This is a staple-bound artist’s book by Italian artist, architect, and theorist Gianni Pettena. Pettena rose to prominence as part of the radical architecture movement in Italy during the 1960s, but unlike many of his contemporaries, spent most of his career working with “the instruments and language of visual arts, instead of the more traditional ones of architectural design.”
Nature vs Architecture consists of eleven topographical maps of built sites. Many of the architectural forms are recognizable, even to a lay reader: we see cathedrals with their naves and transepts and apses, auditoriums, domed public buildings. As the book goes on, the topography of the land itself becomes more and more intrusive. The buildings grow closer together, more confused, until finally they intersect with each other, are interrupted by the land.
In keeping with Pettena’s resistance to the strictures of conventional architecture, this book pushes the opposition between nature and architecture to the point of breakdown. Architecture, suggests Pettena, must work in symbiosis with the environment, or be reduced to shambles in its path.