02736 - History of Architecture

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student knows the main architectural languages from the Middle Ages to the contemporary age. In particular, it is able to place a building in the historical context of origin through a reading of the characterizing elements.

Course contents

The course is organized through lectures

The lectures (56 hours) will take place along a path that goes from Greek architecture to the contemporary age, with significant examples of the different languages of Western architecture, to acquire the fundamentals to be able to analyze an artifact, both from the point of view of the conceptual structure and the material one

The topics covered will be:

1) The methods of the architectural historian. The origins of architecture

2) Greek architecture

3) Roman architecture

4) Paleochristian and Byzantine architecture

5) The different European landscapes of the Romanesque

6) Gothic architecture in Europe and Italy

7) The return to antiquity in fifteenth-century Florence: Brunelleschi and Alberti

8) Antonio Averlino, Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Leonardo da Vinci

9) The Renaissance in Rome: Bramante and Raphael

10) Giulio Romano's serious lusione and Michelangelo's novitas

11) Andrea Palladio

12) The Baroque in Rome: Pietro da Cortona, Bernini and Borromini

13) The baroque outside Rome: Guarino Guarini and Bernardo Vittone

14) The end of the classical age: Perrault, Piranesi, Boullée, Ledoux and Lequeu

15) Paris, capital of the 19th century. The European nineteenth century between eclecticism and engineering

16) Austria at the turn of the century: Wagner, Wiener Werkstatte and Adolf Loos. Ornament and crime

17) Die Neue Welt: Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the others

18) Le Corbusier

19) After the Modern. From Louis I. Kahn to Frank O. Gehry: the changing languages (and materials) of architecture, from the second half of the twentieth century to today

The remaining hours (20) will be used for receiving students and any further information, as well as for exams


The reference manual is: David Watkin, Storia dell'architettura occidentale, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1990, 2016, 5th edition (original edition: A History of Western Architecture, London, Barrie & Jenkins, 1986)

On construction materials up to the industrial revolution it is useful: Umberto Menicali, I materiali dell’edilizia storica. Tecnologia e impiego dei materiali tradizionali, Florence, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1992 (or, alternatively: Cirillo Atzeni, Giorgio Pia, Ulrico Sanna, I materiali dell’edilizia storica. Storia, tecnologia, applicazioni, Rome, Aracne, 2010); as well as the various issues of the periodical: "Materia. Rassegna tecnica di motivi d’architettura. An architectural review" (1989-2013); on the specific theme of the construction techniques of the fifteenth century architecture, one can usefully consult: Roberto Gargiani, Princìpi e costruzione nell’architettura italiana del Quattrocento, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2003

Insights on the various historical periods can be conducted on the series: “Storia dell’architettura”, edited by Pier Luigi Nervi (Milan, Electa) and “Storia dell’architettura italiana”, various curators (Milan, Electa); useful dictionary is: Nikolaus Pevsner, Hugh Honor, John Fleming, Dizionario di architettura, Italian edition edited by Renato Pedio, introduction by Vittorio Gregoretti, Turin, Einaudi, 1981, 2005, 11th edition (original edition: The Penguin dictionary of architecture, drawings by Davis Etherton, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1966)

Non-attending students are also required to study two texts chosen from those listed and which belong to two different historical periods (the volumes are listed in chronological order based on the date of publication of the first edition in the original language):

- for Late Antique, Early Christian and Byzantine architecture

Richard Krautheimer, Architettura paleocristiana e bizantina, Turin, Einaudi, 1986 (original ed.: Early Christian and Byzantine architecture, Harmondsworth, Penguin books, 1965)

Sergio Bettini, Lo spazio architettonico da Roma a Bisanzio, Bari, Dedalo, 1978, 1992

Eugenio Russo, L’architettura di Ravenna paleocristiana, Venice, Veneto Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts, 2003

- for medieval architecture

Otto von Simson, La cattedrale gotica. Il concetto medievale di ordine, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013 (original edition: The Gothic Cathedral. Origins of Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of Order, Princeton (N.J), Princeton University Press, 1956)

Claudio Tiberi, Culture e momenti d’architettura antichi e medievali, presentation by Piero Cimbolli Spagnesi, Milan, Jaca Book, 2011 (only the part concerning the Middle Ages)

Carlo Tosco, L’architettura medievale in Italia, 600-1200, Bologna, Il mulino, 2016

- for modern architecture

Rudolf Wittkower, Principi architettonici nell’età dell’Umanesimo, Introduction by Richard Krautheimer, translation by Renato Pedio, Turin, Einaudi, 1964, 2007, 7th edition (original edition: Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, The Warburg Institute, London , 1949)

Antonio Forcellino et alii, La materia e il colore nell’architettura romana tra Cinquecento e Neocinquecento. Storia e progetto, Florence, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1991

Christof Thoenes, Sostegno e adornamento. Saggi sull’architettura del Rinascimento. Disegni, ordini, magnificenza, introduction by James S. Ackerman, Milan, Electa, 1998

Alberto Giorgio Cassani, La fatica del costruire. Tempo e materia nel pensiero di Leon Battista Alberti [Afterword by Massimo Cacciari], Milan, Unicopli Editions, 2000, 2004, 2nd revised edition

Arnaldo Bruschi, L’antico, la tradizione, il moderno. Da Arnolfo a Peruzzi. Saggi sull’architettura del Rinascimento, curated by Maurizio Ricci and Paola Zampa, Milan, Electa, 2004

Maurizio Gargano, Forma e materia. Ratiocinatioe fabricanell’architettura dell’età moderna, Rome, Officina edizioni, 2006

Storia dell’architettura come storia delle tecniche costruttive. Esperienze rinascimentali a confronto, edited by Maurizio Ricci, Venice, Marsilio, 2007

Paolo Portoghesi, Roma barocca, Inventory of architects and their works by Stefania Tuzi, [Rome], international editors gathered, 2011

- for contemporary architecture

Paolo Portoghesi, Dopo l’architettura moderna, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 1980

Kenneth Frampton, Storia dell’architettura moderna, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1982, 2008, 4th Edition (original edition: Modern Architecture. A Critical History, New York-Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1980)

Alessandra Muntoni, Lineamenti di storia dell’architettura contemporanea, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 1997, 2013, 7th edition

Giovanni Fanelli, Roberto Gargiani, Storia dell’architettura contemporanea. Spazio, struttura, involucro, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 1998, 2005, 6th edition

Adam Caruso, In sintonia con le cose. La base materiale della forma nell’architettura contemporanea, Genoa, Marinotti, 2016 (original edition: The feeling of things, Barcelona, Ediciones Polígrafa, 2008)

Marco Ferrari, Architettura e materia. Realtà della forma costruita nell’epoca dell’immateriale, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2013

Maurizio Bradaschia, Massimiliano Modena, Alessandro Zilio, La costruzione tecnologica dell’architettura. Architettura, materiali, tecniche, costruzione, gestione, dismissione, Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018

Teaching methods

Lectures and moments of discussion

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a written paper (or a Power Point) on a topic chosen by the student, agreed with the teacher.

The evaluation criteria will concern: the ability to move independently in bibliographic research; the correct drafting of the text according to a clear distinction between personal text and citations; the correct drafting of the notes and the bibliography; finally, the ability to formulate personal interpretations based on the scientific literature consulted.

In this regard, the teacher will provide a tutorial on how to write a written paper (which is also valid for a thesis).

Teaching tools

The lessons will take place with the support of digital images (Keynote). The latter will be made available to students.

Online recordings of the lessons will also be made available to students.

Office hours

See the website of Alberto Giorgio Cassani