Among the new books this week, there were several focusing on the theme of “place.” Notably, Marion Harney’s Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place, edited by Amir Pasic, Borut Juvanec, and Jose Luis Moro.
In Place-Making for the Imagination, Harney explores the history, landscape, architecture, and intellectual background of Horace Walpole’s villa, Strawberry Hill. She evaluates “the villa and the landscape…as an entity” and argues that “Strawberry Hill embodies an entirely different set of ideas [from nineteenth-century Gothic Revival] to which the key lies in the cultural pursuits and theories of imaginative pleasure that Walpole engaged with” (pg. xiv). Harney makes use of Walpole’s writing and the historical context to alter conceptions of Walpole’s inspiration for Strawberry Hill, as well as to consider the setting of the villa as a crucial component of its architecture and identity.
The Importance of Place features articles presented at the fifth International Conference on Hazards and Modern Heritage held in Sarajevo, called “The Importance of Place.” The conference discussed “the relationship of places to each other, their architecture, and their experience with memory” and “the position of contemporary architecture in the historic urban landscape” (pg. ix). The articles themselves cover a wide array of subjects, including management strategies for urban areas, innovation in Italian architecture in the twentieth-century, conservation, and case studies. Almost all directly discuss Sarajevo or Bosnia and Herzegovina, creating an ideal environment for the attendees to discuss and consider the challenges of Sarajevo in particular: a fifteenth-century city ravaged by war from 1992-1995, now adapting and seeking to blend its history with modern needs.
Both Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place contemplate the history and settings of architectural features. The interaction between setting and architecture is a crucial component of what makes a place. Architecture is influenced by the setting, and the setting is forever changed by the architecture. The landscape is a place in its own right, as is the building, but only when taken together can the totality of the place become clear.