Professur für Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur
Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke
Über uns

  1. Seminarwoche ROCAILLE RAMBLES Oktober 2020
  2. Architekturgeschichtliche Perspektiven aus der Krise - siehe unten (Foto: Hans-Peter Bärtschi)
  3. Architekturgeschichtliche Perspektiven aus der Krise - siehe unten
  4. Architekturgeschichtliche Perspektiven aus der Krise - siehe unten
  5. Was lesen, schauen und tun in wundersamen Zeiten? Unsere Empfehlungen finden Sie unten
  6. Was lesen, schauen und tun in wundersamen Zeiten? Unsere Empfehlungen finden Sie unten
  7. Unser Kollege Berthold Hub hat seine Habilitation über Filarete publiziert – Auguri!
  8. Seminarwoche "Casting the Cornice", Tessin, Oktober 2019
  9. Seminarwoche "Casting the Cornice", Tessin, Oktober 2019
  10. Seminarwoche "Casting the Cornice", Tessin, Oktober 2019
  11. Gesims-Gespräch: Emanuel Christ & Christoph Gantenbein im Gespräch mit Maarten Delbeke, November 2019
  12. Ausstellung "Die Welt, das Werk & das Ich: Architekturstudentinnenbücher", Baubibliothek, November & Dezember 2019
  13. Buchvernissage "Blickwendungen" im Schweizerischen Institut für Kunstwissenschaft (SIK-ISEA), Oktober 2019
  14. "Female but old": die Wirkung von Goethes Gartenhaus aus studentischer Sicht, Seminar "Caractère", September 2019
  15. Gesims-Gespräch: Petra Kahlfeldt im Gespräch mit Erik Wegerhoff, Mai 2019
  16. Seminarwoche «Jerusalem: Walls»: auf dem Tempelberg, März 2019
  17. Seminarwoche «Jerusalem: Walls»: Palästinensermauer in Ost-Jerusalem, März 2019
  18. Seminarwoche «Jerusalem: Walls»: am Fuss der Mauer des Tempelbergs, März 2019
  19. Vorbereitung einer Ausstellung zum Gesims, Drawing Matter, England, April 2019
  20. Vorbereitung einer Ausstellung zum Gesims, Drawing Matter, England, April 2019
  21. Kurs «Grundlagen der Architekturgeschichte»: Besuch in der Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, Einsiedeln, April 2019
  22. Seminarwoche «Rome: Walls»: in EUR, Oktober 2018
  23. Seminarwoche «Rome: Walls»: Apsiden von Sankt Peter, Oktober 2018
  24. Seminarwoche «Rome: Walls»: auf dem Dach des Palazzo dei Congressi, EUR, Oktober 2018
  25. Workshop «Re:public: Books and Buildings» in Venedig, September 2018
  26. Wanderung zum Gotthardpass als Abschluss der Vorlesung «Die Architektur der Strasse», Mai 2018
  27. Seminarwoche «Borderline Baroque»: Studienkirche, Dillingen, März 2018
  28. Seminarwoche «Borderline Baroque»: Kapelle, Schloss Augustusburg, März 2018
  29. Seminarwoche «Borderline Baroque»: Autobahn bei Würzburg, März 2018
  30. Seminarwoche «Borderline Baroque»: Google Map, März 2018

Unsere Seminarwoche Oktober 2020 ist online:
Rocaille Rambles: The Exuberant Side of Switzerland

Architekturgeschichtliche Perspektiven aus der Krise

Die ETH, die Schweizer Regierung und diejenigen anderer Länder lockern die strengen Begrenzungen. Damit eröffnen sich (Hoffnungen auf) neue Räume und Perspektiven. Auch wenn Abstände von zwei Metern uns noch eine Weile begleiten werden, nehmen wir das zum Anlass für optimistische Aussichten – und zwar solche aus der Architekturgeschichte, ausgewählt von den Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern der Professur Delbeke. Dies ist Teil zwei unserer viralen Website. Der erste Teil, unsere persönlichen Empfehlungen, was man zu Hause lesen, schauen und tun kann, finden sich nach wie vor unten, nur etwas weiter.

Sehen Sie sich vor – und geniessen Sie gute Aussichten!

