Chora Four: Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture, edited by Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Stephen Parcell
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004
Paperback, 343 pages
The fourth volume in the Chora series, edited by McGill University's Pérez-Gómez and Dalhousie University's Parcell, take aim at models of architecture that value aesthetics and technology over alternative views of history and ways of thinking about architecture. Surprisingly, the resulting essays fall into a few types: early Renaissance, 19th-century British figures, other artistic disciplines, and chora, the "crossing of the human and the more-than-human worlds." For me, the highlights (roughly in order from most to least favorite) are Juhani Pallasmaa's geometrical reading of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, George L. Hersey's cosmic history of Rome's Colosseum, and David Theodore's look at architecture in the life of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. As well, Pérez-Gómez's essay on the overlooked Renaissance figure Fra Luca Pacioli and Robert Kirkbride's essay on the Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro give great insight into lesser-known parts of a highly influential and studied time. Much of the academic writing can be a bit esoteric, and Michael Moussette's staccato writing (e.g. "First we shall hunt. Very quickly. Just as an example.") in his piece on Gordon Matta-Clark borders on obtuse, but overall the collection makes for an enlightening read, opening up subjects and points-of-view to the reader.