Architecture Theory

Dissertations in progress

Working title, PhD student:

Growing Buildings: on the emergence of the Neo-Andean style of architecture,
Marco Paladines

Navigating Aperspective Space,
Wilfried Bohm

Kritische Theorie des Verzichts: Architektur zwischen Ethik und Ästhetik.,
Julian Franke 

Socio-Aesthetics of Porosity: Porous Spaces in Collective Housing,
Zorica Mead

Die Artikulation und Wirkung christlicher Kirchen innerhalb der zeitgenössischen chinesischen Stadt,
Dirk Mönch

Tourism as impulse of urban and social transformation: Local frames of a global phenomenon,
Christina Papadopoulous

MY-CO Material. Sinn. Architekturpsychologische Fallstudien zu mycelliumbasierten Baumaterialien,
Gudrun Rauwolf

Shifting Notions of Tectonics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century,
Ozan Soya

After Style - Style and Meaning in Architecture,
Viviana Torero



Completed dissertations

Designing in the Mode of Diagrammatic Modelling (Jan Bovelet, 2021)

Designing in the Mode of Diagrammatic Modelling : Basic Lines of an Epistemology of Building Data Modelling

The thesis consists of an epistemological investigation of building information modeling (BIM) as a design medium in architecture. The first part traces the development of BIM from the point of view of a trans-disciplinary, non-linear history. This historical approach is centered around the transfer of concepts, models, and techniques between architecture and informatics. Second, architectonical design is described as an epistemological practice in the framework of knowledge research, semiotic pragmatism, and model theory. Within this framework, a heuristics of six characteristics of BIM-based design is layed out. Following this inventory-taking, in the third part, BIM-based design is described as a process of diagrammatic modeling. First, the historical development from the analogue scale-model to the digital information-model is sketched out, and the BIM-model is analyzed as a design-model based on a pragmatistic model concept where the question about the conditions of the assessment of something as a model for something else is at centre stage. And second, the interface of the BIM-model is interpreted as a diagram in the framework of current diagrammatological research. On this base it is argued for the digram concept of semiotic pragmatism against the diagram concept of post-modernism that was directive in architecture already before the advent of BIM, and continues to be influential to this day.


Figures of the Fragmentary (Adria Daraban, 2021)

Figures of the Fragmentary. Architecture-Specific Concepts of the Fragmentary in Modernism

The attraction of the fragmentary as a topos of art, literature and philosophy seems to have been unbroken at least since its theoretical fixation in early Romanticism. Remnants, cracks, gaps or breaks give art a new expression; silenced voices, broken gestures, unfinished verses in fragmentary writing, dissonances, alienations and distortions change the sound and expression of all forms of representation. The fragment embodies the radical gesture of liberating art from the idea of the aesthetically beautiful, harmonious and whole.

The present work aims at an expanded conceptualisation of the fragmentary in architecture. As the fragment develops an event character, its sphere of action also changes. The focus increasingly shifts from a pictorially contemplative reflection on the relationship between fragment and whole to an experience of fragmentation. For architectural discourse, this turn means that the category of the fragmentary moves from a form of expression to the expression of an open and unstable (dynamic) architectural order, thereby developing its own architecture-specific characteristics.

To enable the investigation of this relation, the theory of the early Romantic fragment in literary and philosophical discourse is chosen as the starting point for this work. In order to analyse and make the contents of this theory effective with regard to architecture, the idea of the theoretical reduction of Romanticism is used as a model. This creates a bridge to enable the transfer between the discourse of Romanticism and other, "non-discursive areas of actualisation of the 'Romantic'". In this way, the reduction and synthesis of the main theses on the early Romantic concept of fragment according to Schlegel will succeed, in order to then transfer and examine these theses in the field of architecture with the help of the concept of figure. The connections can be outlined as follows: While the fragment transports characteristic phenomena of Romantic thought, the figure describes the structure of possible constellations of fragments. With the figure of the fragmentary, we thus speak of a (con-)figuration or constellation of fragments. The figural description of constellations of fragments is not only intended to be a systemic and normative representation, but also to symbolise the concept.

(Second supervision, 2021)



At the Origin of the Liberal Profession? (Francesca Favaro, 2021)

At the Origin of the Liberal Profession? Documentary Constellations in the Dispersed Archive of an Eighteenth-Century Architect

The purpose of this doctoral thesis is the reconstruction of the ordinary activities of an 18th-century architect, through the study of the documents he produced. Drawings, worksite instructions and technical reports assume a central position, playing a pivotal role for understanding the architectural practice in the eighteenth-century Savoyard State. More in detail, using some methods borrowed from Social Sciences, this research will focus on the professional career of the Italian architect Bernardo Antonio Vittone (1704-1770) trying to reassemble his extensive and dispersed archive.

