Designing by narrative. An inquiry into architecture after 'De re aedificatoria'


  • Jose Manalvo Faculdade de Arquitectura, Universidade de Lisboa



Narrative thinking, narrativity, design


Alberti´s treatise 'De re aedificatoria' (1443-1452) is considered the source of an anthropogenesis of architecture (Choay 2004). The reflexion on this narrative hasn’t yet explained the connection of narrative and architecture disciplines, although frequent allusions to architecture/rhetorical features (Choay 2004) and to the architecture narrativity (Ricoeur 1998), focused on structural semantics approach (Greimas 1995). Recently, 'narrative inquiry' (Clandinin, Connelly 2004) and philosophy of stories (Currie 2010) started an approach centered in structures of knowledge, created an insight to 'narrative ways of knowledge' elevating narrative study’s to an entry tool to grasp reality (Herman 2003). Our focus is that 'narrative thinking' is encoded in Alberti’s 'lineamentum', allowing the translation from non verbal to verbal, and our practice as actants, operating from spatial to experience. In this paper we address the interactions of the disciplines, explain what we know by designing architecture through narrative, grasping fictions as a storyworld inhabited by actants, in order to create inferences and to fill the gap between opposite narrated domains, and to explain how does narrative thinking addresses cognition of 'what isn’t but has been', with examples from written, drawn and built narratives.


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Author Biography

Jose Manalvo, Faculdade de Arquitectura, Universidade de Lisboa

Doutorando em Arquitectura