How many times have we paused while reading a book and had the feeling that we were inside a structure built, knowingly or unknowingly, by the writer? Not simply the ability to picture in our minds the locations or architectural settings described in the text, but rather the sense of being immersed in a space, a literary space, designed by someone else.
Architectural metaphors are often used in the discussion of literature, as in “the architecture of a novel”. In any real architectural project, there are ideas that need to be designed and conveyed, a supporting structure, sequences of spaces, surprises and suspensions, hierarchies of space and function, and so on. In creative writing, many of the challenges seem to be similar. For example, how should different strands of narrative be intertwined? How can chronology be rearranged in a plot sequence? How is tension expressed? What do certain narrative sequences and omissions convey or mean? How do characters connect?
As a cross-disciplinary workshop, the Laboratory of Literary Architecture can be adapted specifically for writing, literature, and architecture students, as it explores how pure, spatial, wordless thought is an essential aspect of both literary and architectural structures. However, the LabLitArch approach to literary and spatial analysis and discovery has been successfully adopted also by high schools and theater programs.
As Alice Munro said: “A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” (Selected Stories, 1968-1994)
THE JOY OF CARDBOARD, GLUE AND STORYTELLING
A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY EXPLORATION OF LITERATURE AS ARCHITECTURE
“The process of adding word to word is much the same as adding brick to brick. … I can’t think of a better course where the purposes of two arts are so finely blended.”
“… one of the strangest and most interesting classes I’d ever seen.”
The Paris Review
“… rarely has architecture served the same function for writing as writing has served for architecture: to analyze and clarify.”
“The Laboratory for Literary Architecture pushes students to compose through their model a fictional architectural experience.”
“A stunning intellectual experiment.”
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The Laboratory of Literary Architecture was created by architect/author/illustrator Matteo Pericoli. In 2010 Mr. Pericoli held his first workshop at the Scuola Holden in Turin, Italy, assisted by engineer/writer Giuseppe Franco. Since then, former LabLitArch and architecture students have joined Mr. Pericoli as teaching assistants. The course has been taught in the U.S., in Italy and in Switzerland, and the team of TAs varies according to each workshop’s location and need. To date, some of the writing and architecture TAs have included: Josy Battaglia, Alice Zanotti, Chiara Zingariello, Francesco Gallo, Valerio Codispoti, Tal Harel, Amedeo Luviè, Bridget Potter, Kevin Le, Lorenzo Villaggi, Chelsea Hyduk. In July 2015 LabLitArch was invited to participate in the Turin International Architecture Festival organized by the Fondazione Ordine Architetti of Turin, in December 2015 by the Polo Poschiavo (Switzerland), and in April 2016 by the University of Jerusalem, Israel. A team of selected collaborators will participate in a New York-based OuLiPo project.
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