Architecture Theory

Lectures Winter Semester 2020/21

Exploring Architecture. / Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter / Klaus Platzgummer

Exploring architecture.
Scientific Working (BA)

In the course Scientific Work, students acquire competences in the development of knowledge and its systematic verification. In addition to the artistic-technical competences, they acquire the ability to independently conceive scientific research work, to carry out research work and to present this knowledge in written and graphic form according to scientific standards. The course Scientific Working is taught in equal parts by the subject areas History of Building and Urban Planning, Sociology of Planning and Architecture, Historical Building Research and Theory of Architecture.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter, Klaus Platzgummer
Start: 04.11.2020, 08:00 am

Anmeldung: Qispos und ISIS

Seminars Winter Semester 2020/21

Architecture and Power. / Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter / Dr. des. Juan Almarza Anwandter

Architekturtheorie/Theorie I (Architectural Theory/ Theory I)
Architecture and Power. The Power of Architecture. (BA/MA/M-Arch-T)

In wide historical terms, architecture has always been one of the most efficient mediums for conveying the notion of power. Despite their diversity in terms of context, epoch, style, scale and function, objects like castles, palaces, monuments, and religious buildings appear to share as a common feature the attribute of power. Why?
Is power in architecture a cultural value, attached to these objects as a narrative construct?
Or is it an inherent quality, based on their concrete material and spatial properties?
Is a building powerful because of what it represents, in semiotic terms, or because how it ‘looks’ and ‘feels’, from a phenomenological perspective? What is the relationship between power and monumentality?
The seminar will explore the possible answers to these fundamental questions, based in the analysis of con- crete case studies, complemented with the study of the existing corpus of research on the subject devel- oped in the fields of architecture theory and history.

Introduction: Video

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter, Dr. des. Juan Almarza Anwandter
Time: Tuesdays, 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm, online
Start: 03.11.2020

Registration: Motivation letter to by 06.11.2020 and Qispos

Relations of Production (BA/MA) / Dr. phil. Alexander Stumm

Architecture Theory/Theory II
Relations of Production (BA/MA)

Where are the raw materials for the promising architectural and infrastructural large-scale projects in steel and concrete mined? How is architecture entangled with the global system of supply chains? Who profits from the distribution of land? What are the working conditions on major European construction sites? And in German architectural offices?
The seminar looks behind the facades of contemporary architectural production. It deals with environmental destruction and land grabbing by the cement industry in Southeast Asia, the methods of the sand mafia in Africa and the mining of lithium in South America for the batteries of our smart cities. It illuminates structural (land) political inequalities and the precarious employment conditions of those who make architecture, who are usually forgotten when looking at spectacular new buildings. The examination of theoretical texts makes the forms of architectural governmentality tangible.
The result of the seminar is a jointly conceived multimedia project that visualises the relations of production in architecture.

Introduction: Video

Lecturer: Dr. phil. Alexander Stumm
Time: Tuesdays, 14.00 - 16.00, online
Start: 03.11.2020

Zoom link:
Registration: Letter of motivation to by 06.11.2020 and Qispos

Traces: Monuments, Documents, Lineaments (BA/MA) / Klaus Platzgummer MSc ETH Arch, MA (AA)

Traces: Monuments, Documents, Lineaments (BA/MA) / Klaus Platzgummer MSc ETH Arch, MA (AA)

Architecture Theory/Criticism I
Traces: Monuments, Documents, Lineaments (BA/MA)

Making architecture is a practice that leaves traces: Built traces in cities and landscapes - monuments; drawn traces on paper and silicon chips - documents; imagined traces in the human and machine mind - lineaments. But what are traces? What are monuments? What are documents? And what are lineaments in the first place? And how exactly are the built, drawn and imagined traces connected? How do they structure the building, drawing and thinking of architecture? In any case, the seminar will not limit the conceptualisation of the trace to the apolitical understanding that poststructuralist philosophers (Jacques Derrida et al.) and their related architects (Peter Eisenman et al.) once had - to grasp the trace as a problem of metaphysics, detached from any real and social realities. On the contrary, the seminar discusses leaving traces as a fundamental mechanism of architecture-making, which also structures the acts of building, drawing and thinking between the different actors.
The aim of this seminar is to go on a 'search for traces' with texts from the history of philosophy and architecture. Starting with Leon Battista Alberti's reflections on lineamenta, via Siegfried Giedion's Nine Points on Monumentality, to Maurizio Ferrari's theory of documentalità, the seminar attempts to uncover a critical outline of the traces of architecture-making, and examines their historical and contemporary forms.

