Blog 3-Una Hayes: Milan, Italy.

Una Hayes – 113473918

The third and final blog focuses upon the influences from consumption, leisure and tourism research which has drawn geographers to turn increasingly to leisure in urban spaces. In relation to architecture, geographic researchers have focused almost exclusively on the shopping mall as the main site by which postmodern spaces of consumption are affected most conspicuously by architectural design. This blog enables me to draw upon the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is situated in the heart of Milan, where we were lucky enough to visit a past of our geography trip last year.

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(Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II The ‘Dome’)

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a rather impressive building, as its dimensions form a Latin cross. These four walkways meet at an octagonal central piazza underneath a very large glass dome. The Galleria’s architecture symbolises Italian unity and self-confidence  and this is shown in its beautifully decorated arcade of patriotic symbols. Colourful mosaics are embedded onto the floor below the dome, which resemble a wolf for Rome, a lily for Florence and a white flag with a red cross for Milan. Architectural geographers fuse together material-historical and symbolic analyses of shopping malls to prove that the shopping mall operates as a complete environment where people can live out leisure fantasies. The physical structure of the mall, its controlled atmosphere and visual references to fantasy landscapes are designed to subtly and not-so-subtly persuade consumers to buy.

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(Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, facades and structures)

The intricate architecture of the facades, situated below the glass roof of the arcade, honour Italian artists and scientists. Due to it’s outstanding presence and architecture, along with holding the world’s most upscale stores, the Galleria is constantly crowded with people both tourists who come to window shop and the richest of the rich who come to splurge. During the years 1865 and 1877 when it was being built the urban architectures and urban geographers obviously envisioned the value of alternative, artistic and ironic interventions into urban space which attempt to subvert the consumerist and undemocratic cities through which global capitalism operates today.

Bibliography

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, (2015) ‘A View on Cities’ Victor Emanuele II Gallery, pp. 1-2
  • Kraftl, P. (2009) ‘Urban Architecture’ International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, pp. 24-31

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