Elements of High-Tech Architecture

Seminar Preservation (063-0910-23)
Organizer: Professorships Langenberg and Stalder
Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Silke Langenberg, Prof. Dr. Laurent Stalder
Time: Thursday, 15:45 - 17:30
Location: HIL C 10.2

In the 1970s and 80s, high-tech architecture disrupted the international architectural discourse. At the height of the postmodernist craze for “history”, this type of architecture instantiated a devotion to another idol: technology. Never did buildings make visible so much of the latter and in such a bold fashion. Steel nodes, glass walls, polymer roofs: architecture had seemingly turned buildings into machines. However, the very essence of high-tech architecture is also the reason which threatens its existence today. Because of their exposed technical details, in fact, many of these buildings need constant care. In addition, since most of these details were (and still are) experimental and custom-made, it is impossible to apply the conventional methods of preservation for their maintenance and refurbishment.

In response to this challenge, this course will examine the elements of high-tech architecture to develop adequate preservation strategies. We will do so in two steps: first, by reviewing a large body of literature on the ontological, epistemological, and social politics of elements and their matter in general. Following this preparatory phase, students will select a high-tech building located in Switzerland and propose ways to refurbish it based on the observation of one of its elements (this may be a steel truss, metal cladding panel, spider bracket, etc). Students successfully completing the course will be able to read high-tech buildings from an object-oriented perspective and devise strategies for their preservation.




Dr. Davide Spina