Inside/outside: the interior façade as the stage of the architectural and urban in-between

Patrizio Martinelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The archetypal figure of the enclosure represents the primordial action of inhabiting interior space: this construction creates an inside, as opposed to the outside, and at the same time defines a line (the enclosure) both imaginary and tectonic, that creates the threshold between interior and exterior, and the space of the intermediate and of the in-between. The façade, not only a line or a surface, has this role, containing the realm of the architectural scale and the urban scale, but also playing the role of a theatrical “fixed stage of the vicissitudes of man:” and this happens not only in the urban sphere (the street, the courtyard, the piazza) but also inside the building. Since Renaissance, in fact, theatrical action is staged bringing the outside world inside the interior. In theaters, the city is recreated inside the building as a montage of urban elements (e.g. the façade, the street, the square) that define the stage and the auditorium. Using this historical and theoretical framework the paper explores some contemporary projects where the montage and the reinvention of interior façades bring and transfigure the city inside the building as a stage for everyday life activities, practices, and rituals. These interiors are defined by thresholds and inbetween spaces both real and imaginary, ambiguous metaphors and allegories of openness, suspended between open and close, inside and outside, private and public.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-355
Number of pages26
JournalInteriors: Design, Architecture, Culture
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2023


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