Nikos misses
The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum
Preserving and exhibiting architecture is a complicated affair due to its scale and weight. Simply putting an old building in(side) a museum is, in most cases, impossible. With smaller, vernacular constructions things can be different, though; especially in parts of the world where traditional construction is mostly based on wood and is therefore easily removable. This idea gave birth to the concept of the "Open-Air Museum" (or "Freilichtmuseum", as it is known in German), first in Scandinavia at the end of the 19th century and then throughout Europe in the 20th. An open-air museum is essentially this: Representative vernacular constructions from different parts of a country are moved from their original locations and reconstructed within a fenced plot of land, in order to be better preserved, and in order to give the visitor a comprehensive image of a country's different kinds and species of architecture (a 'Noah's Park', if you will). Switzerland's Ballenberg Open-Air Museum in canton Bern is a typical example of this: An entirely modern project for the concentration and preservation of all things pre-modern and traditional. Being (as their name suggests) open-air, such places might not be subject to virus-related regulations as strict as in traditional indoor museums. Concentrating vernacular buildings from all over Switzerland, Ballenberg offers an opportunity to study the architectural traditions of many different parts of the country while travelling (relatively) little and remaining in the open air. Indeed, according to its official webpage, the museum will open on 19 May 2020.
(12 May 2020)

Gregorio admires
The Rooftop 'Autodromo' of the Lingotto
Inspired by Taylorist principles of serial production, the factory building Lingotto was completed in 1928 in Turin for the Italian car producer Fiat. The design of the building literally followed the steps of car manufacturing, with cars progressively moved to the upper floors as they were assembled. The rooftop was designed as a beautiful test track, becoming the symbol for the whole building. Today, this ‘autodromo’ is accessible via the magnificient helicoidal ramps running on the sides of the building, also part of the original design. Admired by architects for its modern aesthetics and functionalist essence (Le Corbusier featured it at the end of Vers une Architecture, 1923), the rooftop of the Lingotto was probably best portrayed in the 1969 movie Italian Job, starring the incomparable Michael Caine (Great Britain 1969, dir. Peter Collinson, 99 min). Here is the famous scene. The photograph above is by Hans-Peter Bärtschi, 1991, published on ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv.
(7 May 2020)

Cara is amazed by
Powers of Ten (USA 1977, dir. Charles and Ray Eames, 9 min)
«This emptiness is normal. The richness of our own neighborhood is the exception.» What constitutes our neighborhood this week? And how different will it be in September? How long before it looks like it did last year? To consider «the richness of our own neighborhood», I recommend the small and spectacular Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames. The short film was a classic of late twentieth-century Anglophone science education and introduced a generation of school kids to how scale links the massive and the miniscule. Watch it for nine minutes of childlike wonder – and look out for the Chicago city plan that reinforces the scale squares. A film like this made by a design firm today would likely not rely so unreflectively on the Cartesian grid – but for now, when everything seems uncertain, enjoy the recognition of what does connect us all. And in a related neighborhood of small connections: the male picnicker is played by the Swiss graphic designer Paul Brühwiler.
(7 May 2020)



Die virale Website, erster Teil (März & April 2020):
Was lesen, schauen und tun in wundersamen Zeiten?
Persönliche Empfehlungen der Équipe Delbeke

Es ist wunderlich, in seine Wohnung eingesperrt zu sein. Damit kommt man nicht ohne weiteres zurecht, aber eine solche Situation kann auch neue Ideen inspirieren. Derweil wir von unseren Wohnungen und unserem Computer aus unterrichten, wollen wir Euch – unseren Studentinnen und Studenten, aber auch unseren Lesern generell – einige sehr persönliche Empfehlungen geben: was man nun von Zuhause aus lesen, anschauen und tun kann. Alle setzten sich mit Isolation, Quarantäne, Plagen, Pest und dergleichen auseinander. Aber – und das ist uns wichtig – es handelt sich nicht um weitere Schreckensmeldungen. Vielmehr soll die Liste unten eine Anregung sein, sich der momentanen Situation intellektuell und kreativ zu stellen – oder sich zu amüsieren, damit wir das nicht vergessen. Manches davon hat mit Architektur zu tun, einiges mit Geschichte, sehr wenig mit Theorie. Vor allem hoffen wir, dass die Aufzählung unten Inspiration für eine alternative Praxis des Überlebens in wundersamen Zeiten bietet. Viel Vergnügen.

Die Liste wird wachsen und regelmässig aktualisiert werden. Die Einträge sind auf Englisch verfasst, da das die übliche Sprache an der Professur ist.

