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Francisco Moura Veiga on Le Livre de la Cité des Dames
18 May, 2021
I came across this book whilst researching utopia and its built manifestations. While De Pizan’s book is not an architectural text, it does speak of the process of building a city, from foundations to detailing and populating. It proposes this new city in its materials, forms, and functions as a spatial manifestation of a message – a fictitious built manifesto. I found this striking as, without allocating any definitive meanings to forms or spaces, De Pizan proposes a clear connection between an intended message and the spaces that embody and materialise it. According to this proposal, the architect is placed in a position of utter responsibility for the correspondence between ideals and forms/spaces. I would like to add here a comment by Jill E. Wagner in ‘Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies: A Monumental (Re)Construction of, by, and for Women of All Time’:
…Reason’s throwing is a reminder that the creation of an authentic woman’s space requires force – the act of throwing. The architect cannot sit passively and hope for such a space to create itself.