|Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta)|
Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture
In its fourth decade, the gta Institute affirms its two-fold objective once again: to make architecture’s historical dimension evident with the highest level of competency, and to subject this dimension to renewed discussion in our contemporary world. History and theory, understood in this way, are synonymous – if in rather strongly simplified terms – with the thing itself, and the fundamental debate accruing to it. Both obey the demands of scholarship: the establishment and ascertainment of facts (or related bits of facts), and the critical control of the applied method and its suitability as the basis for more – theory.
The gta’s involvement in research and teaching always maintains its two-fold orientation. This enriches its work by means of a constant exploration that always reaches beyond the (common) horizon of the ‘intradepartmental’ questions thus posed. In our understanding of architecture, we provide a typical example of ‘transdisciplinary’ work. We work not just in the (interdisciplinary) sense of exchange and networking. Instead, stated more precisely, we work towards the transmission of a – by virtue of the given challenge – strengthened and constantly scrutinized competency to the ‘analogous’ productive branch that makes architecture. The gta has long enjoyed international recognition exactly because of this special position, first, of an institutional nature (an institute for the Humanities within a department of architecture), and secondly, as the consequence of its axiomatic-scholarly nature.
In this respect, it is not only the diversity of our research and teaching activity that is proof of our quality. Even more so, it is the thread that runs through all of our disparate foci, leading out of the labyrinth (as opposed to the ivory tower) into the real world and its exigencies. For this reason, too, we feel that we are the advocates of such general competencies (which are rather in crisis) as the capacity for thought and the competency of language, both of them irreplaceable as a basis for the task of dissemination described above.
It is evident that we see no shortage of large-scale tasks, just as we champion their significance and importance. We, too, – and who more than we – invent the world each day anew through our endeavors to be thoroughly conversant with history and theory. We register each impulse and change... and we re-think and re-examine the whole of it.
Prof. Dr. Werner Oechslin
The gta Archive
Although the last annual report of the gta Archive documented around 120 bequests and holdings, the archive experienced another year of marked growth in 1999. As an example, two large new acquisitions can be mentioned here: in early 1999, the wide-ranging architectural bequest of Alfred Roth – who died at the age of 96 and had bequeathed the collection to the Institute – was able to be transferred from the ‘Fellowship Home’ to the gta. In addition to plans, models, building documents and a comprehensive professional library, the bequest comprises above all important correspondence that bears eloquent witness to Roth’s close relationships with nearly all of the ‘pioneers’ of modern architecture. With the bequest of the great architect Rudolf Olgiati from the Grisons, the gta has also made a commitment: the monograph of his work, published by the gta, has been out of print for years. The gta Archive has also integrated the office archive from Ernst Gisel into its collection ‘virtually’ manner. After Ernst and Marianne Gisel gave it to the ETH Zurich at the end of last year, it became part of the archive although it remains in the home spaces of the ‘blue atelier’ on the Streulistrasse in Zurich-Hirslanden.
The large projects of the last two years were distinguished by interdisciplinary collaboration. These projects included the monographic presentation of the work of the engineer Heinz Hossdorf as well as an exhibition of the projects and teachings of the late (1999) landscape architect Dieter Kienast.
The gta began a new exhibition series with the presentation of the work of visiting faculty members Nicola Di Battista, Doris Wälchli (Ueli Brauen & Doris Wälchli), Meinrad Morger (Morger & Degelo) and Valerio Olgiati. The series seeks to offer visiting faculty at D-ARCH the opportunity to present their work.
The exhibitions of the Concrete Prize 97 and the Eternit Architecture Prize 99 represent the a continuing collaboration between the Polytechnic and industry.
Architectural and structural changes were planned for the summer of 2000. The architecture foyer (unchanged since 1977) is to be transformed into a contemporary exhibition space. In addition, the ‘ARchENA’ project will provide further areas for presentations and exhibition activities. The ‘ARchENA’ is located in the HIL building, which will be transformed, in collaboration with the gta, into the communications center of the D-ARCH and D-BAUG departments.
|Top of Page|