77859 - History of Contemporary Architecture

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Provide a historical-critical knowledge of the principal experiences of architecture from the origins of modern architecture to nowadays. The fundamental episodes of the artistic production of the twentieth century are also discussed. Exercises on the subject of Architecture History, integrated with the teachings of the design and restoration, are done by the students.

Course contents

Structure, Space and Materials

This course intends to introduce students to the knowledge of contemporary architecture by analyzing significant works, personalities and issues. The study of the works will focus on the analysis of some topics such as the truth and the nature of the materials, the role and the forms of the structure and its relation to space. This course will also deal with works by artists whose creative process has contributed to focus on concepts often decisive for architecture.

By the end of this course, students will be able to evaluate architectures considering the connection between idea, conception, form and materials, and to understand the cultural, technical and artistic issues related to their realization. Studying the various architectural experiences will allow students to deal with some issues that may suggest their initiating personal research.

Course contents

1 - Fundamentals of Modernity

Gottfried Semper and the principle of cladding

Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, system of construction and system of structure

Exposed frame and curtain wall: from Jeames Bogardus to Louis Henri Sullivan

Order and truth of the cladding and Raumplan, from Otto Wagner to Adolf Loos

2 - Towards an Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright, organic architecture and nature of materials

Auguste Perret, order and truth of the structure

Mies van der Rohe, search for absolute structure

Le Corbusier, from the ornamental composition to the ''espace indicible"

Louis Isadore Kahn, monumental structures and zero degree of matter

Construction of Italian architecture, from Franco Albini toAldo Rossi

3 - Seminar: Artistic and Radicals Visions

Space and materials in sculpture, from Rauschenberg to Födinger

From Pop Art to Robert Venturi's ordinary work

Radical architecture, from Archigram to Archizoom

4 – Seminar: Archipelago in the contemporary

Swiss experimentalism, from Herzog & de Meuron to Peter Zumthor

Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, e Lacaton & Vassal, Interface, New Sobriety, Économie Structurelle


Text (required):

- G. Fanelli, R. Gargiani, Storia dell'architettura contemporanea. Spazio, struttura, involucro, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2006

Articles or Essays - Available in Online Teachings (required):

- E. Bonfanti, elementi e costruzione. Note sull'architettura di Aldo Rossi, in "Controspazio", ottobre 1970, pp. 19-42

- M. Cometa, L’architettura italiana tra policromia e storicismo, in Id., Il Romanzo dell’Architettura. La Sicilia e il Grand Tour nell’età diGoethe, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1999, pp. 299-325

- G. Fanelli, R. Gargiani, Il principio del rivestimento. Prolegomena a una storia dell'architettura contemporanea, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1994

- R. Gargiani, ‘Der Stil’ di Gottfried Semper: Verso la costruzione incorporea, in “Quasar”, gennaio-giugno 1997, 17, pp. 155-168

- B. Lampariello, Il "discorso per immagini" di Superstudio: dal Monumento Continuo alla Supersuperficie, 1968-1971, in "Archistor", 2016, n. 5, pp. 106-137

- A. Loos, Das Prinzip der Bekleidung, in “Neue Freie Presse”, 4 settembre 1898, trad. it., Il principio del rivestimento, in Id., Parole nel vuoto, Adelphi, Milano, 1991, pp. 79-86

- G. Phillips, Framing what we see: the role of ornamentinstructuring. Louis Sullivan'sdesign logic, in Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 2008, volume 35, pp. 772-793

- A. Rosellini, Oltre il « béton brut »: Le Corbusier e la « nouvelle stéréotomie », in: Arte e Architettura. Le cornici della Storia, Milano, Bruno Mondadori Editore, «RICERCA», 2007, pp. 231 - 258

- A. Rosellini, Sculptures moulées di Le Corbusier, in: Quando è scultura, Milano, Et Al., 2010, pp. 121 - 132

