|Theory of Architecture, Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky|
In the light of the many publications and conferences focussing on topics such as globalization, virtuality, or memory in architecture, the theory of architecture must seem like a flourishing discipline. However, despite the hectic activity of publishing houses and academic institutions, the theory of architecture does not present itself as a consistent and identifiable field of knowledge. The difficulty stems not least from the discipline’s considerable ambition to represent the cultural context in which designers work. In order to fulfill this ambition, the theory of architecture borrows the topics, the terminology, and the methods of the history of architecture, art and technology, of philosophy, and of sociology. Architecture theory asks, what is design, how can different products of our culture be studied with a uniform methodology, and how can the aesthetic quality of these products be evaluated?
In order to establish a theoretical discourse not too ideologically loaded, the lecture series covers four different approaches: First, various attempts to define architecture are compared, and their commonalties discussed. The putative opposition between nature and technology is explored, for example, or the myth of ‘timeless building’ and the idea of the building as autonomous work of art are juxtaposed. Consideration is given to the difficulties of considering design as a process of reflection and projection, and whether this approach already represents a utopian dimension of architecture. The second approach is focused on models of theoretical discourse in the works of specific architects. Here, the focus is on the dialectics between built work and theory, or rather between, built work and interpretation. In the third approach, the ‘building blocks’ of the theory of architecture those concepts which are thought to determine form in the design process are tested for their appropriateness and applicability. Topics of investigation are, for example, the ‘truth of materials’ and the historical construction of the relevance of materials, or the concepts of ‘place’, ‘function’, ‘tradition’, and ‘style’. Finally, these ‘building blocks’ are placed in the larger context. The elements tested earlier in the course are assembled in meaningful ways. More comprehensive systems and disciplines, such as semiotics or phenomenology, are applied. The discussion finally leads to an investigation of ethical and social questions.
The course entitled ‘Gestaltungstheorie’ examines topics such as ‘Travel’ (Winter semester, 19981999), ‘Fashion’ (Summer semester, 1999), or ‘Time’ (Winter semester, 19992000) with the help of classical texts and case studies from architecture, urban design, and art. The course’s main purpose is to establish basic knowledge while at the same time questioning the capacity of certain terms. It also offers the opportunity to practice a critical exchange with paradigms, methods, and models of thought, and to analyze buildings based on criteria derived from the theory of architecture. This course does not propose the ‘right theory’. Instead, personal points of view are to be formulated, specified, and defended.
Architectural Theory Models and Media
Internationales Kolloquium vom 13./14. Januar 1999
Inadequacies in architectural practice’s ability to reflect upon its own foundations and relationships have led to the establishment of courses in the theory of architecture at many larger schools of architecture. This tendency has institutionalized architectural theory as an academic discipline meant to offer alternatives to and integrational concepts for the trend towards specialization and singularization of knowledge. Among the topics discussed were the relationship between theory and history as well as issues of methodology the most notable ones.
Theoretical Discourse: Anthology of Twentieth Century Texts on the Theory of Architecture
Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky
This anthology is an attempt to explore the possibilities of theoretical discourse. Key texts on architecture not only texts by architects, however are considered in five topical groups. Introductory essays contextualize the texts and explain their connections to the practice of architectural design.
Brick: the Construction of Identity of a Building Material
Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky
Like all other building materials, brick is not only fabricated technically and selected for its quantifiable qualities, but is also produced culturally. The aim of this research is to expose the material‘s archaeological layers of the meaning through historical analysis. A publication is planned.
The Remote Village: Modern Culture and the Ethnic Artifact
Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky
This book will be a collection of texts by international experts on the interest of modern artists in folklore and rural culture. The primary area of investigation is the role of artists and architects in ethnographic research at the turn of the century. The differences between artists and ethnographers in their understanding of their disciplines and in the methodologies applied are analyzed. Particular consideration will focus on the construction of the modern state’s national identity.
Topics of Central European History of Architecture
Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky
Although Viennese modernism has been thoroughly analyzed by the history of architecture, the comparable architectural production of neighboring eastern countries has been hardly researched. This research will focus on the interaction between isolated centers and larger movements, and the differences between their aesthetic positions and social programs. In the courses organized by the chair, students’ thesis papers also contribute to this research.
Albrecht Stürler and Bernese Architecture in the Second Quarter of the Eighteenth Century
Christoph Schläppi Dissertation Universität Bern
Departing from a critical examination of the catalogue of the works of Albrecht Stürler, this research studies panoptically the architectural production, the economic and artistic mechanisms, and the central protagonists of his time.
The Stratification Process in the Work of Carlo Scarpa
Anne-Catrin Schultz Dissertation Universität Stuttgart
The background of Carlo Scarpa’s design methods and compositional strategies is explained by reference to the principle of stratification as a specific method of spatial formation.
‘Monumentality’ and its Shadows:
Irene Fatsea Dissertation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Quest for Modern Greek Architectural Discourse in Nineteenth-Century Athens (1834-1862)This study focuses on the discussion of the theory of architecture in Athens during the time of Ottoman rule. At the center of the investigation are texts by Konstantinos Mavroyannis and Anastasios and Stephanos Koumanoudis which describe urban and rural life as well as their spatial settings. The reception of Hegel and Winckelmann serve as points of departure for the argument.
Between Stations and Habitations: The French Science of Life at the Shore, 1830-1900
Edward A. Eigen Dissertation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This dissertation investigates the institutions of French oceanic research of the nineteenth century, emphasizing the aspects of intellectual preoccupation with natural landscapes, regions, and their resources, and of the spatial design of the research institutes.
Mediterraneità and Modernità
Brian McLaren Dissertation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The interest in the anonymous architecture of the Mediterranean has decisively inspired many architects of early modernity. Drawing on examples taken from Italian colonial architecture in Libya, but also from tourism, advertisements, and exhibitions, the specific meaning of ‘Mediterraneità’, as opposed to ‘Italianità’, is investigated. At the same time, the instrumentalization of the same concept in colonial discourse is demonstrated
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