Manuel recommends to break out
Into the Great Wide Open
Since the spring vacation was more limited this year than what we are used to, I decided to take this year's road trip at home. Take a good friend with you, turn on the radio, and drive somewhere. Can you guess where I ended up? Alternatively, I recommend a fantastic bike tour from Zurich to Kaiserstuhl, directly on the German border. It took me five hours there and back, but it should be possible to do it faster. Great landscapes and idyllic villages on the way. Once there, however, the miraculous and definitely impressive, yet hopefully unique, experience of finding a closed border crossing.
(22 April 2020)

Sophie recommends a podcast, and a book:
«Alles gesagt?» with Carolin Emcke, and her book Gegen den Hass (Fischer Taschenbuch, 2019, English version: Against Hate, Polity 2019)
A week ago I found this podcast series on Zeit Online. The concept is to talk as long as the guest wants to talk, until «everything is said». Especially this talk with Carolin Emcke, journalist and author, remains on my mind. She speaks about her book Gegen den Hass (Against Hate), which I ordered right after hearing about it. To me it is super important to think about how to live and act in this world after (and also now in) this state of emergency we are currently in. The essay deals with important topics of our time: Racism, fanaticism, hostility towards democracy. Only with the courage to contradict hate and joyful bearing of plurality, democracy can be carried out. This essay is for anybody in need of persuasive arguments to defeat a humanist attitude and an open society. Listen to the podcast here, and buy the book from your favourite bookseller (who will be happy to receive an order now!).
(18 April 2020)

Adam recommends morale-raising tunes:
The Berlin Philharmonic online
During the Second World War the celebrated pianist Myra Hess organised classical music concerts at the National Gallery in order to raise morale. Londoners would cram into the gallery and sit on the floor to hear her play piano. Now you can have your morale raised in the comfort of your own lockdown, because the Berlin Philharmonic has opened their digital concert hall for free. Hundreds of hours of recordings, at a quality better — oh, so much better — than youtube. Here.
(15 April 2020)

Chiara recommends a film:
Caro Diario (Italy 1993, dir. Nanni Moretti, 100 min)
If you keep a diary of these days or not – this is a beautiful Italian comedy structured in three parts, in which all the main themes of our lives are touched, fears and hopes, but also the desire to escape. Get a gusto of the film here, and find it on your favourite streaming service.
(14 April 2020)

Gabriel recommends an opera:
The virtual stage of Opernhaus Zürich
A few days ago I found out that the Opera House of Zurich will set up a streaming service. When I first heard of this, I was quite surprised, as I could hardly imagine myself to see the Nutcracker on my desktop's screen. How will it be? An Online Opera? Do I have to dress up for this? Will there be a break? And what about the notion of "seeing and being seen"? Of course I won't tell you the answers to these questions - as I think you should try out the experience of the Online Opera yourself. In this sense: The stage is set! See (and be seen?) here.
(14 April 2020)

Emma recommends a book:
Olivia Laing: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (2016)
This book was written after a long period of loneliness in the author’s life, while living in New York City. During her solitude Laing began to collect material on the city’s outsider artists and other lonely creative figures, to understand how they turned their loneliness into art. With this book Laing has done the same. She talks about the nature of loneliness and its relationship to creative work, by interweaving personal reflections on her own situation in New York with the lonely histories of the city’s artists like Andy Warhol and David Wojnarowicz. A warm companion in these lonely times of lockdown, and perhaps an inspiration to turn the solitude into a fruitful creative period. Read her essay Me, Myself and I (2012) here, and her article How art helped me see the beauty in loneliness published in The Guardian (2016) here.
(9 April 2020)

Nikos recommends an essay:
Susan Sontag: Disease as Political Metaphor (1978)
This essay by Susan Sontag, originally published in 1978, and recently re-published in full on the website of The New York Review of Books, is a rather standard piece of cultural history and discourse analysis of its time. The text tries to decipher how in different historical instances, different diseases have been ascribed moral, social and political characteristics, and instrumentalized by different political entities or ideologies. Vice versa, it looks at how known diseases have served as metaphors for social and political problems and threats. Due to its original publication date, its main objects are tuberculosis and cancer. But the scope and methodology of the text could help in de-coding how the corona virus epidemic is conceptualized and talked about today by different voices. Read the essay here.
(9 April 2020)

Sigrid recommends bodies in buildings:
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker: Rosas danst Rosas (1983)
De Keersmaeker’s choreography in a former technical school building designed by Henry van de Velde (1936) in Leuven tells us about the importance of dance, rhythm and music and the interactions between architectural interior space and bodily movement. Find more information and some images here, and watch the dance performance in a film directed by Thierry de Mey here. Or try it yourself!
(9 & 22 April 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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)