- A. Rosellini, La Ville Contemporaine di Le Corbusier e Pierre Jeanneret, o del paesaggio svizzero sublimato in metropoli, in La Città Nuova. Oltre Sant’Elia. Cento anni di visioni urbane, Milano, Silvana Editoriale, 2013, pp. 67-79

- A. Rosellini, Unité d’Habitation in Marseille - Experimental Artistic Device, in Ruth Baumeister, What Moves Us? Le Corbusier and Asger Jorn in Art and Architecture, Zurich, Scheidegger & Spiess, 2015, pp. 38-45

- A. Rosellini, Joint, growth and ornament of Kahn’s cast-in-place concrete, in Studies in the History of Consctruction. The Proceedings of the Second Conference of the Construction History Society,Cambridge, the Construction History Society, 2015, pp. 297-307

- A. Rosellini, Il calcestruzzo secondo Uncini, Smithson e Kiefer: arte del costruire, natura geologica, materia in rovina, in “ARCHISTOR”, 2016, 5, pp. 70-105

- G. Semper, Origine tecnica delle principali forme-base, tipi e simboli dell’architettura, in Id., Lo stile, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1992, pp. 39-49 (1a ed., Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen Künsten oder praktische Ästhetik. Ein Handbuch für Techniker, Künstler und Kunstfreunde, vol. I, Frankfurt am Main, 1860)

- G. Semper, Il sostegno, in Id., Lo stile, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1992, pp. 219-229 (1a ed., Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen Künsten oder praktische Ästhetik. Ein Handbuch für Techniker, Künstler und Kunstfreunde, vol. II, Frankfurt am Main, 1863)

- M. van Schaik, Exit Utopia. Architectural Provocations 1956-76, Prestel, London New York, 2005

Recommended readings (optional):

- R. Gargiani, Archizoom Associati 1966-1974. Dall'onda pop alla superficie neutra, Electa, Milano, 2007

- R. Gargiani, Rem Koolhaas/OMA, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2010

- R. Gargiani, Louis I. Kahn, Exposed Concrete and Hollow Stones, 1949-1959, EPFL Press, Lausanne, 2014

- A. Rosellini, Louis Kahn, Toward the zero degree of concrete, 1960-1974, EPFL Press, Lausanne, 2014

- A. Rosellini, Le Corbusier e la superficie, dal rivestimento d’intonaco al “béton brut”, Aracne, Roma, 2013

- P. Ursprung, a cura di, Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History, Centre Canadien d'Architecture, Lars Müller, Montreal, Zürich, 2002, pp. 41-77

- P. Zumthor, Atmosfere. Ambienti architettonici. Le cose che ci circondano, Electa, Milano, 2007

- Christian Kerez 2010-2015. JunyaIshigami 2005-2015, “El Croquis”, 2015, 128

- Lacaton & Vassa 1993-2015, “El Croquis”, 2015, 177-178

- Jean Nouvel 1987-1998, “El Croquis”, 1998, 65-66

Teaching methods

lecture, seminar

Assessment methods

Oral examination (attending and non-attending students)

To pass the oral examination, students are required to demonstrate that they have achieved a critical knowledge of the topics treated during the course, the bibliography and the architectures of the period dealt with. The analysis shall not be limited to the formal aspects of individual works; students are expected to break down the architectures, showing their understanding of all the aspects related to the central topics of the course and the aesthetic and formal reasons that guided certain architectural choices.

The exam will begin with the presentation of the photographic book and the relative research produced by each student following the study trip to Milan. In case of non-participation, other topics will not be accepted and the examination will focus entirely on the contents of the course and the bibliography.

It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, originality of reflection and familiarity with the tools of architecture analyze. It will be assessed as discrete the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, disarticulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, or a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of musical architecture analyze. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the tools of architecture analyze. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyze the architecture analyze.

Teaching tools

Students will be provided with the images projected in lesson and part of the bibliography

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Anna Rosellini