THE ARCHITECTURE OF PUBLIC SQUARES. Continuity and Change in Urban Spaces from the 19th Century to the Present

organized by the research group "Piazza e monumento"

The foundations for art-historical research into public spaces were laid at the dawn of Modernity with the works on historical squares by Camillo Sitte, August Schmarsow and Albert Erich Brinckmann. Over recent years, the "Piazza e Monumento" project based at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut has intermittently also dealt with aspects of public squares and urban spaces in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These are now to be further explored within the framework of a conference that will address questions of continuity and change, of new parameters set by the avant-garde and the permanence of traditional patterns of urban development, as well as the influential "spatial concepts" of the "European city" since the late nineteenth century. The period under consideration will stretch into the twentyfirst century, to encourage the discussion of contemporary trends relating to the globalisation and commercialisation of architecture and public space. Papers will address ways of handling existing spaces, whose form and function are the result of a 'longue durée' of modifications and remodelling, but also the planning of new, homogenous spaces that can be implemented anywhere within the city. What changes can be observed in the relationship between interior and exterior in squares and public spaces within shopping malls, gated communities and virtual public utopias? Particularly considered in global contexts, public squares have demonstrated that they continue to play a central role in struggles for democracy and as spaces devoted to self-assertion - be it through the erection or destruction of monuments or through the performance of other social and political activities.

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattei
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze

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