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

The Chair in the History and Theory of Architecture focuses its research on the history of architecture theory in Europe ca. 1450–1850. Architecture theory here is understood in the broadest sense of the word, ranging from poetics of architecture as laid down in treatises to any discourse, practice, actor or artifact that sheds light on how architecture is understood and legitimized as a cultural practice that is meaningful and relevant to society at a given time or place. In this, the chronological and geographical demarcation of the research area serve as a point of reference rather than as a strict limitation of the research domain.

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; the importance of other techniques, such as print; or the meaning of materialities not traditionally associated with pre-1850 architecture, such as metal. 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, but this question can be expanded to other historical moments, as well as to the historiography of architecture theory itself.

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? Here, too, the baroque is a relevant point in case, as a repertory of forms that at once references precise points of origin while persisting across a wide territory and timeframe.

They also raise the question of the medium and tools of architectural history itself. Digitization and databases allow researchers to draw on an ever more diverse and extensive body of sources, 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 the publication of sturdy monographs is giving way to digital publications, how do we write the history of architecture?


Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke