Chair of the History and Theory of Architecture
Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke
Main Areas of Research

The Chair of the History and Theory of Architecture focuses its research on the history of architecture and architectural theory in Europe c.1450–1850. Architecture theory here is understood in the broadest sense of the word, ranging from the poetics of architecture as laid down in treatises to any discourse, practice, actor, or artifact that sheds light on how architecture was understood and legitimized as a cultural practice in different historical and cultural contexts. The chronological and geographical demarcation of the research area is understood as a point of reference rather than as a strict limitation.

Within this general area, the chair is interested in the long history of particular architectural problems, and in particular their correlations with other disciplines and practices, such as the question of architecture’s mediality, and its position with regard to the visual arts; or the importance of other techniques, such as print. Another aspect of this is the question of architecture’s relationship to language, and of the transfer of concepts and ideas this relationship enables.

Long histories entail research into historiography, and the question of how the writing of architectural history and present notions of architecture mutually inform each other. Previous research has dealt with the presence of the baroque in twentieth-century architectural consciousness, with origin myths, and a current project looks at forms of, and debates on, the cornice from early modern theories to contemporary practices. Long history and historiography together pose the question of transmission: How do concepts, ideas, but also architectural forms and practices settle in time and space?

This also raises the question of the media and tools of architectural history itself. Digitization and databases allow researchers to draw on an ever more diverse and extensive body of sources (as we do in our Xenotheka project), and to work and publish on screens rather than on paper. When the quest for the elusive source has transformed into the filtering of too much information, and sturdy monographs are giving way to digital publications, how do we write the history of architecture?


Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke