The “Details” Project


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The research stems from different sources, ranging from history of art (see the seminal book by Daniel Arasse, Le Détail, 1992) to architectural theory (Edward Ford, The Architectural Detail, 2011). Within the context of visual studies, the project investigates, through a series of case-studies, the notion of detail in order to unravel its double significance, which is at the same time constructive and formal-expressive.
The research analyses examples from post-WWII architecture, with a specific focus on the transformations occurred after the introduction of new forms of construction (the frame) and new building materials (reinforced concrete, steel, glass).
The research project aims to demonstrate that a section can provide crucial insight into the complexity of the architectural artefact, since it allows the simultaneous perception of materiality and form, of building envelope and interior spaces. From this point of view, the section acquires an iconic character.

The emblematic character of the section is highlighted through a series of panels, divided into three major thematic groups: Elements, Masters and Offices.
The first group of panels illustrates examples by taking a historical outlook on works by great masters (Mies, Perret, Scarpa, De La Sota, Utzon, etc.);
The second group of panels outlines the theoretical framework of our research. Depending on the compositional strategies deployed by the architect, the detail can result in different expressive outcomes: it can be isolated (punctum), it can be a part of a wider structural system (joint, Junktur), it can be reduced to a minimum until it disappears (no-detail) or it can be emphasized in its expressive nature, thus becoming mere decoration.
The third group consists of about 60 panels dedicated to a single contemporary architect or architectural firm asked to make a statement about their conception and usage of detail in their professional activity.

The online atlas, organised into the same three categories as the exhibition – ELEMENTS AND ISSUES, MASTERS and CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTS – has been designed as a virtual archive of panels, publications and videos.
Each panel is provided in low-resolution together with its written contents in plain text format. All the essays and articles that we have published about the subject are available in the “Publications” section.


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