Ákos Moravánszky has been Titular Professor of the Theory of Architecture at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture of ETH Zurich since 2005.
He studied architecture at the Technical University in Budapest, Hungary, between 1969 and 1974 and then worked as an architectural designer in Budapest. From 1977 on he studied art history and historic preservation with a Herder scholarship at the Technical University in Vienna, Austria, where he received his doctorate in 1980. Between 1983 and 1986, he was Editor-in-Chief of the magazine of the Hungarian Union of Architects, “Magyar Épitömüvészet”. From 1986 until 1988 he was a Research Fellow at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, Germany, with an Alexander-von-Humboldt-Scholarship. Between 1989 and 1991 he was invited to the Getty Center for History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, California as a Research Associate. From 1991 until 1996 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts). In 1996 he was invited to teach the Theory of Architecture at the Institut gta of the ETH Zurich. During the academic term 2003/2004 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Applied Art in Budapest, Hungary as a Szent-Györgyi Fellow.
Ákos Moravánszky was President of the editorial board of the Swiss architectural journal Werk, Bauen+Wohnen and serves on the editorial board of the journal tec21.
The main areas of research and publication activities of Ákos Moravánszky are the history of East and Middle European architecture in the 19th-20th centuries, the history of architectural theory, and the iconology of building materials and constructions. He is working on a book project on material transformations in architecture.
Teaching on the Peripheries
Charles Polónyi and the Lessons of Marginality
Thursday, 31 May 2012 [14.30 – 15.30]
Hungarian architect and Károly (Charles) Polónyi (1928-2002) gave his autobiography the title An Architect-Planner on the Peripheries. Published in 1992 in English and eight years later in Hungarian, the book connects Polónyi’s work in Ghana, Nigeria, Algiers and Ethiopia with his education and architectural work in Hungary.
Polónyi was the only Team 10 member from Hungary. He studied during the immediate post-war years at the Technical University of Budapest and became involved in the post-war reconstruction of Hungary as well as the in resettlement of flood-damaged villages in the countryside. He attended the CIAM congress in Otterlo 1959 and worked in close connection with members of the Team 10. His work in Africa was done in the framework of a Hungarian organization for technical-scientific cooperation, TESCO.
From 1980 on, Polónyi was in charge of the international, English-language courses of the Technical University Budapest. He invited his friends from Team 10 to give guest lectures and teach design studios in Hungary, in the framework of an international summer school.
Working on the periphery of Socialism and Capitalism, in countries in transition, he often referred to the positive effects of colonization as an important way for the periphery to close up to the center. He refused to view colonization merely as a victimizing process, and noticed the dangers of destructive tendencies operating under the surface to control the postcolonial as well as the postsocialist periphery. Moving constantly between Africa and Hungary, he frequently reflected on the historical, aesthetical, political and ethical questions of the “peripheral” culture, as elements of a phenomenology of marginality.
Maarten Delbeke is associate professor at the department of Architecture and Urban Planning of Ghent University, where he studied and received his doctorate in 2001. In 2001-3 he was the Scott Opler fellow in Architectural History at Worcester College (Oxford), and in 2004 a visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. From 2003 until 2009 he was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Research Foundation Flanders (F.W.O.). He has been teaching at Ghent and the Art History Department of Leiden University since 2005.
Currently he leads the project The Quest for the Legitimacy of Architecture in Europe 1750-1850 at Leiden University, funded by a Vidi-grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (N.W.O.). His research concerns early modern art and artistic theory, architectural theory and contemporary architecture. With Evonne Levy and Steven Ostrow he has edited Bernini’s Biographies. Critical Essays (Penn State UP, 2006) and his monograph Sforza Pallavicino and Art Theory in Bernini’s Rome is forthcoming with Ashgate. He was the co-curator of the Belgian exhibition at the Venice Biennial for Architecture in 2000, as well as of Piranesi. De prentencollectie van de Universiteit Gent (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, 2008). His essays have appeared in many journals and collective volumes.
How to Make Buildings Speak. A Matter of Origins
Friday, 1 June 2012 [12.15 – 13.15]
Until quite recently, myths of origin abounded in the discourse on architecture. Since Vitruvius gave his account of the emergence of architecture, countless others have produced their own view of the very beginnings of the art. Today this fixture of architectural theory seems to have lost its currency. This is significant since, on the one hand, these myths have proven their resilience against the most ferocious attacks – as in the writings of Claude Perrault or Giambattista Piranesi – and, on the other, much architectural discourse still incorporates the kind of essentialist claims that myths of origin serve to bolster. Because of the tenaciousness and the particularly rich pedigree of this mythology, it seems legitimate to ask when it largely disappeared from view and why.
One way of approaching this problem is to ask exactly which question in architectural theory these myths of origin wanted to address. Different myths of origin contain diverging views on the way buildings give expression to their place in society. If the myths produced from the fifteenth century onwards developed the Vitruvian myth – often with considerable variations – the eighteenth century saw the emergence of radically different and competing accounts of the origins of architecture, reflecting the increasing cross-fertilization between architectural theory and other branches of knowledge, such as history and archaeology. In order to grasp this evolution, Charles Blanc’s Grammaire des arts du dessin (1867) will be read as an attempt to provide a synthesis of earlier reflections on origins while announcing the transformations in architectural theory that would take place in the early twentieth century; Blanc was, after all, an important inspiration for Le Corbusier.
Discussing key moments in the history of myths of origin will not provide a conclusive answer to the question of their much-diminished presence in architectural discourse. It will, however, allow us to reflect upon the historicity of this mythology and, as a consequence, of architectural theory.
Mary McLeod is professor of architecture at Columbia University, where she teaches architecture history and theory, and occasionally studio. She has also taught at Harvard University, University of Kentucky, University of Miami, and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. She received her B.A., M.Arch., and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Her research and publications have focused on the history of the modern movement and on contemporary architecture theory, examining issues concerning the connections between architecture and ideology. She is co-editor of Architecture, Criticism, Ideology and Architecture Reproduction, and has recently edited the book Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living (Abrams, 2003). Her articles have appeared in Assemblage, Oppositions, Art Journal, AA Files, JSAH, and Lotus as well as other journals and anthologies, such as The Sex of Architecture, Architecture in Fashion, Architecture of the Everyday, and Architecture and Feminism.
Concluding Remarks: Continuities and Departures
Saturday, 2 June 2012 [17.45 – 18.45]
Drawing from the subject matter and methodological orientation of the conference papers, this talk will present an overview of contemporary tendencies in architectural history.
Two of the major questions that it will address are: How has architectural history changed during the past thirty year—namely since the rise of theory in the 1980s? And how do geographical differences affect the nature of architecture history — that is, can we discern differences between the work of European scholars and those working in other continents?
More specifically, the paper will consider the issue of period focus (for example, younger scholars’ relative lack of interest in the modern movement); the scope of historical inquiry (micro versus macro history); the impact of poststructuralist currents and then its seeming diminution; the broader geographical scope of current research; and the turn away from heroic figures and formal composition as subjects of investigation. In conclusion, it will outline some subjects and themes that may be worthy of further study.