What does a church smell like? Or a movie theater? How conscious are we of the smells that surround us? The idea that places have an olfactory identity is not recent. Even in ancient architecture the dynamics of scents and their permeation were incorporated into the design. The 20th century, however, witnessed an increasing need to dry out spaces and sterilize the air in the effort to eliminate any olfactory perception in the regulation of indoor air quality. The resinous odor of the timber in Peter Zumthor's Swiss Pavillon at the Hannover Expo; the thinness of the oxygen-poor Blur Bar by Diller+Scofidio; the shape-rendering Wind Tunnel by Renzo Piano for Ferrari at Maranello—these are among the most recent signs that architecture is reclaiming it's invisible olfactory dimension to add a further experience to space. This original book maps out places and scents from around the world, in architecture throughout the ages, accompanied by expert "noses": celebrated architects, avant-garde artists and scientists who research perception.
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Anna Barbara is an architect and professor at Polytechnic of Milan. Anthony Perliss is a graphic designer for a French perfume manufacturer.
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