Chair of the History and Theory of Architecture
Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke
About Us

  1. Recommendations on what to read, watch, and do now: see below
  2. Recommendations on what to read, watch, and do now: see below
  3. Our colleague Berthold Hub has published his Habilitation on Filarete – Auguri!
  4. Seminar week "Casting the Cornice", Ticino, October 2019
  5. Seminar week "Casting the Cornice", Ticino, October 2019
  6. Seminar week "Casting the Cornice", Ticino, October 2019
  7. Cornice Conversation with Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, November 2019
  8. Exhibition "Die Welt, das Werk & das Ich: Architekturstudentinnenbücher", Baubibliothek (Architecture Library), November & December 2019
  9. Book launch "Shifts in Perspective: Architects' Travels to Italy" at the Swiss Institute for Art History (SIK-ISEA), October 2019
  10. "Female but old": impressions and emotions caused by Goethe's Gartenhaus among students, seminar "Caractère", September 2019
  11. Cornice Conversation with Petra Kahlfeldt, May 2019
  12. Seminar week “Jerusalem: Walls”: on the Temple Mount, March 2019
  13. Seminar week “Jerusalem: Walls”: in East Jerusalem, March 2019
  14. Seminar week “Jerusalem: Walls”: at the foot of the Western Wall, March 2019
  15. Preparing an exhibition on the cornice, Drawing Matter, Somerset, England, April 2019
  16. Preparing an exhibition on the cornice, Drawing Matter, Somerset, England, April 2019
  17. Visit to the Werner Oechslin Library, Einsiedeln, April and May 2019
  18. Seminar week “Rome: Walls”: EUR, October 2018
  19. Seminar week “Rome: Walls”: St Peter’s apses, October 2018
  20. Seminar week “Rome: Walls”: Palazzo dei Congressi, EUR, October 2018
  21. Workshop “Re:public: Books and Buildings” in Venice, September 2018
  22. A hike on 18th- and 19th-century paths and roads up the Gotthard Pass, May 2018
  23. Seminar week “Borderline Baroque”: Studienkirche, Dillingen, March 2018
  24. Seminar week “Borderline Baroque”: Chapel, Augustusburg Palace, March 2018
  25. Seminar week “Borderline Baroque”: Autobahn under snow near Würzburg, March 2018
  26. A map of the field trip “Borderline Baroque”, March 2018

What on earth (and at home) to read, watch, and do in these bizarre times:
Personal recommendations by the team of Chair Delbeke

Being confined to one’s home is a strange situation. It is hard to cope with, but it may also inspire new ideas and things to do. While we are teaching from our home and computers, we also provide you – our students, our readers in general – with a few very personal recommendations on what to read, watch, and do while you stay at home. All of it has to do with isolation, quarantine, plagues, and the like. Yet, importantly, this is not about more horror news. It is an invitation to engage with the current situation in intellectual and creative ways – or simply to laugh so we don’t forget that either. Some of the stuff has to do with architecture, much of it with history, very little of it with theory – mostly, our hope is that it inspires an alternative practice of survival in bizarre times. Enjoy.

The list below will grow, and will regularly be updated.

Jasper recommends a book:
S.n., Voyage littéraire de deux religieux Bénédictins de la congregation de St Maur, I, Paris: Florentin Delaulne, 1717
The authors of this book lived through the inverse of the situation we currently find ourselves in. Martène and Durand, monks voluntarily confined to the walls of their monastery, were ordered to leave their cells and to travel France. They had to go study churches all over the country, to aid the historiographic efforts of their fellow monks. If we find ourselves wanderers forced into monkhood, they were monks, forced to wander. The short preface to their travels may allow for a different outlook on our days of confinement. Find the full text here.
(23 March 2020)

Gregorio recommends a film:
Mediterraneo (Italy 1991, dir. Gabriele Salvatores, 96 min)
My recommendation is the 1991 movie Mediterraneo. The movie follows a group of Italian soldiers during World War II (the first slide above) who, after landing on a small Greek island „of great strategic importance“ in the middle of the Aegean Sea, are stranded there for the rest of the war. The movie is essentially a tribute to a sort of Mediterranean joie de vivre, a way to escape the terrors of war by searching for common cultural roots (as in the recurrent motto „Italiani e Greci, una faccia una razza“) with the help of food, sun and sex. There is also an interesting stream of political critique, especially towards a supposedly new and illuminated (but ultimately disappointing) post-war Italy. Watch the movie here.
(23 March 2020)

