History

Comparison of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project to the Contemporary Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle

Using the methods adopted in ‘The Arcades Project’ of focusing on locating ‘history’ in every day and contrasting it to the past development of the arcades in attempt to reveal social and political implications of an architectural project, in relation to the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’ in Milan.

Walter Benjamin began working on his Arcades project in Paris, 1927 and considered the arcades to be ‘the most important architectural form of the 19th century’1. His study of the arcades investigates the composition of an epoch. the age of Industrial Capitalism, as seen and theorized by producers and consumers, politicians and intellectuals. He suggested that the building of the arcades signaled a dynamic shift, a change that was not only economic but also philosophical and technological, which had an effected over the way people thought about public life, interpersonal relations and social interactions. Benjamin had adopted a method of composition analogous to dream interpretation that had its relation to the surrealism of the 19th century. Where a dream is compiled through a combination of vivid, fragmentary images that can only be understood once assimilated piece by piece, to be inducted with a route into new forms of historical and cultural awareness by unexpected juxtapositions and connections. Benjamin’s intention for the project was to create a work that intersected on many levels revealing the vast interrelation and collision of multiplicities that occur at any given location. The arcades project took one site and exhaustively explored its meanings, functions and the social relations that occurred within it. Benjamin saw the arcades as a material replica of the internal consciousness of the collective2 in the perspective of the individual and the individual’s place in the city. Where architecture and town planning frames the way that the individual behaves, the ways in which one perceives oneself in relation to the world.&nbsp.

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