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Title: Alternate Organics: The aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy
Authors: Imperiale, Alicia A.
Advisors: Boyer, M. Christine
Contributors: Architecture Department
Keywords: Architectural Prefabrication
Arte Programmata
Bruno Zevi
Italian postwar architecture
Rinaldo Semino
Systems Theory
Subjects: Architecture
Art history
European studies
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation reconsiders "organic architecture" in Italy in the 1960s by interrogating Bruno Zevi's use of the term in his <italic>Towards an Organic Architecture</italic> (<italic>Verso un'architettura organica</italic>) and examines the work of Italian architect Rinaldo Semino (1937-) to posit an alternate definition for the trope, "organic." Semino's work focused on the interaction of small, prefabricated units ("cells") as components that would aggregate into larger architectural structures--a methodology that prizes a simple rationality derived from the study of natural forms. I employ the term "alternate organics" to distinguish this particular method and design approach--which derives its core meaning from a careful study of rule based, or computational processes seen in nature--from the term's more general use that relies upon a fixed final form or style. Semino is, thus, a lens into others working in a similar manner, and a means to grasp a methodology that coalesced in postwar Italian architecture, which began with the economic miracle of 1958-63 and ended with the economic crisis of 1973. It was a period of startling changes in postwar Italy. Population boom and mass migration from the countryside and small towns to large cities created crises and reactions that were much discussed in the 1950s. By the 1960s, these discussions had clustered into the theme of the <italic>grande numero</italic> ("the Greater Number"). This dissertation considers some reactions to the <italic>grande numero</italic>, such as national, corporate, and international competitions that stimulated and supported architectural responses; technological developments, such as the computer and the photocopier as well as new materials; and new disciplines such as cybernetics and systems theory, that influenced how issues were philosophically investigated, for example, in the concept of "open work" in art (as the <italic>arte programmata</italic> movement), in architecture and urbanism (which considered newly designed, prefabricated components as an open system that could produce a megastructure-scaled project), and in new architecture (on the scale of territory). This dissertation considers how technofilia had its critics and consequences in the visionary response to a crisis in postwar Italy, and prompts us to think more deeply about our current technological reverie.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Architecture

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