis de Vries recently gave the name 'Archescape' to his reflection on what could link Piranesi's dreamlike archeology to contemporary architectural theory and practice. With this concept he continues his journey of discovery and interpretations.