Nikos recommends an article:
Nandini Pandey: Classical Plagues School Trump on Coronavirus: An End-of-the-World Press Conference in Hades, in: Eidolon (4 March 2020)
The article recently published on Eidolon (an interesting on-line classical scholarship platform) is a montage of actual quotes by Donald Trump in recent public statements about the corona virus epidemic with imagined responses by famous plagues from classical antiquity, all staged as characters in an ancient tragedy. Besides its literary merit, the text abounds in footnotes in the form of hyperlinks leading to external sources. Intriguing for whoever is interested in becoming familiar with the rich classical references of the text, or keeping up with how the US and other countries are dealing with the epidemic. Read the article here.
(23 March 2020)

Maarten recommends a book and a film:
William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
Blade Runner (USA 1982/director’s cut 1992/final cut 2007, dir. Ridley Scott, 117 min)

As the present situation inevitably raises sometimes grim questions about the future, and throws up questions about society, governance, surveillance, data collection and the enviroment, it is perhaps appropriate to look back at some recent science fiction classics dealing with exactly these themes. William Gibson’s Neuromancer (first published in 1984; available here) is the foundational classic of the cyberpunk genre. It has been ripped off endlessly in other books and movies such as The Matrix (1999). Gibson’s debut was immediately picked up by architects and architecture critics for its compelling analogies not just between the world of information and the postmodern city, but also between the representation of data and architecture. As such, the novel is at once rooted in century-old metaphors relating architecture to memory, and remarkably forward-looking in its understanding of how data and real life might become intertwined. Most importantly, it is a fast and compelling read, generously wielding the conventions of hard-boiled noir. Its inevitable cinematic companion piece is Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (available on Netflix), the inspiration and reference for near endless ruminations on the dystopian urban condition of the then near future. Regardless of that, the movie integrates some architectural landmarks (Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House amongst them) into an at once uncessantly menacing and surprisingly intimate vision of the modern city.
(23 March 2020)

Erik recommends a recipe
Quarante-Quatre (undat.)
This is a recipe that, as many old formulas, needs time. It is thus perfect for a period that requires patience. Best of all, it promises to reward you generously once it’s done. The recipe is a liqueur that was made by the French part of my family, and it is called Quarante-Quatre – forty-four. Aptly so.
Buy an orange (organic) and stud it with 44 coffee beans. Put it in a large sealable jar and pour 700ml of alcohol over it (such as vodka). Throw 44 sugar cubes into that cocktail. Seal the jar and let it sit in a dark and cool place for 44 days, shaking it whenever you think of it. After that time, strain the liquid into your favourite carafe. It makes for a perfect digestif. With which you might in fact be able to celebrate the end of the current quarantine, if all goes well. Not by chance, the words quarantine and quarante are alike, as a quarantine originally implied being confined for forty days.
(23 March 2020)

Sigrid recommends a book …
Xavier de Maistre: Voyage autour de ma chambre [Journey around my room], Turin 1794
The obvious choice for a text that gives a positive spin to confinement – an account of a 27 year-old French aristocrat and army officer who is locked in his bedroom in Turin for six weeks while under arrest for having participated in a duel. He undertakes a journey around his bedroom, exploring it as if discovering a new country or city. This „room-travel“ suggests that „the pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to“, as Alain de Botton puts it in the foreword of the English edition (2017). Find the French original here, and the English translation there.
(24 March 2020)

… and photographs:
Gail Albert Halaban: Out of my window (2009-)
Photographer Gail Albert Halaban's Out of my window series, started 2009, can be seen as a contemporary take on confinement, expressed by the role of the window in the city. The window functions here as a way of framing, and Halaban pictures the effects of observing from a window while also being observed from an opposite window. Her photographs of the „vis-à-vis“ from apartments in the cities of Paris, New York or Istanbul are given a new dimension by today’s events. Her aim is to bring the local community closer together, and to stimulate social engagement and empathy: „Even alone we never need be lonely.“ Find a video on the project in general here, and a video specifically on the project in Paris there.
(24 March 2020)

Emma recommends a film:
The Seventh Seal (Sweden 1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman, 96 min)
Bergman’s The Seventh Seal follows a knight recently returned to plague-ridden Europe from the crusades after years away. As he travels through the country on a quest to return to his castle and his long estranged wife, he meets an assortment of characters that force him to question the meaning of life. Throughout it all, he carries on a chess game with Death (the second slide above), the spectre that hangs over him and all his companions. The film talks about the inevitability of death, but also offers a blueprint of how we might make the most of life, even under the spectre of death’s inevitable shadow. Features some beautiful cinematography, and the superior acting capabilities of the great Max von Sydow, himself recently deceased. Watch the film here.
(24 March 2020)

Linda recommends a whole library:
The World Digital Library
to browse, from your home, through astonishing material while hard-copy libraries are closed. Have a look at such items as the famed Kitāb suwar al-kawākib (Book of the constellations of the fixed stars) by ʻAbd al-Rahman ibn ʻUmar al-Sufi (903–986).
(27 March 2020)