Pursuing the intersections of Venetian culture from the beginning of the sixteenth century through the first decades of the seventeenth, Manfredo Tafuri develops a story crowded with characters and full of surprises. He engages the doges Andrea Gritti and Leonardo Dona; architects and artists Sansovino, Serlio, Palladio, and Scamozzi; and scientists Francesco Barozzi and Galileo. He records the battle that was fought for architecture as metaphor for absolute truth and good government, and contrasts these with the myths that inspired them.
Written from a neo-Marxist point of view by a prominent Italian architectural historian, Architecture and Utopia leads the reader beyond architectural form into a broader understanding of the relation of architecture to society and the architect to the workforce and the marketplace. It discusses the Garden Cities movement and the suburban developments it generated, the German-Russian architectural experiments of the 1920s, the place of the avant-garde in the plastic arts, and the uses and pitfalls of seismological approaches to architecture, and assesses the prospects of socialist alternatives.