Hide and seek. A tarot deck of cards among Italo Calvino and Marco Frascari
Throughout our work in the architecture field, we train to always be searching, and in the endeavor, we play what could be a hide-and-seek game. We set the place, the rules, and the players. We identify our readings and authors. We are the ones who seek, while others hide. We set the time for re-search, and we start imagining all the possibilities ahead. We prepare our senses to track clues, and we never stop training. It is in this way that Italian architect and professor Marco Frascari invited us to play.
Storytelling within architecture as research has been about questioning the literature and narrative theory and coming back with new questions to the architectural field. A 1969 book written by Italo Calvino called Il castello dei destini incrociati offers insights about the work of Marco Frascari, who devoted most of his work to the relationship between storytelling and architecture.
This paper tells the story of how a teaching exercise by Frascari using a deck of tarot cards, and Calvino’s book in which a deck of tarot cards is used to narrate twelve tales, are linked. This book, which was as Calvino wrote, made first of pictures –– the tarot playing cards –– and secondly of written words,1 sets the narrative to talk about Frascari’s work. Both would have seen the visual as an opportunity to appeal to their reader’s imagination. This dialogue between the two figures provides the chance to gain insights into what storytelling as a crafty process within architecture could be.2
Keywords: storytelling, architecture, imagination, Italo Calvino, Marco Frascari
1 Italo Calvino, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977), 123. 2 Marco Frascari, “An Architectural good Life can be built, explained and taught only through storytelling,” in Reading Architecture and Culture: Researching Buildings, edited by Adam Sharr, (London: Routledge, 2013), 224-34, 226.
TANIA CANO is Architecture Program Director and full-time professor at Escuela de Arquitectura, Arte y Diseño, Campus Guadalajara at Tec de Monterrey. She completed a Master of Architecture at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in 2021 where her research centered on the idea of storytelling within architecture. She practiced at local architecture studios and continued working in the academic field at the Architecture School of Tec de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico. In the summer of 2017, she was selected for an internship at Domaine de Boisbuchet in France, and during the winter of 2019-2020, she conducted a research internship at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.