Pianta di ampio magnifico Collegio...

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Piranesi's first plan?

1750   Pianta di ampio magnifico Collegio...

That Piranesi's engravings, however, present to us not merely a set designer's whim, but rather a systematic criticism of the concept of "center," is clerly shown in the Pianta di ampio magnifico Collegio (Plan for a Vast and magnificent College), inserted in the 1750 edition of the Opere varie di architettura (Selected Architectural Works).
The neomannerism of Piranesi's Collegio has led many to conclude that his research of the early 1750s was influenced by Juvarra and the architectural ideas of Le Geay, which John Harris--particularly through the copies of Le Geay's projects executed by William Chambers--has dated in the 1740s. More recent studies by Pérouse de Montclos, Gilbert Erouart, and Werner Oechslin have cast strong doubt on Harris's hypotesis...
But beyond a doubt, Piranesi's neocinquecentismo grew out of certain aspects of Juvarra's research. It has already been pointed out how Juvarra's design for the Duomo of Turin (1729) constitutes a reflection on the proliferation of spaces by gemmation that reaches paradoxical heights in Piranesi's Collegio...
Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth - Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987), pp. 27-28.

Piranesi also draws in buildings that never existed. They seem at first glance to be memories of buildings that could have existed; they look like buildings until one examines them as functioning buildings. This idea of a building as a trace of function is similar to Piranesi's project for the Collegio Romano [sic], which has a seemingly centralized plan. However, when it is analyzed, it does not actually function; it only symbolizes its function.
Peter Eisenman, "Notations of Affect" in Pathos, Affekt, Gefühl: Die Emotionen in den Künsten (Berlin, 2004), p. 506.



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