Introduction: Video

Lecturer: Klaus Platzgummer MSc ETH Arch, MA (AA)
Time: Mondays, 14.00 - 16.00, online
Start: 02.11.2020

Zoom link:
Registration: Letter of motivation to by 06.11.2020 and Qispos

The Architecture of the Anthropocene (MA) / Dr. phil. Lidia Gasperoni

Architecture Theory/Philosophy I
The Architecture of the Anthropocene (MA)

The Anthropocene, as the "Age of sHumans", refers to the period of time on Earth that is shaped by humans. Human production and consumption processes are profoundly altering the Earth's geological and atmospheric structures, to the point of threatening its radical transformation and inaccessibility through climate change. How can we rethink the function of the designer in this critical situation? What and how should we construct? And is constructing the only task of the designing architect?
In the seminar, after the critical introduction of the Anthropocene concept, we will devote ourselves to these questions through the joint discussion of selected literature contributions. This critical reflection will be accompanied by the production of our own experimental design documentation. The seminar will be held online. After the introduction of the seminar, an application is requested by 6 November in the form of a short application letter (1000 characters), possibly supported by images, on the following question: What can designers do beyond planning?

Introduction: Video

Lecturer: Dr. phil. Lidia Gasperoni
Time: Tuesdays, 10.00 - 12.00, online
Start: 03.11.2020

Zoom link:;
Registration: Letter of motivation to by 06.11.2020 and Qispos

Architectures of Labor / Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter / Klaus Platzgummer

M_ARCH_T_Typology Design Studio - PIV
Architectures of Labor

On the Search for the Theoretical Model.
The course poses the question of the theoretical model and discusses its status within an architectural project. But what is a theoretical model? How can it be conceptualized? And how can it be built? Certainly one can maintain that a theoretical model is a particular model that visualizes architectural concepts in a non-representative way. But what is the concept of a non-representative model? How can a physical model, whether in wood, cardboard, or concrete, refuse representing something? If theory is about the conceptual organisation of relations and hierarchies of the various parts of an architectural object, the question remains how these relations can be spatialized and made visible through models. Is the theoretical model in 3D comparable to diagrammatic drawings in 2D? While design processes usually proceed from first ideas represented in rough study models to more detailed and refined representative scale models, the course will explore the opposite challenge by following an experimental strategy from real and built buildings to the experimental elaboration of theoretical models.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter, Klaus Platzgummer
Time: Mondays, 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm, online
Start: 02.11.2020

Registration: with the studio Architectures of Labor

Type, Model, Style: Semiotic Analysis of Architecture / Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter / Dr. phil. Lidia Gasperoni

M_ARCH_T_Model and Type II
Type, Model, Style: Semiotic Analysis of Architecture

Beyond their functional, design, and material aspects, types constitute the basic elements of a language of architecture. Like the tropes and figures of speech in rhetoric, types are semiotic devices of the language of architecture. At the very least types have a narrative function as they tell us something about the time, purposes, customs, expediency and culture in general. With types, architecture leaves the realm of the elite codification of its sign system (style, history etc.). How does architecture speak through typology? How is meaning created through types? And in the first place, what does it mean if we talk of the language of architecture? How can architecture be meaningful at all? What is meant if we refer to architecture as language? The seminar is a basic introduction into architectural semiotics. Focusing on aspects of semiotics, rhetoric and language the seminar seeks to free typology from the hardened image of cataloged, formulaic knowledge and functionalist compartmentalization with the aim of casting a critical eye on the clichés and stereotypes that have been hardened in the debates surrounding postmodernism and the digital turn.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Jörg Gleiter, Dr. phil. Lidia Gasperoni
Time: Mondays, 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm, online
Start: 02.11.2020

Registration: Qispos after the first meeting