The Italian Townscape

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The Italian Townscape

Author: Ivor de Wolfe

24 x 19 cm | 7.5 x 9.5 cm
461 colour and b/w ills | 296 pages

Originally published by the Architecture Press in 1963, The Italian Townscape was written by Hubert de Cronin Hastings (1902 1986), under the pseudonym of Ivor de Wolfe, with photographs taken by him and his wife Hazel (alias Ivy de Wolfe). He claimed to have invented the word Townscape and used his position as proprietor/editor of the Architectural Review to promote it as a technique to inspire the creation of historically layered, visually stimulating, dense cities in the period of reconstruction and new towns. In The Italian Townscape, Hastings made his own statement, sharing his worries about the blandness of modern consumer society and celebrating Italian towns and cities as a theatrical background for everyday life.

Writing at a time when English people were migrating to the suburbs and cars were destroying the conviviality of cities, Hastings anticipated the return in recent decades to an ideal of public space, 'where the only true happiness lies at the centre'; . Hastings/De Wolfe rekindles our appreciation for individual urban elements: articulating his analysis through disparate themes: from the more obvious: 'streets' , 'advertising'; and 'pedestrian network'; , to typically idiosyncratic ones: 'Defensive armour' , 'constipation'; , 'toughies' and 'sissies'; and 'all creeping things' . The photographs evoke the Italy of Fellini's films, making it a forgotten classic of travel and photographic publishing whose lessons remain relevant today.