Querini Stampalia Foundation

On a recent visit to Venice, Continuity in Architecture noted the changes that have been made to Carlo Scarpa’s masterly interpretation of the Venetian Palazzo, the Querini Stampalia Foundation. These changes are apparent even before entering the building, Scarpa’s delicate bridge is no longer in use as the entrance, and instead the visitor accesses the building from around the corner. This does seem to destroy the careful sequence of entrance spaces, although this was difficult to ascertain as the meticulous foyer rooms with their moats are now exhibition spaces. When CIA visited, they were blacked out to contain a geometric installation of tiny lights. The recital room was lined with transparent plastic, another installation rather than a protective device we hope. But the elegant courtyard garden, containing the moving water, appeared intact.

Hexagonal Plan

Never to make a hexagonal building is good advice for any architecture student, but sometimes nothing else will do. The Edgware Road Music Hall was a masterpiece of planning with segregated circulation systems for stalls and pit and not an inch of wasted space anywhere.

The Role of the Humanities in Design Creativity

Eamonn Canniffe recently participated in the above titled conference at the the University of Lincoln, hosted by Professor Nicholas Temple. Keynote speakers included Karsten Harries, Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of “The Ethical Function of Architecture”, Dalibor Vesely (Professorial Visiting Fellow at the Manchester School of Architetcure) Jonathan Sawday (Professor of English Studies at Strathclyde University) and the architect Eric Parry. Around the core of the discipline of Architecture, the influence of other creative disciplines and their relation to History, Philosophy and Literature were considered in a series of papers which explored themes such as Humanities and Modernity, and Humanities and the Public Realm.In his keynote paper, “The Responsibility of Design” Karsten Harries, remarked that against the repeated marginalisation of human values the purpose of the humanities was to open windows in the prevailing objective world, windows to transendence, predicting that the issues of spirituality and the environment would become the most significant subjects of debate in the future. The clarity of this idea seems particularly apposite when considered in relation to this image of The Collection, Lincoln (Panter Hudspith Architects 2005) the venue for the concluding sessions of the conference, framing the sublime grandeur of Lincoln Cathedral.

Nina Edge: Nothing is private

Following our earlier post introducing the Mechanical Drawing exhibition, we would like to offer a closer look at one of the most interesting exhibits. The following text is from the exhibition catalogue courtesy of Melanie Miller:


“The schiffli machine at MMU is allegedly obsolete, an allegation also levelled at some 200,000 pre-war terraced houses including my home. This coincidence stimulated investigation of the present and future uses for both the schiffli and the terraced house, by using each to articulate the other.”



The net curtain is a specific and loaded textile form, which can be viewed as a signifier of the identity and values of residents. Along with the front step, door furniture and front gardens it presents the outward face of the home to the world. The net curtain seeks privacy for the inhabitants yet, particularly in the case of back of pavement terraces, this can only be achieved with the co-operation of passers by.  You can look right through a net curtain if you get close enough to it, thus privacy is given by people on the street outside when nets give the signal ‘don’t look in’.




The proposed demolition of 472 terraced houses in the Welsh Streets of Liverpool has been marked by community fracture, national controversy and a complete loss of privacy to residents. The family size, income, occupation, health, age, tenure, and aspiration of each household has become common knowledge. Net curtains have been replaced with tin sheet as occupation is replaced with vacancy. Hence the net curtain was designed, embellished with four narrative images and the text: ‘Nothing Is Private’. Reading from top to bottom are: street, no bulldozers, recycle the houses, and front door, all rendered as continual repeat pattern in the net tradition of the terraces.  Since the images are rendered small, close and repeatedly they read as patterns, until close examination reveals their content.


Although produced for the ‘Mechanical Drawing’ exhibition, the work’s real context is the front window of the terraced house at 40 Kelvin Grove in Toxteth, where it was previewed for Liverpool Independents Biennial 06. As people passed the window a light was triggered, revealing the interior, the curtain and the occupants of the living room. “Nothing is Private” thus exposed both the ruthless process of land acquisition and the delicacy of production possible on the schiffli machine.



Thus a mechanical drawing device has been used as a tool of communication in a war of information. Interest in new and longstanding uses of both the machine and the houses has developed amongst audiences to date. The work poses the idea that nothing is obsolete until people stop using it; by choice and not by compulsion.



Mechanical Drawing

Back in December 2006 we posted a video of the extraordinary Schiffli machine which Dr Melanie Miller has used as the focus of a research project and exhibition. The machine is likely to be removed for disposal because it does not fit the standards of noise control and spatial economy required in the University. An exhibition of work by fifteen artists using the historic Schiffli embroidery machine (the last remaining machine of its kind) opened last night at the Holden Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The exhibition shows work including subverted domestic objects, such as Dixon and Welsh’s ‘Armchair Politico’, Kate Egan’s inflating and deflating quilt, ‘Stack’ and Nina Edge’s net curtain, ‘Nothing is private’. Wall pieces include huge figurative works by Alice Kettle, Nigel Cheney and Rowena Ardern as well as a quilt by Lynn Setterington. More intimate work is present in the form of a series of rag books by Jane McKeating; and Rozanne Hawksley’s ‘Anthem for Albion’, a poignant installation referencing global conflict. Sally Morfill, Isabel Dibden Wright, Jill Boyes and Melanie Miller play with the inherent repetition of the machine to create wall-based pieces, and Susan Platt has created a schiffli poem, ‘the Lost Thread’.

Nov 16th – Dec 14th 2007 Holden Gallery Manchester Metropolitan University
Mar 8th – April 27th 2008 The Hub, Sleaford
May 3rd – June 29th Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre, Sedbergh
July 5th – Sept 7th 2008 Macclesfield Silk Museum
Autumn 2008 The Knitting and Stitching Show, Birmingham, London, Harrogate

CLICK HERE for further information about ‘Mechanical Drawing – the Schiffli Project’

Yesteryear in Milan

The small Archaeological Museum on Corso Magenta in Milan hosts a new model of the ancient city of Mediolanum which helps explain the spider’s web of the present urban form.

A general view of the model, with north to the right

The ancient forum, situated in the vicinity of the present day Biblioteca Ambrosiana

The city from the south with the amphitheatre and the basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore

The city from the south east, with to the left the outline of the present Duomo and Piazza Duomo, and to the right the Baths of Hercules situated adjacent to the present Corso Europa

On the (Lisbon) Waterfront

The Council for European Urbanism (CEU) has informed us about a Symposium concerned particularly with the Lisbon waterfront projects:

The symposium will address the urgent issues raised by the Lisbon waterfront projects in the context of the C.E.U. Charter. We will debate a wide range of strategies for developing waterfronts drawing on examples of notable European projects. After a morning of expert presentations and discussion with participants, the afternoon will comprise themed workshops in which participants will have an opportunity to explore the issues raised in depth. We will close the formal sessions with a short plenary to feed back the ideas from the workshops, as a basis for constructing a Declaration on Waterfront Developments according to the principles of the C.E.U. Charter.

CEU Symposium Website

Best Brick Wall in England?

Moss Side Bus Garage, Manchester, has a splendid arch facing Princess Road, but the side elevation is even more remarkable: it swerves between colossal buttresses with flush Portland stone caps. All the details are odd. Even though it is blemished by signs and botched repairs this is one the best brick walls in England.