(Second supervision, 2021)

Friedrich Nietzsche´s Grand Style (Juan Almarza Anwandter, 2020)

Friedrich Nietzsche´s Grand Style (Juan Almarza Anwandter, 2020)

Friedrich Nietzsche´s Grand Style: Towards the definition of an aesthetic category

After 120 years from his death, Nietzsche´s philosophy remains more topical than ever. His “hermeneutics of suspicion” has been regarded as the cornerstone of the incredulity towards metanarratives that constitutes the essence of our postmodern condition. But Nietzsche´s “philosophy of the hammer” was not just a deconstructive weapon; it was also a constructive tool used for the creation of new values. The subject of the present investigation is one of these values: Nietzsche´s concept of Grand Style. Formulated in a late stage of his philosophical production (1884-1889), it is a dialectical synthesis of his earlier concepts of the Apollonian and Dionysian and constitutes for him a normative criterion of excellence in the ambit of artistic creation, specifically in architecture. Despite its aphoristic and non-systematic way of formulation, the concept of Grand Style exhibits a multi-layered degree of complexity in which ontological, aesthetic, and stylistic reflections converge simultaneously. The investigation is focused on underlining and tracing the connections between these three layers of meaning, with the aim of recognizing in Grand Style the germ of a proper aesthetic category, which was not fully developed by the philosopher due to his mental collapse of 1889. In congruence with this hypothesis, the investigation has as an implicit programmatic goal making of Nietzsche´s aesthetic philosophy not just a passive object of scientific-documentary research, but an active tool for critical thinking, which can be applied as a model of interpretation in different fields and contexts of artistic production.


Micro-Utopias of Architecture (Sandra Meireis, 2020)

Micro-Utopias of Architecture : The Utopian Moment of Architectural Minimalist Techniques

After utopia gradually fell into disrepute with the onset of "postmodernism" from 1968 onwards, its return is evident in contemporary cultural discourses. The low and turning point of this development is marked by the collapse of the communist regimes in 1989/91. Sandra Meireis puts forward the central hypothesis for the architectural field that a return of utopia can be observed in the form of plural micro-utopias - micro-topoi of architecture. Furthermore, she shows that utopia as a historical-philosophical model is subject to social changes and thus reflects the late modern tendency towards cultural particularity.


Gilles Deleuze and the Anyone Corporation (Frederike Lausch, 2019)

Gilles Deleuze and the Anyone Corporation. Translation processes between the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and the US architectural discourse of the 1990s.

The US architectural discourse of the 1990s was decisively influenced by the theories of Gilles Deleuze. The appropriation of his philosophical concepts and those he developed together with Félix Guattari takes place primarily within the architectural-theoretical network of the "Anyone Corporation": Their discourses teem with smooth spaces, organless bodies, rhizomes, folds, abstract machines and diagrams. Frederike Lausch shows how the "Anyone Corporation" stages itself as the intellectual elite of the architectural discipline by referring to Deleuze and how, in the course of depoliticising his theories, the "post-criticality" movements emerge.

(Second supervision, 2019)


Hans Scharoun’s Design Thought for Schools of Second post War Period. (Giancarlo Poli, 2016)

"Hans Scharoun’s Design Thought for Schools of Second post War Period.“

This essay deals with three German schools that Hans Scharoun designed in the 1950s and 60s, in particular the project undertaken in 1951, in Darmstadt, in the State of Assia, the Municipal Secondary School, Geschwister Scholl, in Lünen; designed and built between 1955 and 1962 and the Marl Primary School, designed and built between 1960 and 1971, both in the North Rhine-Westphalia State. The theme is taken from researched archive materials and the redesign and construction of architectural models: the projects are studied, in order to understand Scharounian ‘Notion’, as a pattern of modern schools, expanding upon the theme of Unity-Classrooms, and also the relationship between buildings and their urban and suburban context, looking at the value of such a relationship in the compositional process. The essay is subdivided into three parts: an introductory part, where in addition to reviewing some examples of school buildings, built in Europe after the Second World War, it investigates the cultural context related to the formation in the German tradition; the middle part, which analyses the three schools, and studies their permanence and variation; and the final part, which deals with the possibility of the contemporary use of Hans Scharoun’s notion, and its human-scale approach to the theme of school buildings.

(Second supervision, 2016)


The Staircase in the Film (Ulrike Kuch, 2014)

The Staircase in the Film

(Second supervision, 2014)